An exhibition showcasing six female abstract artists poses questions about the real impact of gender on output and perception in the art world.
...The exhibition raises two questions (amongst many) that I want to address briefly here. Is there anything specific to say about women and abstraction: does gender matter when art sheds all references except to its own processes and potentialities as colour, line, space, surface, rhythm and so forth or when it seeks to commune with abstract forces and effects we call nature?
And what do these specific and highly diverse artists in the show bring to the debate about the continuing relevance of abstraction in painting now?
...'Female artists need feminism like a hole in the head'
Yet Riley is also the artist who commented in the early 1970s, that women artists needed feminism - attention to gender issues - like they needed a hole in the head. Understandably she belongs to a generation of artists for whom modern art offered the wonderful opportunity to ‘be an artist’, simply and firmly engaged with artistic questions. Yet when the great American abstract painter Helen Frankenthaler died in 2011, the obituary writers repeated over and over again her disdain for feminists even while it was feminist writers who wrote some of the most interesting and appreciative analyses of her work, taking her much more seriously than the art historians who simply allowed her work only to be a ‘bridge between Pollock and what came after’.