Bow Down: Women in Art History

A new series about significant women artists from the past who deserve our attention

Bow Down is a new podcast about significant women artists from the past who deserve our attention. For each 20-minute episode, Jennifer Higgie – frieze editor at large – invites an artist, writer, historian or curator to nominate an artist to whom we should all … well, bow down. 

Episode 6: Shahidha Bari on Mary Moser and Angelica Kauffman

The cultural historian, radio presenter and author of Dressed: The Secret Life of Clothes (2019) discusses the life and times of the two women founders of London’s Royal Academy, the trail-blazing 18th-century artists Angelica Kauffman and Mary Moser.

Episode 5: Natalia Sidlina on Natalia Goncharova  

Natalia Sidlina, Tate Curator of International Art and a specialist in Russian emigre art, nominates Natalia Goncharova – a modernist pioneer of painting, performance, theatre and costume design who changed the landscape of avant-garde art in early 20th century Russia. Despite being a star in her day, her work has all but faded from the public eye – until early 2019, when her first-ever retrospective was staged at Tate Modern.

Episode 4: Juliet Jacques on Claude Cahun 

Writer, filmmaker and memoirist Juliet Jacques joins Jennifer to discuss Claude Cahun. Born in Nantes in 1894, the surrealist photographer and writer Claude Cahun lived most of her life on the island of Jersey with her stepsister, lover and artistic collaborator Marcel Moore. The work of Cahun and Moore – who resisted the German occupation of Jersey with poems they slipped into soldiers’ pockets – is at once a celebration of queer identity and a testament to the power of the imagination to resist fascism.

Episode 3: Laura Mulvey on Chantal Akerman 

The renowned film theorist Laura Mulvey – who, in the 1975 article ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ coined the term ‘the male gaze’ – discusses the life and work of the influential avant-garde feminist filmmaker and artist, Chantal Akerman, who died in 2015. According to Mulvey, Chantal, who was enormously prolific, was one of the most influential filmmakers in history, the creator of ‘women’s cinema’  who ‘turned filmmaking upside down’.

Episode 2: Olivia Laing on Agnes Martin 

The best-selling novelist and essayist, Olivia Laing nominates the influential abstract artist Agnes Martin (1912-2004). Martin – a gay, working class woman who forged a path in a male-dominated artworld – embraced solitude and didn’t have her first solo show until she was 46. With a practise inspired by Zen Buddhism, American Transcendentalist ideas and the landscape, Martin believed that to paint is to enter ‘a field of vision as you would cross an empty beach to look at the ocean’. Olivia Laing is the author of To The River and Lonely City among other titles. Her book Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency is published in Spring 2020 and she is currently working on a book about bodies and freedom.

Episode 1: Helen Cammock on Artemisia Gentileschi

First up is the Turner-Prize-shortlisted artist – and winner of the 2018 Max Mara Prize for Women – Helen Cammock on the 17th century Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi.

Future episodes will include the critic and memoirist Juliet Jacques on the surrealist photographer and resistance worker Claude Cahun; artist Liliane Lijn on the surrealist painter Stella Sneed; cinema theorist Laura Mulvey on the radical filmmaker Chantal Akerman; Tate curator Natalia Sidlina on the avant-garde artist and designer Natalia Goncharova; and Hayward curator Zoe Whitley on Kathleen Collins, the first African-American woman to write and direct a feature film. We hope you enjoy listening to and learning more about these extraordinary women, all of whom made – and continue to make – the world a more interesting place. Bow down! 

Listen to Bow Down: Women in Art History via iTunes, Spotify, or your favourite podcast platform.

Jennifer Higgie is editor-at-large of frieze, based in London, UK. She is the host of frieze’s first podcast, Bow Down: Women in Art History. Her book The Mirror and the Palette is forthcoming from Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
 

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