Champagne feminist

Sixteen google_ad_height = 90; years ago, I wrote an article for a short-lived women’s art magazine called Make responding to a complaint on the letters page that only childless women could succeed as artists. Off src="//"> the top of my head, I immediately thought of half a dozen //--> artists who disproved this rule and I interviewed them for a piece called A Woman’s Work. They included Shani Rhys-James, Evelyn Williams, Susan Wilson and Sarah Raphael. A quote from Raphael, who had just


had a third child, appeared to clinch the argument: “Motherhood is such an overwhelming purpose that it has to

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be very powerful,
the urge to do the other thing. It cuts the crap. I just haven’t
got the time to sit around wondering what sort of artist I am. The kids get their trainers, that’s the main
thing. I think it’s horseshit, personally, that you can’t be both.”

Gender studies have since moved on, along with definitions //--> of mother and womanhood.

We’ve had handbags at dawn between David Furnish – or was it Elton John? – and Domenico Dolce – or was it Stefano Gabbana? – over the dress designer’s suggestion that men

be proper Italian mammas, and Germaine Greer has been sent into purdah for refusing to recognise

the male art pantheon.) We


live in an increasingly touchy world. Such google_ad_height = 90; are our sensitivities on gender issues that some in the trans community – smaller than the community of giant pandas, but more visible – are calling for
gender specification to be dropped from official forms. Since one of the presumed points of official forms is to ensure fairness, others in
the google_ad_slot = "7160667483"; feminist community have complained that this will make it harder, all things being unequal, to monitor sexual equality. No sex, no equality – we’re British.

It hardly seems google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; worth getting one’s

knickers in a


twist when all the data on gender collected to date has had no visible impact on the only significant measure of equality, the pay packet. But now women artists
have found a surprising champion in Charles Saatchi.

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The wife-throttling philanthropist has chosen to mark his gallery’s 30th anniversary with google_ad_height = 90; Champagne Life (until March 6th), an exhibition of 14 emerging women artists from around the world. In the wake of the gallery’s recent series of exhibitions of contemporary art from art from /* xin-1 */ the


planet Venus. Any Martian glancing through the recent programme might be forgiven for thinking the
female sex was a foreign country.

Aware of the problem, the show’s publicity stresses that it /* 9-970x90 */ “does not offer an overarching vista of ‘female’ artistic practice, nor does it presume to state that there is such a thing”. There are plenty of people around, however, who assume google_ad_width = 970; there is. Most wouldn’t dare go as far as Brian Sewell and claim: “There has never been a first rank woman

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Only men are capable of aesthetic greatness”. But Sewell did agree with the Make magazine moaner: “Maybe it’s something to do with bearing children.”

Historically, this was obviously true. Greer’s The Obstacle Race is a catalogue of google_ad_slot = "8637400688"; female artistic ambitions hobbled or snuffed out by childbearing; src="//"> between domestic commitments

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to children, husbands, fathers and
brothers, a woman’s //--> work as
an artist was
never done. Equally damaging, in her view, was the imitative hero-worship squandered by women artists on male teachers or husbands – or both, in cases where love-struck women students

married their masters. “The artistic ego is to most women repulsive in themselves, and compelling in men,” is Greer’s

analysis of the situation. Or as Degas put it to Suzanne Valadon: “You must have more

Male ‘aesthetic greatness’ often goes with showing /* xin2 */ off; the problem is that the public can’t tell one from the other. Not being natural show-offs, women artists are too easily diverted from the self-satisfaction of making reputations google_ad_width = 970; by the deeper satisfaction of making things. “No artistic success has given me as much pleasure,” said Liubov google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; Popova, “as the sight of a peasant buying a length of material designed by me.” The artist of ambition, argues Greer,

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have a masterful attitude not only to his subject, but also to the beholder google_ad_slot = "6023194682"; whose attention he claims”.


This, she suggests, is why women have tended to work small.

Not any longer. There are no small works in Champagne Life, with the exception of two little heads hanging amongst Jelena Bulajic’s monumental portraits of old women. Still in
her 20s, this young Serbian artist – who had two paintings in last
year’s RA Summer Exhibition – is something of a prodigy. Although shortlisted for the BP Portrait Award, google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; her magnified grisaille faces showing every wrinkle

are not photorealist: from close to, they break down into