Flowers decompose and fertilise

Reading about and researching the historic work made by women inspired me, not the least because recognition for their achievements sometimes came only after hundreds of years. To me the fragility of the work resides both in the material and the position held by women in society for centuries.

As described flowers are a common feminine subject for historic women artists. The subject of a flower is for me also a perfect translation of time and appreciation. Isn’t it nature that we all praise for its beauty, despite it lasting for only a short period of time before it falls prey to decay? We buy flowers to decorate our rooms and bring joy to our lives. They are used to celebrate or commemorate and because of their beauty and symbolism. Flowers are valued, despite their temporary existence. Why don’t we provide the fragile work by artists with similar adoration and appreciation? Rachel Ruysch argues in her flower paintings the worthiness of investment of something deemed temporarily through the symbolism of the flowers she paints. The expensive two-toned tulip for example represents greed (Singer).  

It is the destruction and decomposing of the flowers that I find interesting as well. The circle of life is needed for the new life to be generated, like contemporary artists build on the history of previous artists. Rachel Ruysch applies similar symbolism in her flower compositions, showing flowers from different seasons flourishing together (Toledo)(De Vitis)(van den Bosch). For me these different flowers represent women artists at different stages of their career.

Feminist art

According to feminist artist Suzanne Lacy “The goal of feminist art is an effort to influence cultural attitudes and transform stereotypes” (Houlis). Feminist art became a tool in the first feminist wave in the 1960s (Houlis). I also want to create a work that stimulates people to think about the exclusion of contemporary women artists and impact the decision-making process related to art purchasing and representation in Dutch art institutions. Following this definition my work can be labelled as feminist art too.

Several ideologies framed as feminism can be defined including white feminism, womanism or third world feminism (Fischer). Feminism is a range of ideologies that seek to establish the equality of the genders. Society assigns higher value for work done by men and those privileged. In the field of art, the work made by women is interpreted at higher risk compared to men, as the work is assumed of lesser amount and in-stable in future production, for example as the result of motherhood and caretaking (Heithuis).

Interviews with two women artists learned that they never considered that their work would be less represented, and works be priced lower than that of men. However, once they look at their experiences in the industry, they do see events to support these assumptions. (Kats) (Holman).  Mark Schotman, who works at the Business Station of the Willem de Kooning Art Academy, states that it might be the aftermath of men dominating leading positions in the industry.


Flowers decompose and fertilise

Singer, James. “Masterpiece Story: Vase with Flowers by Rachel Ruysch.” DailyArt Magazine. 28 Feb 2023.

Toledo Museum of Art. “Mar. 4 Art Minute: Rachel Rusch Flower Still life.” Toledo Museum. Accessed 01 May 2023

De Vitis, Mark. “Here’s looking at Rachel Ruysch’s Still life with flowers in a glass vase.” The Conversation research-based news publisher. 12 December 2017

van den Bosch, Nadine. “Column collect: nieuwe portretten.” Tableau fine arts magazine. 29 March 2023  

Feminist art

Houlis, AnnaMarie. “What is Feminist Art?” Fairygodboss Career Community.  01 Oct 2019.

Fischer, Kay. “Introduction to Ethnic Studies, chapter 8.3: Intersectionality and Third World Feminism.” LibreTexts Social Sciences. Accessed 10 May 2023

Heithuis, Sander, et al.. Een nog onverteld verhaal. Stichting Women Inc. 2021.

Kats, Jule. Interview. Conducted by Francisca Snel. 28 Mar 2023.

Holman, Ellis. Interview. Conducted by Francisca Snel. 11 Apr 2023.

Schotman, Mark. Interview. Conducted by Francisca Snel. 30 Mar 2023

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