A new exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts is celebrating the rise of the recognition of women artists and their various invaluable contributions to culture. Modern Women at PAFA: From Cassatt to O’Keeffe is on view from January 12 to September 1 and features paintings and sculptures of over 20 artists with subject matter ranging for a slew of lady-things like motherhood, beauty, natural landscapes and a lot more.
And sense we are talking about awesomely talented women, I’d like to take a moment to mention one of my favorite artists, male or female, Lee Bontecou.
Lee’s work is imaginative, haunting, curious, primitive and the heavy influence of space and science fiction is what makes her work so devastatingly attractive to me. You look at her illustrations and you believe she has been to these black holes, that she has seen these things first hand. That she is illustrating schematics for spaceships. Her wall sculptures are so black on the inside it is actually scary to think what could be looming within.
Bontecou’s work is important to me because not only is she a woman artist, but she’s a woman artist whose work could easily be mistaken for a mans (in a world where male artists are the default in our minds). Her work isn’t about motherhood or femininity, they aren’t self portraits exploring ornamentation and objectification, her work is about mystery, danger, and unexplored ideas of space, time, and haunting memories of the past. Her work is beautiful, intelligent, and engaging and appeals to a universal sense of curiosity and wonderment.