In a famous essay published in 1971, the feminist art historian Linda Nochlin asked “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” It was a brutal, if telling and not unfounded question to ask. Women were underrepresented in the canon; Picasso, Dalí, Van Gogh and others were held up as gods, but women were conspicuously absent from the pantheon.
Since 2015, one Instagram account has been aiming to address the imbalance. Aptly titled The Great Women Artists, it is entirely devoted to female artists: anyone, as founder Katy Hessel says, “from Yayoi Kusama to illustrators that I’d found on Instagram to grads I’d seen at art shows”, giving it a uniquely democratic and egalitarian feel.
Now, GWA is releasing a duo of T-shirts in collaboration with Amarcord Studios, the ethical T-shirt company named after a Fellini film, for release on International Women’s Day. One will feature a Louise Bourgeois spider, alongside an embroidered quote from the artist announcing that “Art is a guaranty of sanity” (and yes, she did spell it like that). The other celebrates Frida Kahlo, and her unbeatable recommendation to “Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic.” There’s also a short film outlining the rationale behind the Instagram account, created by an all-female team.
Only 35 of each will be available, making them true collectors’ items, so grab one quickly to show your appreciation for two of the very greatest of female artists.
Watch the GWA x Amarcord Studios short film here.