The Story of Women and Art

Watch The Story of Women and Art

  • 2014
  • 1 Season
  • 7.4  (27)

The Story of Women and Art is a documentary series presented by historian and professor Amanda Vickery, which initially aired on BBC Two in 2014. The show explores the history of women in art from the Renaissance era up until the 21st century and aims to shed light on the obstacles that female artists have faced throughout history.

Throughout the six-part series, Vickery travels across Europe and the United States to visit art museums and galleries, meet with prominent female artists, historians, and curators, and examine the works of various female artists in their historical and cultural contexts.

The episodes are divided thematically, and each focuses on a different aspect of women's roles in the art world. The first episode, "Pioneers," discusses the groundbreaking work of female artists during the Renaissance and the Baroque period, including Artemisia Gentileschi, Lavinia Fontana, and Sofonisba Anguissola. The episode explores the challenges that these women faced in a male-dominated art world, and how they overcame these obstacles to create some of the most beautiful and innovative artworks of their time.

The second episode, "Handmaids of the Arts," tells the story of how women have traditionally been relegated to the role of "assistants" or "collaborators" in the creation of art. The episode explores how women's contributions to artists such as William Hogarth and Joshua Reynolds have often been overlooked and discusses their often-uncredited contributions.

In "Breaking the Mold," the third episode, Vickery contextualizes the changes women have driven in 19th-century art. With the rise of the industrial revolution and capitalism, opportunities for women in art began to develop. The episode explores the challenges female artists faced in having their work taken seriously in the face of the traditional male critics of the time. It also discusses some of the landmark pieces created by female artists during this period, including Georgia O'Keeffe's series of paintings of flowers.

The fourth episode, "Take Note," looks at women's role in the Parisian art scene of the early 20th century, focusing especially on the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist movements. The episode talks about women's classes wherein they would gather to learn how to paint, which was something of a revolutionary act in itself although the women mostly never credited for their art as their own works. Vickery discusses artists such as Mary Cassatt, Berthe Morisot, and Suzanne Valadon and examines the networks of support that existed among female artists during this time.

With the backdrop of the 1960s and the feminist movement, "No Turning Back" is the fifth episode of The Story of Women and Art. This episode looks at the feminist movement's impact on the art world and chronicles the birth of "feminist art" protests and their focus on discrimination against female artists. Vickery highlights the work of revolutionary feminist artists such as Judy Chicago and explores the ways in which feminism's impact on society began to affect the art world as well.

Finally, in the last episode, "Revolution," Vickery puts the importance of women in today's art scene under scrutiny. She explores the work of contemporary female artists who continue to challenge artistic norms and advance the representation of women and gender roles in art. Vickery interviews influential women like Bridget Riley about their works, and the impact that gender discrimination still has on the art world.

Overall, The Story of Women and Art is a fascinating and comprehensive exploration of women's contributions to the art world throughout history. It highlights artistic struggles, challenges, and innovations and the role of the feminist movement along with emerging contemporary artists. The documentary is informative and thought-provoking, and it sheds light on an essential but often overlooked aspect of art history.

The Story of Women and Art
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Episode 3
3. Episode 3
June 12, 2014
As women clamored for more rights in the 19th and 20th centuries, they blazed new trails in the artistic arena as well.
Episode 2
2. Episode 2
June 5, 2014
In 18th-century Britain and France, women artists were typically considered "amateurs"-creating art for the love of it, instead of for payment. But a number of enterprising women made art their professions.
Episode 1
1. Episode 1
May 29, 2014
Journeying from Renaissance Italy to the Dutch Republic and beyond, Vickery reveals overlooked women artists of the 16th and 17th centuries.
  • Premiere Date
    May 29, 2014
  • IMDB Rating
    7.4  (27)