The Changing Role of Women in Art History

The mainstream media does a poor job of discussing the role of women in art history, but for many of you wondering, women are a part of the present, past, and future of art! However, one thing is for sure: the traditional narrative of women’s role in society has prevented many women from expressing their love for art.

This blog discusses the changing role of women in art history, what they were before, and how they evolved into the art-loving enthusiastic demographic group today!

A painting of a historic female artist, Frida Kahlo

Female Artists in the Past

In history, women had only one role: to stay in the background, act as muses, or be supportive partners to their artist husbands. Anything else was stepping out of the bounds, and men had trouble seeing women exploring art as their equivalent. In addition, women wanting to explore arts also faced multiple issues. These issues included a lack of proper training and facilities and galleries refusing to showcase or buy artwork from women artists.

However, do you know that the first artist in history was a woman named Dibutades? She painted the outline of her lover on a wall, which became popular among many artists. But, history tells us very little about female artists that came after Dibutades, and we can only assume that a small number of women were able to explore their interests.

Women in Art History Before the 21st Century

Before the 21st Century, whenever a female artist managed to get famous or sell artwork, the credit would be given to the men around her! This happened to Mary Beale, a famous portrait painter whose husband got the limelight in the late 1600s. Similarly, most credits for Gwen John’s self-portraits went to her brother.

However, the feminist movement later fought to get women their deserved credit and recognition. By the 19th and 20th centuries, many female artists had become famous, and society began to see their contribution as artists and collectors.

In a Cloud by emerging artist Claire Idera

Current Position of Women in Art

Sadly, society is still male-dominated, but things are changing, as many emerging female artists are creating pieces that every art admirer loves! At Four You Gallery, we aim to add female artists to the mainstream art scene by showcasing online exhibitions by female artists. Whether you’re an old collector or a new art lover, we’ve got something for you! Visit our contemporary fine arts gallery and see the art for the women, by the women, and of the women!


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