Artemisia as a Feminist

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Nanette Salomon, a very well known feminist writer, wrote the article, “Judging Artemisia: A Baroque Woman in Modern Art History.” The article opens up with a discussion about the 2001-2 exhibition of Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi: Father and Daughter Painters in Baroque Italy. The author explains that three things are unusual here: the fact that two famous artists were presented at the same time, that they were related as father and daughter, and the fact that the woman was better known than the man. Her intent in this article is to look at the effects of this trope (figure of speech) in the past and in the present.

Salomon argues that this comparison technique has been the main feature or art historical analysis. It puts a versus between two artists and insists that one of them be the master (the better one) and the other to be the pupil. She says that this system is as old as the devaluation of women and other minorities, and that as a feminist this two-artist-comparison is harmful to the image of the female artist, since it triggers value judgments through the practice of comparative analysis. So, the whole point of this article, is to shed some light on the historical and ideological frames of artistic judgment by looking at the judgment of Artemisia Gentileschi.

Nanette Salomon also talks about the history of aesthetic judgment, that is, criticizing art. She says that there are many strong motives for artistic judgment; the most significant one is the desire to define oneself through the expression of a personal opinion of a work of art. Also, furthermore, to situate oneself in relation to others through judging the quality of art, or in other words, aesthetic judgment. Criticizing art became a natural social behavior.

The author mentions two crucial moments in the history of judging art, artists, and particularly Artemisia Gentileschi. The first one was the Vasarian one, which occurred in the late sixteenth century and early seventeenth...
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