Saturday, March 08, 2008

women and art

The Archibald prize for portraiture was announced yesterday and according to the director of the NSW Art Gallery, was one of the toughest judging decisions they have made. Del Kathryn Barton’s “You are what is most beautiful about me, a self portrait with Kell and Arella” is a beautiful, feminine piece quite different in style to past winners.

It could be said that the Prize doesn’t favour female artists, with women only winning the Archibald 8 times since it’s inception in 1921 (though there has been the odd year when the award has not been given). Please can we avoid the “there aren’t many good women artists” ‘debate’ on this one. Barton is the 4th woman to win the prize in the past 30 years, well since there has been a nod towards gender equality in this country.

The award winning portrait is of a domestic nature, not just of the painter with her children but the acknowledgement in its title that they are what makes her who she is. Her artistic style steers away from classical painting and drawing, breaking the mold a little.

Personally, from what I can see of the portrait (a miniature computer image is usually a poor representation of the original) there is much to admire. Congratulations to Barton and what a fitting accomplishment for International Women’s Day.

One thing about this year’s finalist baffled me. The entry criterion states the portrait to be “preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in Art, Letters, Science or Politics” and past years have tended to not include an unknown subject. As beautiful as Zai Kuang’s piece is, just what is Celia and Julie’s claim to fame?

Zai Kuang
The sisters - Celia and Julia

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Blogger Su said...

I love this portrait; especially the composition. I think I saw her featured on Sunday Arts a few months ago.

2:17 pm  
Blogger Pixie said...

It's great isn't it. Hooray for her, and for the judges!

7:53 am  

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