From the Fine Art Connoisseur May/June 2022 Editor’s Note:
Women Artists, and More
What a joy it has been assembling this issue! From our front cover image by Megan J. Seiter right through to the back cover adorned by Kathryn Mapes Turner — not to mention the impressive gatefold cover created by our friends at The Bennett Prize — this is an issue that takes Fine Art Connoisseur’s longtime championing of women artists to a new level.
Our team has enjoyed reconnecting with colleagues at various organizations devoted to women in art, and we thank them for bringing us up to date on their exciting activities. See, for example, our editorial coverage of the Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club, the National Association of Women Artists, and the important exhibitions of female artistry on view this season at museums in Fort Worth and Huntsville. And rest assured that in future issues we will return to covering what’s new at such lively nonprofits as American Women Artists and Women Artists of the West.
Our highlighting of contemporary women artists comes naturally because their creations are all around us, but it remains challenging to discover female talents of the past. Recently, I was strolling through The Winter Show in Manhattan, a superb fair filled with enticing art and design of all kinds. On the always-fascinating stand of the New York City dealer Robert Simon hung a small yet compelling oil-on-copper painting that depicts Herodias (or possibly Salome) holding the head of St. John the Baptist. It was made by Virginia Vezzi (1600–1638), a gifted Italian artist of whom I had never — to my shame — even heard. As was once often the case, she developed technical skills only because her loving artist father trained her; she proceeded to train with, and then marry, the artist Simon Vouet. At age 24 she was inducted into the world’s first art academy (still operating in Rome), and soon she and her husband moved to Paris, where he became a star and she died too young.
I mention Virginia Vezzi because her obscurity should not deter us, but rather inspire us to keep digging — to learn more about historical women artists, whose unique perspectives enrich our understanding of the past, just as contemporary women artists contribute to our visual culture now.
None of this means that Fine Art Connoisseur has lost interest in men, of course. In this issue you’ll find news of a group exhibition I am co-curating this season with Michael Gormley, executive director of the innovative New York Artists Equity Gallery in Manhattan. Our topic? The male nude as seen by contemporary artists of all descriptions, in various materials and from diverse perspectives. This show should be fun, a bit provocative, and a reminder that even timeless themes like the human figure can always be considered afresh when talented artists get involved.
Here’s to a busy, art-filled spring for all of us.