Sister Act: Trailblazing Women in Art
Meet the women taking the lead in the art world
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Rosalyn Wikeley asks four trailblazing women in the art world to divulge which artists and exhibitions inspire them to keep pushing the boundaries…
1. Lyndsey Ingram
London Boutique Gallery Owner
New Yorker Lyndsey Ingram cut her art teeth in Sotheby’s London Print department before opening her own ‘small but perfectly formed gallery’ in 2016, specialising in Post-War Prints and Contemporary Art.
What are the challenges of navigating the art world as a woman? There has always been a bit of an old boy network, but again, that is probably true of most industries. And, like the rest of the world, it is changing. I think if we continue to believe in ourselves AND support our female friends and colleagues as much as we can, then a lot can change, and quickly.
Who inspires you in the art world? Georgia O’Keefe – I recently visited her home and studio in New Mexico and I was blown away. Rosa Esman – a dear friend and colleague who was the first great print publisher in the early 1960s. Her friendships were reflected in the work she created with them: Lichtenstein, Warhol, Stella, Oldenburg. And the women artists I work with and represent – in knowing them and showing their work, I am always learning.
Female artist to know about right now? There are so many women artists who are finally getting attention and are likely to have been overlooked up until now.
Favourite exhibition you’ve seen this year? The Helen Frankenthaler show in Venice featuring these enormous abstract canvases set in a Venetian palazzo. Something about the ageing patina of the Venice architecture really resonated with the abstracted forms and colours of Frankenthaler’s work.
Hottest art city or town? Marfa! [in Texas]. A town devoted to minimalism, thanks to Donald Judd, who lived and worked there for 20 years. I finally made the trip this summer… the ultimate art pilgrimage.
2. Marcia Kure
Kure’s art explores the limits of line. ‘Line marks boundaries and borders, shapes spaces, and keeps things in, out, or in-between. It contains and divides. It is the trail of my pencil and the path of movement of bodies, planes, ideas.’ She also interrogates the social conditions of women and the history of Africa’s relationship with the West, using visual elements from Disney cartoons, Japanese anime, manga and kawaii, medieval fashion, military outfits, and contemporary couture.
What are the challenges of navigating the art world as a woman? For years I struggled with the reality of relocating from Nigeria to the US and had to confront an art world that has for so long catered to white artists. Change is slow, in spite of the great work of Okwui Enwezor and others like Koyo Kouoh and Bisi Silva. The world needs more black women scholars and curators, and art institutions must double their commitment to the work of women of all races. After all, we are almost half the population and are making first-rate and outstanding art!
Who inspires you in the art world? Louise Bourgeois for her balance, tension, sexuality and exploration of the interior landscape. Toni Morrison, who captured memory, pain, trauma and life in America with such grace, courage and confidence. Colette Omogbai for her 1965 essay, Man Loves What is Sweet and Obvious.
Female artist to know about right now? Bronwyn Katz.
Favourite exhibition you’ve seen this year? El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale at Haus der Kunst. His ability to build splendid sculptures from small metallic fragments is otherworldly.
Hottest art city or town? Lagos, Nigeria.
Marcia’s work is currently exhibited at Purdy Hicks Gallery. purdyhicks.com
3. Marlies Verhoeven Reijtenbagh & Daisy Peat
Founders of global arts club, The Cultivist
The pair previously managed Sotheby’s Preferred programme, but identified that while art was having an ‘astronomical rise in popularity’, people were increasingly time poor. So in 2015 they founded The Cultivist, the world’s first global arts club, offering privileged access.
What are the challenges of navigating the art world as a woman? Raising a family and keeping up with the ever-growing art world calendar can be daunting for both men and women. There are some incredibly strong women at the helm of institutions and organisations, and there has been increasing representation of women and artists of colour in exhibitions globally, but we would love to see more trustee boards diversify.
Who inspires you in the art world? Agnes Gund, because sheis unstoppable, even in her eighties, and has a knack for putting her finger on issues. Iwona Blazwick because, for 17 years as Director of the Whitechapel Gallery, she has championed female artists, making it a part of the museum’s programming. Thelma Golden is also brilliant in myriad ways.
Female artist to know about right now? Genevieve Gaignard, Donna Huanca, Sadie Benning and Zanele Muholi.
Favourite exhibition you’ve seen this year? Pablo Picasso at Fondation Beyeler presented works from Picasso’s early years, showing a side to the artist that you don’t often see. In Paris this autumn there will be a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition that has been 100 years in the making.
Hottest art city or town? Delos, Greece, where Artist Antony Gormley installed 29 sculptures in and amongst the ancient ruins as part of his Sight exhibition.
4. Emma Witter
Artist in residence at Alexander McQueen’s Sarabande Foundation in London, Emma Witter has carved a unique identity creating botanical sculptures from bleached animal bones. Her big break came with a residency at Mark Hix’s gallery, under his Tramshed restaurant, where she washed, boiled and bleached the bones from the restaurant’s steak and chicken dishes for three months.
What are the challenges of navigating the art world as a woman? Everyone has their own experience – I’ve struggled with having false ‘interest’ in my work by men who want to spend time with me. Ultimately there needs to be a higher number of women represented by commercial galleries and exhibiting at solo shows with non-commercial galleries. There are several organisations to help women in the arts network and give each other a step up, like Marguerite or the Society of Women Artists.
Who inspires you in the art world? Cathy Ward – an amazing artist, feminist, friend and mentor. Marine Tanguy – whose artist agency breaks the gallery model by educating their talent on art world business, rather than concealing. She promotes visual artists and specialises in talent management: accelerating careers.
Female artist to know about right now? Clementine Keith-Roach, whose playful anthropomorphic pottery reminds me of Francis Upritchard, who I also love.
Favourite exhibition you’ve seen this year? Jonah Pontzer had his first solo exhibition back in May, called Summer Body, which was a mixture of paintings and ink studies examining the proliferation of pornography, queer culture and fetish. The private view was like diving into a teenage 1970s American summer.
Hottest art city or town? I’m keen to visit up-and-coming ‘outsider’ art cities like Detroit and Naples.
Emma’s work is in Remember You Must Die from 18–22 September at Sarabande Foundation. emmawitter.co.uk
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