Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Flora, Power, And Women In Art
We're big fans of the newly expanded Crocker Art Museum. We even became members because a) big fans and b) it gives husband and baby another place to go for a walk that isn't the mall.
Last weekend we ducked in for a quick dose of art and overheard a docent giving a tour. She was discussing the above painting - a bold and thickly covered oil called "Flora" by American Joan Brown. It's a direct nod to Rembrandt but in a distinctly modern [fill in appropriate art term here] style.
The docent asked the tour group if they were surprised to learn the artist is a woman because, to her, it is surprising to have such a powerful work come from a woman. The reds and tones generally and the brush strokes, all very powerful.
I didn't want to pull out my jump to conclusions mat too quickly, but the comment stuck with me. Can women artists not be powerful? Should they use pastel palettes? Should their flora be more formal and structured?
To me, this painting is lovely - up close, it's something you want to touch and experience with your eyes closed - the paint is over an inch thick in some places. It's the portrait of the artist as she was - pregnant and in love with another artist she'd later marry. I don't know that it speaks power to me, but if it did, I don't know that I'd assume the artist were male.