Abstract Expressionism at the Royal Academy of Arts

A few days ago I went to The Royal Academy of Art that just opened the most comprehensive exhibition about Abstract Expressionism since Tate’s 1959 New York school survey in Britain. The exhibition claimed to acknowledge the “lesser-known artists who contributed to the movement”, but entirely focused on the male group of known/or lesser-known individuals. Even the official page didn’t list a single female voice of the movement “This autumn we bring together some of the most celebrated art of the past century, offering the chance to experience the powerful collective impact of Pollock, Rothko, Still, de Kooning, Newman, Kline, Smith, Guston and Gorky as their works dominate our galleries with their scale and vitality.” The retrospective did feature few works by the “lesser-known” Lee krasner and I think one work by Joan Mitchell but it was disappointing to see that even today an exhibition of such scale failed to acknowledge the contribution and the importance female artists played in the movement. The media very much focused on the “big boys” and the “giants” and so did the curators of the show. The four main rooms were dedicated to Rothko, Pollock, de Kooning and Clyfford Still. And the rest of the works were presented as part of the “thematic rooms”. It very much resounded the piece “Do Women have to be naked to get into the Met. museum”, as it featured more works of naked women from de Kooning’s series than the works of female artists. Out of 169 works presented only a handful were by leading female Abstract Expressionists.
It seems RA is not ready to host anything beyond the mainstream.
For comparison here is a link to the Denver Art Museum’s recent exhibition titled ” Women of Abstract Expressionism”.   AAARGH!

I am not an academic Feminist!


I am not an academic feminist. I haven’t read Feminine Mystique, The Beauty Myth or The Female Eunuch. I’ve tried to, once I first discovered them few years ago but without much success. It’s not because I don’t think they are seminal works or because I don’t absolutely agree with what they say, but the truth is, I find them difficult to read.

Here is a sentence from The Beauty Myth as an example:  “ It is inconceivable to the dominant culture that it should respect as a political allegiance, as deep as any ethnic or racial pride, a woman’s determination to show her loyalty – in the face of a beauty myth as powerful as myths about white supremacy – to her age, her shape, her self, her life.”  There are so many beautifully written books in the world  I could be reading instead…

I am a feminist and I’d like to call myself so. I’d like to say to a person I meet, “Hey, I am a feminist!”, instead of “Hey, I am not an academic feminist!”, but the problem is when I do say that, they respond “Hi, have you read the new Caitlin Moran book?!”. And the answer is “no, I haven’t! I already have a very long pile of must–read feminist books next to my bed, which I’ve been planning to read for the last 5 years. I can’t add another 500 pages, however funny…

The other day I was hiking with some friends and discussing the lack of women in Parliament and how we need to have a proportional representation, and the next question I am asked is whether I think punctuation is essentially a masculine addition to the English syntax. Hell yeah. There is a massive correlation between the masculinity of punctuation and women in Parliament.

But that basically sums up my dilemma. There are so many things I’d like to fulminate against (without discussing grammar) that I’ve decided to start a blog. Please read and feel free to contribute.