HOA400.1 Women and Art: London and the UK (Fall, Spring)

Why are we now starting to learn more about female artists in the Renaissance? How did British women writers help to invent the field of art history in the 19th and early 20th century? Seeking answers to these and more questions, this course explores the role of women in art—not only as subjects or objects, but as creators, commissioners, collectors, dealers, and writers. With a special focus on London and the UK, we will examine proto-feminists and feminist movements in art from the early modern period to the 21st century. Other questions we’ll explore:

  • How did the suffragettes use art, imagery and political pressure to gain voting rights for all women in 1928? And why did it take until 2018 for a statue of a woman to finally be unveiled in Parliament Square?
  • Who were the women Young British Artists of the 1990s, and what was their effect on women artists working today in Britain?
  • Do women collect art differently from men? Why do you think more women take art history classes than men but fewer women work as gallery or museum directors in the 21st century?

We consider how male and female spaces in the art world have evolved since the Renaissance as both separate and shared realms. We examine essential issues of class and race and explore how women use their agency to circumvent societal limitations in their roles as servants, monarchs, artists, models, and patrons. We also explore how feminist theory has changed how historians and art historians write, and investigate who is writing about whom. For example, why are there almost 6,000 books about Michelangelo Buonarroti listed in Syracuse’s Bird Library… and only 827 about Artemisia Gentileschi?

This course may also be registered under WGS 300.1.

Department: Art History

Location: London

Credits: 3