WOMEN STEP FORWARD – PORTRAITS OF 30 WOMEN OF ICELANDIC ART

  • 13.2.2015 - 10.5.2015, Listasafn Íslands

This year a century has passed since women obtained the rights to wote. On this occasion The National Gallery of Art invites its guests to take a closer look at the works of 30 women whose attribution granted Icelandic women a say in their quest for rights and opportunity. It seems that Icelandic women artists understood from early on that without an independent means of expression there was hardly any freedom.

All the works in the exhibition belong to the collection of The National Gallery without being a conclusive selection of this important and complex history. On one hand the collection has its limitations, and on the other hand a thorough retrospective of women art in Iceland would demand a far larger space. With almost 70 works by 30 Icelandic women artists, born between 1823 and 1940, the exhibition WOMEN PROCEED nevertheless sheds light on the awakening consciousness of women in Iceland and their strive for a bigger share in the history of Icelandic art. The exhibition is roughly divided between a few generations, the oldest woman in the show being born in the early 19th century when modern Icelandic art was in its prime and there was still a lapse of time before the appearance of women who would become professional artists. Yet soon pioneers among Icelandic women were to break through and make themselves felt in Danish, Icelandic and international art. These were women who began their studies at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen about the time when their rights to vote were guaranteed. They were to gain momentum in the interwar period.

The generations, born in the twenties, thirties and the forties of the 20th century were to confirm what was apparent that women were in no way inferior to their male counterparts in visual arts despite too many examples of discrimination leading to emigration. The selection of women artists is confined to the generation that was born after the end of the 1950s as an awareness of this generation is still at work. This is the generation of very conscious women who search for new paths to deal with non-traditional media and non-conformist ideas regarding the status of art, and status of women artists as pace-setters.


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