The greatest women artists of the 20th century?

David Galenson gets out his measuring stick:

A survey of the illustrations of the work of women artists contained in
textbooks of art history reveals that art historians judge Cindy
Sherman to be the greatest woman artist of the twentieth century,
followed in order by Georgia O’Keeffe, Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse, and
Frida Kahlo.

We need to distinguish between fame in books and fame in the art world, not to mention fame with the general public.  Textbooks pass through a "least common denominator" filter, which includes the need to appear balanced and representative.  Cindy Sherman is unique and memorable, and her work reproduces well on the printed page.  Frida Kahlo was of course Latina.  O’Keeffe, Hesse, and Susan Rothenberg are better candidates for the top slots., with the German Hesse as my personal favorite  I’m also a fan of Rachel Whiteread, Agnes Martin, and Kiki Smith (this one too).  Quiltmakers, as a category, deserve top recognition, although there is no dominant name linked to the field.  If we are talking about the general public, Grandma Moses (overrated), Yoko Ono, O’Keeffe and Kahlo all do well.

Perhaps the more important observation is that women have done best in the arts (and, for that matter, in economics) precisely when we left the era of "The Great Artist."


Tyler, please drop the other shoe. When, precisely, did we leave the era of "The Great Artist"? Why did the arts leave the era, but we are still in the era of the great athlete (Armstrong / Woods / Federer)? Did we also leave the era of the great scientist? If we have left the era of the great artist, is it never the less case that the arts are a "winners take all" arena, and if so how does this work?

Don't forget Elizabeth Murray!

Helen Frankenthaler? A brilliant painter and printmaker. For my money, one of the best abstract expressionists, and still going strong.

Agnes Martin?

Mary Cassatt lived until 1926, though most of her famous work was in the 19th century.

What I find most compelling about the Galenson piece is that his rigorous quantitative process gives us insights that don't depend on so much subjective stuff. And, as with his previous work, it sheds light on almost everyone's creative process -- either quick conceptual breakthroughs or slow step-by-step experimental innovation. (I wrote more about the Galenson piece in my "Arts of Innovation" blog. The blog is at The post on women artists is at .)

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Contact: Jayne DeMente
818 760-0531,
What: “The Goddess Journey† Art Opening
When: October 6-31, 2007
Opening Night: October 06, 7-10 p.m.
Where: Magdalene Cultural Arts Center
4822 Vineland Ave (at Lankershim)
North Hollywood, California 91601
Admission: Free and open to the public

The Goddess Journey lifts the veil on a lost Feminine Spiritual Heritage.

Femininist Spiritual Art is alive at the Magdalene Cultural Arts Center in North Hollywood.

In the tradition of Judy Chicago (Through the Flower, The Dinner Party), Frida Kahlo’s portraits of the soul, and last spring Exquisite Acts & Everyday Rebellions: 2007 CalArts Feminist Art Project, WACK! Art and the Femininist Revolution at Geffen Contemporary at MOCA and Southern California Women’s Caucus for Art’s Multiple Vantage Points at LAMAG (Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery), The Goddess Journey, a series of 33 paintings, a legacy to women spiritual heritage, explores the Eternal Feminine.

The Goddess Journey, a body-of-work of 33 paintings, 2 to 12 feet, created by artist SHAKTIMA BRIEN on a period of 20 years in Santa Monica, unravels missing and forgotten feminine archetypes in men and women’s psyche today.

From Dormant Soul to Creatora, passing by Volcano Woman and Women Mysteries, The Goddess Journey offers insights on material, sexual, psychological and spiritual aspects of the feminine principle of life.

The exhibition opens on October 6 at the Magdalene Cultural Arts Center in the NoHo Arts District at 7 p.m..

Shaktima Brien is an artist, who is part of the cultural fusion that shapes new languages and paradigms. Her work was at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History for the Premiere of Signs of Time, a film on Marija Gimbutas (The Language of the Goddess) sponsored by UCLA Women’s Studies, Women’s Heritage Project and Bellili Productions. Some of her tableaux were sold at the Shirley MacLaine and Whoopi Goldberg Art Auction; some others were selected by Judy Freeman, Associate Curator of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, for the “Women in Contemporary Art" exhibition.

Shaktima will share The Goddess Journey process at the Magdalene Center on November 11, 10-noon, in the context of Twelve Sundays of Oracles Series hosted by the Women’s Heritage Project, featuring rituals & messages from women of crossed cultures and traditions.

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