Sunday, October 7, 2012

Celebrating Older Women Artists

Collage - Geta Bratescu

This morning my best friend from graduate school send me a link to a wonderful article titled: The rise of the OWAs.  You may want to just stop right now and go read this article especially if you are over 50 and have been working and making art for a long time.  You may also want to go read the article if you have just begun to make art of any sort and you are any age and you are a woman.  Why?  Despite the clear strong demonstration of the talent of women artist, women have not fared as well as men in the art world (specifically white males), receiving neither the recognition or financial rewards they most surely deserved.

The article was written by Rachel Spence and published in Financial Times.  I find it very interesting that this magazine has published the article as it seems to signal that there is money to be made now that collectors are buying work by older female artists....dead or alive.

Portrait of Medea 3'-  Geta Bratescu's

The collages by Bratescu are made from bits of fabric the artist collected from childhood.  You will find three more examples HERE.

My favorite quote from the article is the very first sentence: "Often when it comes to art, the work that wins hearts and minds is different from that which conquers wallets."

Several of the women mentioned in this article are well into their 90's and I think the youngest is late 70's.  Due perhaps to the ages of the artists, most do not have websites dedicated solely to their work.  However, you can find places to catch a glimpse of their work.  You will enjoy Letizia Battaglia, Teresa Burga, Birgit Jurgenssen, Carmen Herrera, Lygia Pape, Suzanne Lacy and Lis Rhodes.  Keep in mind the time frame of the making of much of this work.  It is still fresh and timely.

The article also references Frieze Masters  which is celebrating older women artists.


for spending time at
STUDIO 24-7.

I love hearing from you and remind you that Commenting is FREE!!!


  1. Thank you for all the links...I've had some thoughts rolling around in the back of my mind from time to time on this experience, but nothing solid...I'll come back to read the links.

    there sometimes appears to be a gap of sorts in the visual art world among artists, unlike what I've experienced in the literary arts. I'm on my way to the St. James Art Fair meeting up with a group of artists and I suspect at 51 I'll be the only one of my generation and the oldest.

  2. Thanks for the article and the links. Having just reached 50, I feel like have so much more to learn and say, but have so little time. Looking forward to reading the articles and perhaps gaining insight into how to cope with this pro lem.

    1. Hey Kit! Thanks for commenting. I think the most important thing you might learn from the article and these artists is to just keep working and making your best art. Percentage wise, very few artists, male or female will ever receive "big" recognition but it's good to see that it can happen.

  3. Thank you Karen for your comments. I think I understand what you are saying about a "gap". I was in a couple of groups in years past where the more senior members were treated with great respect. Not sure if that is still true or not. I do know that as women age in our society they often become invisible and in the art world, that invisibility has often been there from a much younger age. I wish better for younger women today.

  4. Hi Terry,
    Thanks so much for this great post. As an older artist I too feel sometimes that i now have much to say with my art but feel the time squeeze in so many ways. I finally am embracing the time I do have. Finally have a website and blog. Think of you often
    Paula Swett

    1. Hey Paula! So great to hear from you. Our perception of time certainly dose change. I'll be checking out your blog and your website!!! Good to know you are well.

  5. The older I get, the happier I am. I would never want to go back and be that unknowing again. Still, every time I see a "40 under 40" riff I want to trumpet back what about 50 over 50? Maybe we need a man with the courage to stand up and say "This is what 50 looks like."

    The best is yet to be.

    1. Thank you Melanie. The lack of attention of mature (older) women artists is one of the "out-standing" examples of how women have historically been pushed aside or just simply ignored. My friend who sent me the original link for the article said, "They'll be unearthing great women artists until the end of time"...because they have been so long under acknowledged. Yes, 50 over 50, 60 over 60 etc.

    2. And not just in the visual arts - my aunt has been refining her craft as a poet for as long as I can remember (and I am no spring chicken myself) and is now being published at 85 years young!
      Look for her ageless wit in the debut collection "Dangerous Cakes" from eyewear publishing in London. Could this be the rise of the OWAs?