I went with a friend to see Women Behaving Badly, an exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art. I recommend it.
We briefly viewed a few other things - I will be going back to take a much closer look at the mosaics, looted from Antioch (an ancient Greek city). The museum has: "Twenty-eight mosaic pavements from Antioch on view that tell the story of this ancient city prior to its destruction by catastrophic earthquakes in 526 and 528 A.D." They fascinate me.
I am often filled with revulsion when I see the portraits of rich patrons and the religious art created to perpetuate a hegemonic world view that oppressed/oppresses women and others. Today was no different. I am attracted to the beautiful furniture (monoethnic in size in some fine examples I saw today) while being slightly nauseated as it forces me to contemplate the massive structural economic inequality that continues to plague our world. Rich women painted as though they were goddesses . . . the better to massage their superiority and empower them to "lord it over" their "inferiors."
When the weather is cooler, I want to see the sculpture garden, which looks to consist of contemporary / modern 3D art - which I both appreciate because they are not looted artifacts, and despise because they generally uninspired, insipid, or dreary.
The slides start with a photo of the cover of the museum brochure. The next three photos are of a painting I admire of a Gypsy child - I was offended by the use of the world "exotic" used in the textual support - used without critical thought to describe subject matter such as gypsies. Perhaps the curator of this part of the museum should read Said's "Orientalism."
If I spend too much time in some parts of an art museum, I become angry. That "winners and losers" worldview that rewards those with unearned privilege claws at my gut. I've been to the Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay in France and the art museum in Cologne, Germany. I've been to the Smithsonian Art Museum in DC, the Chicago Museum of Art, the Los Angeles Museum of Art, the J. Paul Getty Art Museum by UCLA, and the MET in NYC. And others. They are the same in organizational structure. We see ancient statues (stolen from various countries around the world - Egypt, Greece, Italy, etc.). We see religious art - roomfuls. We see patronage art of rich people, many of them portraits of the rich themselves, wearing fine clothes or puffed up in imagined scenes. We see the silver work, the gold jewelry, the furniture and the pottery of the rich. Tiffany glass work and Fabergé eggs, crystal bottles and beautifully inlaid wood screens.
The exhibit "Women Behaving Badly is worth the price of admission; oh wait - it's free. What an antidote to my feelings of participation in my own oppression that arise when I view art that reinforces masculine hegemony.
The fourth photo is of a massive doorknocker meant to represent Sarah Bernhardt as Medea. The next three photos are of an inkwell designed and created by Sarah Bernhardt in 1880 - Inkwell: Self-portrait as a Sphinx.
The next two photos relate to Loie Fuller - the poster is an example of the textual support in the exhibit. She invented colored stage lighting, among her other accomplishments.
The final photo is of our lunches at Gertrude's Chesapeake Kitchen. Our meal was marvelous; everything on the menu looked fabulous. We sat with a view of some of the sculpture garden. We watched as the rain moved into town and then we scurried out to the car just as the first drops hit.
I'll be going back - I have yet to see the modern art, which rarely offends me and only often bores me . . . perhaps they have some Impressionists. It would be too much to hope for some Van Gogh paintings, but perhaps some Sisley or Pissarro works will grace the walls of the Baltimore Museum of Art.
~ Dr. P-J
July 18, 2021 — December 19, 2021
Women who rebelled against sexist social rules have been trivialized and controlled for centuries. Portrayed according to stereotypes or vilified, women acting on their own behalf have been undermined consistently by their representation in Western art. Spanning the Renaissance to the progressive social movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries, this exhibition links heroines of the past with modern trailblazers, celebrating women throughout history who broke rules, transgressed boundaries, and insisted upon recognition of their human rights.
Approximately 75 prints, photographs, and books illustrate female power and courage over five centuries into the modern era when women were actively engaging to effect social change. In the first section, prints by such canonical artists as Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt, Francisco de Goya, and Edvard Munch demonstrate how iconic portrayals of powerful women of the past have informed our subsequent understanding of female agency. The second section celebrates women who pursued identities beyond the traditional categories of wife and mother, expanding their presence into the public sphere as dancers, actresses, musicians, authors, and advocates for civil rights. The exhibition title nods to the well-known quote, “Well-behaved women seldom make history,” from a 1976 essay by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. Generations of women have continued to give this maxim a life of its own, rallying behind it as a call for challenging societal standards.
Curated by Andaleeb Badiee Banta, Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings & Photographs
This exhibition is supported by Nancy Hackerman, Clair Zamoiski Segal, Amy and Marc Meadows, Patricia Lasher and Richard Jacobs, and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.