Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Inspired by Other Women Artists - Thursday's Children


I've been on the planet long enough to rack up quite a collection of "Amazing Women" crushes. Each one of these people inspired me at a certain point in my life. Their common denominator is a certain joie-de-vivre and middle finger salute to society as a whole. So here they are:


Colette
This French writer and actress was one of my favorite writers for a period. Her work was looked down upon much the way some women's fiction or romance novels are looked down on in our day. But she didn't care! She loved life! Loved love affairs with whomever she fancied. She had a thing for French Bulldogs and Russian Blue cats neither of which she was ever without and both of whom she wrote about. One of her books, Un Dialogue de BĂȘtes or Dialogue of Animals, is told by a cat and a dog. She spoke to some part of my twenty year old soul - something about how being free-spirited was quite all right.



Georgia O'Keefe was the first female American painter (besides Mary Cassatt) to actually show up in male-written Art History textbooks. She's also one of the first women painters to end up in major museums, and thank goodness, while she was still living. I love that she was an art teacher when she started out, and that she was totally comfortable leaving Alfred Steiglitz (her photographer husband) in New York while she moved to the landscape of New Mexico. Georgia O'Keefe was a purist to herself - that's what inspires me about her. She knew what she wanted and she wasn't afraid to make it happen.


Another French writer, Anais Nin. I went through my Henry Miller and Anais Nin phase shortly after my Collette phase (interestingly enough, Anais Nin was one of the writers who poo-poo'ed Colette). But something about this women's strength and beauty with words wormed its way inside. Anais managed to hang onto herself in the midst of Henry and June's debauchery. Like any good writer, she seemed to take everything from a place up on the wall, observing, letting life settle, then acting. Her mysterious, careful approach is one I've long admired, though not always replicated.



Beatrice Wood or Beato
Beato is an American potter who only died in 1998. She was born to a society family in NYC but kind of waved her elegant hand at the whole thing. She insisted on going to France for art school until World War 1 forced her return. She became Marcel Duchamp's lover and is sometimes called "The Mama of Dada" for her work during that time on Duchamp and Roche's magazine, The Blind Man.
What I love about Beato is her joy at the world around her. Everything she did was infused with a sense of youth and gaiety. One of her most famous quotes  about her longevity (she lived to be 105) was "I owe it all to chocolate and young men."
I came so close to meeting her, even drove to the mouth of her driveway in Ojai, California, but appointments to meet her and see the studio were set months in advance and we were there on a whim. But my mother did get to meet her, and bought signed copies of her autobiographies for me.
If you've never heard of Beato, I suggest you read her stories. Especially if you are interested in art and spirituality.

So, what about you? Do you have a crush on someone from history?



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19 comments:

  1. I did my AP english paper senior year of high school on Mary Cassatt. I'm very inspired by women who forged ahead in male dominated fields. And, I like that Cassatt didn't just paint what men did, she painted what moved her--women caring for children in a beautiful way that honored them, not objectified them. Not to say all male painters objectified women, not at all, but her focus on women as more than simple subjects is why her work is timeless.

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    1. What a cool paper to do. Yes, Mary Cassatt was distinct in that way and her paintings are lovely.

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  2. I have a "thing" for Anais Nin too. In fact, I stopped speaking to a friend of mine who borrowed one of the Diaries and never returned it. And this weekend I threw away (in a premove purge) a pen and ink portrait I'd done of Colette way back in high school. And no, we didn't go to high school together ;) it was done from a photo of her.

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    1. I can't believe you threw that out? Did you at least get a photo?? I mean, once your famous, people would have wanted to see that! ;0)

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  3. Great girl crushes. Seeing as I wrote my PhD about her, I guess my ultimate girl crush is Morgan la Fey.

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  4. The Beato quote you posted here & on FB is still kicking around in my head--just love it! It lifts my heart to read about these women as I find my own way in the sciences (still male dominated, though changing) and deal with certain individuals I share house with who still don't understand aspects of equality and the need to do what my heart tells me. (Sorry, probably TMI, just on my mind this morning!)

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    1. I know. You have to read her autobiographies- she led an amazing life. Sorry you're feeling kicked about these days :0(

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  5. We, women are talented. A writer and person who inspires me is Helen Keller. :)

    http://www.miaceleste.com/?p=239

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  6. I too love the female artists and writers of the past; in fact my historical mystery series features an artist. They seemed to flourish in periods of intense creativity and it must have been fascinating to be a part of it.

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  7. I'm not sure if you've noticed the links I've put to the play my sister wrote about Alice Austen (Alice in Black and White is the play's name). Obviously, it was my sister who was seriously inspired by her, but she is amazing and what she went through is hard to fathom.

    http://aliceausten.org/her-life

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  8. I need to read more about the inspiring women you've mentioned above. Of course, I love Jane Austen and I'm curious about Harriet Tubman. Your post makes me want to brush up on my history!!

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  9. Anais Nin is definitely one of my favorites - love her and also had a 'phase' during my twenties. Sylvia Plath, around the same time, but this obsession still haunts me. Also Lucille Ball - she's just amazing. Lovely post!

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  10. I'm hugely inspired by the women in my own family - a huge legacy of strength. But I also admire those women who aren't afraid to march to the beat of their own drums - Janet Frame and Katherine Mansfield are two NZ writers who gave up much to follow their writing dreams. I've also been reading a lot about the women pilots who broke all those flying records - Jean Batten and Amelia Earhart... their fearlessness amazes me.

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  11. Oh yes I am....I love Cleopatra and Jane Austen and many more...beautiful post :).

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  12. Reading this post I couldn't help but think of the Cancan dancers of the Moulin Rouge (Jane Avril), Burlesque dancers (Sally Rand), and the women of the 1920's dancing the scandalous Charleston (Josephine Baker). Dancing is an art, and these women were rebel artists. I love that about them. Great post!

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  13. Wow! Inspiring women indeed! Great Post!

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Hey, do you ever wonder why they call it 'your two cents?'