Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Lyubov Popova: A First in the Fusion Art of "Cubo-Futurism"


 In a search for women artists, who made art history during their life, I came across a name new to me. She was Lyubov Popova (1889-1924). Yes, she had a shortened life due to scarlet fever, but what she accomplished in her 35 years is worthy of a place in art history.


Born in Russia into a highly-cultured family, by age 11, she was taking art lessons. As an adult, she traveled widely throughout Europe observing and learning ever more in her pursuit of art. By age 22, she was studying in Paris with Cubist masters. (Below: "The Model")


 Popova is considered a first female pioneer in the Cubo-Futurism, which is a fusion of modern art originated in France and Italy. She referred to this fusion as "painterly architectonics." Later, she would work in Constructivism. (One of the Bauhaus in Germany was known to teach until the Nazis closed the school in 1933)

She was always evolving and seeking a way to explore art outside of the strictures of the academies. In that regard, she is quoted as saying about the avant garde artists:"We are breaking with the past, because we cannot accept its hypotheses." 


 Over time, Popova taught art classes and helped design for the theater. She would go on to generate the first designs for textiles to be manufactured in the First State Textile Printing Works in Moscow. Her contributions for the avant garde artists was very important. She could see that the revolution was changing Russia and she was showing a path to survival as artists. 


Her death came at the peak of her artistic powers, but she left an abundant legacy with 77 paintings, textile designs, posters and line engravings.


Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Rosa Bonheur: Pathfinder for Women Artists

 Did you know that March is Women's History Month, or as I prefer to call it, Women's Art History Month. Actually, they're not that different in terms of the timeline of the extension of women's rights, including attending art painting or limited subjects acceptable for a woman to paint, such as babies, children and mothers. 

France was much slower than other European countries in eliminating the binding of new concepts about women artists. As you might imagine, there were a few women artists, who decided that it was time. Among the few was Rosa Bonheur, (1822-1899).


Bonheur would spend hours sketching, but had trouble learning to read. Her mother helped her by having Bonheur sketch animals as a means of learning her alphabet. It is important to her story because it was learning about animals that would lead to her fame.

She studied anatomy and worked at a veterinarian college dissecting animals. Her first great success was a commission by the French government titled, "Plowing in the Nivernais." 


Six years later, she gained international fame with her very large (8' x 16') painting, "The Horse Fair." Bonheur traveled to Scotland, England and the USA where she showed her works at the World's Columbian Exposition.  


For most of her adult life, Bonheur worked and lived in her own way. She chose to wear pants and cut her hair short with permission from the police because she worked in the stockyards and auctions studying animals. Women artists from other countries were highly impressed with Bonheur's freedom and took her lead back to their own countries with determination to let their work speak for them.


Today, women artists can paint any subject, indoors or outdoors and attend art school with no difference in the curriculum. Much of the extension to liberating the constrictions for art predate women securing the vote. Could it be that art was a precursor to politics when women's art showed the same degree of talent as men?

Note: (Her ability to paint animals includes the sweet little one at the bottom)