64 episodes

Created off the back of @thegreatwomenartists Instagram, this podcast is all about celebrating women artists. Presented by art historian and curator, Katy Hessel, this podcast interviews artists on their career, or curators, writers, or general art lovers, on the female artist who means the most to them.

The Great Women Artists Katy Hessel

    • Arts
    • 4.9 • 233 Ratings

Created off the back of @thegreatwomenartists Instagram, this podcast is all about celebrating women artists. Presented by art historian and curator, Katy Hessel, this podcast interviews artists on their career, or curators, writers, or general art lovers, on the female artist who means the most to them.

    Emma Ridgway on Ruth Asawa

    Emma Ridgway on Ruth Asawa

    In episode 63 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews the esteemed curator Emma Ridgway of Modern Art Oxford on the majorly influential, RUTH ASAWA (where she is set to have an exhibition in 2022!!!). 

    [This episode is brought to you by Alighieri jewellery: www.alighieri.co.uk | use the code TGWA at checkout for 10% off!]

    Artist, educator, trailblazer and sculptor, Ruth Asawa is up there with the greatest and most influential artists of the entire 20th century, Best known for her looped-wire sculptures that expand form, defy structure, and blurring all illusions between hard and soft, tall and small, strongand fragile, RuthAsawa's works ranged from colossal to small enough to fit in your hand.  

    The fourth of seven siblings, Ruth Asawa was brought up on a rural farm in California by immigrant parents of Japanese descent. Curious and energetic, she spent her childhood helping out on the farm by wiring beans, and attending Japanese calligraphy classes. But as it was the 1930s, the racial prejudice against people of Japanese heritage was worsening. Following the attack on Pearl Harbour, around 120,000 Japanese-Americans were placed in internment camps, including a teenage Ruth Asawa. Which in this episode, we speak about in great depth.  

    But against the demonstrative conditions and dehumanising set up, communities came together.Providing education for the young people in the camps, professional artists stepped up, and Ruth was taught by some of the greatest Disney animators of the day. Shaped by her teachers, Asawa set out to be an educator herself. However, despite training for three years, was denied a job due to racial prejudices. 

    So, in the summer of 1946, she enrolled at Black MountainCollege, and it was here where she flourished: ‘I spent three years there and encountered great teachers who gave me enough stimulation to last me for the rest of my life.’ Taking classes with Josef and Anni Albers to Buckminster Fuller (whose hair she cut for a bit of extra money!), Asawa took the BMC approach to her career, by inextricably linking art with life, and life with art. 

    Moving to SF in '49, Asawa's legacy in setting up art education is tough to compete with. And it is there that she still remains an icon, with the Ruth Asawa School of Arts still very much in full swing today. 

    I am not exaggerating when I say this may be the most extraordinary, hopeful, brilliant story in art history. I really hope you enjoy this as much as I did.  

    LISTEN NOW + ENJOY!!!
    FURTHER LINKS!
    https://www.davidzwirner.com/artists/ruth-asawa
    https://www.modernartoxford.org.uk/event/citizen-of-the-universe/
    https://ruthasawa.com/life/black-mountain-college/

    Follow us:
    Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
    Sound editing by Winnie Simon
    Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
    Music by Ben Wetherfield

    https://www.thegreatwomenartists.com/

    Ruth Asawa: Citizen of the Universe is curated by Emma Ridgway and Vibece Salther, organised in partnership by Modern Art Oxford UK and Stavanger Art Museum Norway, supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art.   

    Opens 28 May - 21 Aug 2022 at Modern Art Oxford then 1 Oct 2022 - 22 Jan 2023 at Stavanger Art Museum. I CAN'T WAIT!

    Cindy Kang on Berthe Morisot

    Cindy Kang on Berthe Morisot

    In episode 62 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews the esteemed curator CINDY KANG of the Barnes Foundation on the Impressionist giant, BERTHE MORISOT!

    [This episode is brought to you by Alighieri jewellery: www.alighieri.co.uk | use the code TGWA at checkout for 10% off!]

    And WOW is this an incredible insight into Morisot, who was the FIRST woman to ever exhibit with the Impressionists in 1874, and THE woman who paved the way for the Modern Parisian woman. 

    Praised for her quick, feathery, brushstrokes, infused with light and vivid colouring, Morisot's subjects ranged from family life to the fashionable women of Paris. Unlike her male counterparts, Morisot had access to the private boudoirs of women, who she captured full of vivacity, and radiating in modernity.

    Born into an upper-middle class family, along with her sister, Edma, she showed great passion and skill for art from an early age. As a result, they were encouraged and financed by their wealthy parents, who hired one of the foremost tutors in Paris, who told them they were so good it was a CATASTROPHE! 

    For the next decade, Morisot would become fully immersed in Parisian life, exhibiting, socialising, and befriending the likes of Édouard Manet, whose brother, Eugène, she would go on to marry. He was fully supportive of her career. Morisot was written about by Émile Zola, and had her work sold by the best picture dealers in Paris. 

    Continuing to radicalise conventions in painting, during the 1880s, Morisot’s brushwork became increasingly loose. Towards the end of her life, Morisot was veering towards working in a Symbolist fashion, as executed in one of her final paintings of her daughter, Portrait of Miss J. M. (Julie Dreaming), 1894, created the year before her life was sadly cut short due to a battle with pneumonia.

    LISTEN NOW + ENJOY!!!
    FURTHER LINKS!
    Cindy's exhibition: 
    https://www.barnesfoundation.org/whats-on/morisot
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/10/29/berthe-morisot-woman-impressionist-emerges-from-the-margins
    https://nmwa.org/art/artists/berthe-morisot/

    Follow us:
    Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
    Sound editing by Winnie Simon
    Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
    Music by Ben Wetherfield

    https://www.thegreatwomenartists.com/

    Stephanie Rosenthal on Yayoi Kusama

    Stephanie Rosenthal on Yayoi Kusama

    In episode 61 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews the esteemed curator and Director of Berlin's Gropius Bau, Dr Stephanie Rosenthal on the legendary artist, YAYOI KUSAMA!!!!

    [This episode is brought to you by Alighieri jewellery: www.alighieri.co.uk | use the code TGWA at checkout for 10% off!]

    And WOW is this an incredible insight to the iconic Japanese artist, who works across film to painting, performance, sculpture to installation, drawing and collage, to her famous Infinity Mirror Rooms, who is about to be the subject of a MAJOR exhibition at Gropius Bau (curated by Stephanie!!). Info here: https://www.berlinerfestspiele.de/en/berliner-festspiele/programm/bfs-gesamtprogramm/programmdetail_299677.html

    Born in Matsumoto City, Japan in 1929, to parents who ran a plant factory, the young Kusama studied painting in Kyoto. Establishing herself in the Japanese art scene from her early twenties, it was after a brief correspondence with none other than GEORGIA O'KEEFFE in the 50s, that she abandoned her native country. She arrived in NYC in 1958, with a suitcase of drawings and one aspiration: “To grab everything that went on in the city and become a star”. 

    Formidably ambitious, with “mountains of creative energy stored inside myself”, she succeeded. Situating herself amongst the cultural New York avant-garde elite, Kusama immediately began to make paintings evocative of the American style, as seen in her Infinity Net series. However, she went one step further with her microscopic, miniscule, repetitive and monochromatically coloured gestures that bridged both the emotive and visible brush mark of Abstract Expressionism and technical precision of Minimalism. 

    She went on to create thousands of soft sculptures of in which phallic protrusions covered household objects. Kusama also pushed forward ways of working with performance, installation and underground films... however was often copied by her male contemporaries!

    In 1973, she moved back to Japan, however in 1993, she returned to the spotlight when representing Japan at the Venice Biennale where she showcased all-encompassing mirror rooms. Re-catapulted to stardom in the western art world, Kusama today remains (arguably) the most famous female artist on the planet: between 2013–2018 she drew in FIVE MILLION visitors alone!

    LISTEN NOW + ENJOY!!!

    FURTHER LINKS!

    Stephanie's exhibition: 
    https://www.berlinerfestspiele.de/en/berliner-festspiele/programm/bfs-gesamtprogramm/programmdetail_299677.html
    https://www.victoria-miro.com/artists/31-yayoi-kusama/
    For those in NYC! https://www.nybg.org/event/kusama/
    ...and in LONDON THIS SUMMER! 
    https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/yayoi-kusama-infinity-mirror-roomsWhitney Museum collection! 
    https://whitney.org/exhibitions/yayoi-kusama#exhibition-artworks
    https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/yayoi-kusama-8094/introduction-yayoi-kusama
    https://www.davidzwirner.com/artists/yayoi-kusama

    Follow us:
    Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
    Sound editing by Winnie Simon
    Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
    Music by Ben Wetherfield

    https://www.thegreatwomenartists.com/

    Julie Mehretu

    Julie Mehretu

    In episode 60 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviewsone of the greatest artists of our time, the inimitable JULIE MEHRETU !!!!

    [This episode is brought to you by Alighieri jewellery: www.alighieri.co.uk | use the code TGWA at checkout for 10% off!]

    Revolutionising abstract painting for the twenty-first century, filled with frenzied vortexes and orderly and disorderly lines, Mehretu is acclaimed for her all-encompassing, large-scale, gestural paintings built up through layers of acrylic paint, and overlaid with frenetic mark-making.

    Referencing art history – from the Old Masters, dynamism of the Italian Futurists to the enveloping scale of Abstract Expressionism – and past civilizations while addressing the most immediate conditions of our contemporary moment, including migration, revolution, climate change, global capitalism, and technology, Mehretu’s points of departure are architecture, people and the city. In particular, the densely populated urban environments of the 21st Century.

    Working on a colossal scale, with intricate details and pockets of information when witnessed up close, step back and Mehretu’s paintings enable you to survey a world from afar. Erupting with colour, line, energy and movement, they evoke histories both evolving and collapsing, much like the conflictingly progressive, yet backward, world we find ourselves in today.

    Born in Ethiopia, and from an early age, raised in the United States, where she lives and works today, Mehretu studied at the Kalamazoo College, Michigan, followed by RISD. An artist-in-resident at the esteemed Studio Museum in Harlem in the early 2000s, Mehretu has since gone on to exhibit extensively around the world, from solo exhibitions at the Louisiana in Copenhagen to the Guggenheim in New York City, to numerously participating in Biennales all over the globe, from Venice to Sydney to Istanbul.

    She is a recipient of the American Art Award from the Whitney Museum of American Art, the prestigious MacArthur Fellows Award, and has been awarded the US Department of State Medal of Arts Award.

    But the reason why we are speaking today, is because Mehretu is currently the subject of a major touring retrospective of her work from the last 25 years, co-curated by esteemed curators Christine Y. Kim with Rujeko Hockley, which is currently on view at The Whitney, was previously at LACMA and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, and will go on to the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. And unsurprisingly, has been met with astonishing reviews! Check out her Whitney show here: https://whitney.org/exhibitions/julie-mehretu

    And WOW, is this one of the most enriching, enlightening conversations I have ever had. THANK YOU JULIE!!!

    Works discussed: 
    Migration Direction Map (Large), 1996
    Untitled (Yellow with Ellipses), 1998
    Renegrade Excavation, 2001
    Stadia Series, 2004
    Mogamma Seres, 2012
    Conjured Parts (eye), Ferguson, 2016

    FURTHER LINKS!
    https://whitecube.com/artists/artist/julie_mehretu
    https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/mehretu-mogamma-a-painting-in-four-parts-part-3-t13997
    https://www.lacma.org/art/exhibition/julie-mehretu
    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/21/arts/design/julie-mehretu-and-success.html

    Follow us:
    Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
    Sound editing by Winnie Simon
    Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
    Music by Ben Wetherfield

    https://www.thegreatwomenartists.com/

    Jennifer Higgie on Suzanne Valadon

    Jennifer Higgie on Suzanne Valadon

    In episode 59 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews acclaimed writer JENNIFER HIGGIE on the great Parisian painter, Suzanne Valadon (1863–1938) !!!!

    [This episode is brought to you by Alighieri jewellery: www.alighieri.co.uk | use the code TGWA at checkout for 10% off!]

    And WOW, is this one of the greatest stories in art history of the acrobat-turned-artist-model-turned-artist Valadon (born Marie-Clémentine), who grew up in Montmartre, the bohemian quarter of Paris; supported herself from the age of ten; but whose life took a turn after a fall from an acrobat in her early teens! 

    Modelling for the likes of Renoir to Toulouse-Lautrec, despite her lack of finances to afford formal art classes, she learnt via the backdoor: by studying her male acquaintances, and close friend Edgar Degas oversaw drawing. 

    Known as a wild character (who spent earnings on lavish fur coats), Valadon had a complicated personal life and was often caught up in passionate love affairs (including breaking the heart of composer, Erik Satie). Taking influence from the glittering, shard-like surfaces as pioneered by the Impressionists, at the dawn of the new century, she had developed a distinct language.

    By 1909, she was painting professionally. Defying all gender conventions and exuding the new freedoms of women, she painted herself nude alongside Utter, (her electrician lover twenty-one-years-junior), swept up in an overgrown Eden as characters Adam and Eve. 

    In 1911, at aged 46, Valadon had a solo exhibition at the gallery of renowned dealer (and former clown!) Clovis Sagot, and soon cemented herself as a regular exhibitor at the Paris Salon. Within the next few years, she would stage more successful exhibitions, and in the 1920s produced her best work yet. One of which was her monumental self-portrait, The Blue Room, 1923.

    Lying leisurely in striped trousers and a strapped top, with a cigarette hanging out her mouth and books pushed to the back of the bed, Valadon affirmed her independence and room of one’s own with assured confidence and character. She was a modern Parisian woman in the 1920s, who could do whatever she wanted, whenever she pleased.

    She rose to the peak of her fame in the 1920s, and had four major retrospective exhibitions during her lifetime. Through her paintings and prints, Valadon transformed the genre of the female nude by providing an insightful expression of women’s experiences.

    Don't miss this AMAZING story as told by Higgie, whose INCREDIBLE book "The Mirror and the Palette: 500 Years of Women's Self Portraits" has just been released! See here: https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-mirror-and-the-palette/jennifer-higgie/9781474613774

    WORKS DISCUSSED!
    The Blue Room (1923) 
    Adam and Eve (1909)
    The Joy of Life (1911) 
    Family Portrait (1912)
    Self Portrait (1927)
    Portrait of Erik Satie (1892)

    PAINTINGS FEATURING VALADON!
    The Hangover (1889) by Toulouse-Lautrec
    Dance at Bougival (1883) by Renoir
    Follow us:

    Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
    Sound editing by Winnie Simon
    Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
    Music by Ben Wetherfield

    https://www.thegreatwomenartists.com/

    Diane Radycki on Paula Modersohn Becker

    Diane Radycki on Paula Modersohn Becker

    In episode 58 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews the esteemed art historian, Diane Radycki, on the groundbreaking German Modernist PAULA MODERSOHN BECKER!!!

    [This episode is brought to you by Alighieri jewellery: www.alighieri.co.uk | use the code TGWA at checkout for 10% off!]

    And WOW, is this one of the most incredible stories in art history. A precursor to German Expressionism, Modersohn Becker was not only one of the first German artists to bring the intense and dazzling colours and brushstrokes to her home country, but the first woman artist in HISTORY to paint herself nude!! 

    Born in 1876, Modersohn Becker was raised in Bremen, attended art school in St John's Wood, London, went on to study at the traditional Society of Berlin Women Artists, and after spending a summer visiting the Worpswede art colony, settled with the group from 1898. However, she wasn't satisfied. 

    On the stroke of a new century, 1 January 1900, Modersohn Becker took a train heading for Paris, and it was here where she became enraptured by the French Modernists, their vibrant, fragmented forms. But most importantly, where she was exposed to drawing from the nude figure!

    Taking up portraits and scenes of peasant life, Modersohn-Becker’s work exuded strong, sun-drenched intense colouring and dynamism, full of expression and emotion (in 1902 she recalled, ‘personal feeling is the main thing’). But having returned to Germany, during this time she was stifled by her marriage, sucked into Worpswede life and longing for Paris.

    Retuning for the last time in 1906, she abandoned her life: ‘I have left Otto Modersohn and stand poised between my new life. What will it be like? And what will I be like in my new life? Now it is all about to happen.’ 

    During spring and summer of 1906, Modersohn-Becker produced dozens of paintings. Predominantly self-portraits and portraits of un-idealised, unconventional, and un-sensual looking women, she filled with canvases with simplified flattened forms. Radickye makes the convincing case that Modersohn Becker was even the influence behind Picasso's Gertrude Stein!

    Immersed in her life in Paris, attending exhibitions, Modersohn-Becker was enjoying life as a free woman. But having returned to Germany in 1907, where she was to give birth that October, aged 31, she died just a few days later, leaving behind over 700 paintings and 1000 drawings..
    Don't miss this AMAZING story as told by Radickye – the woman responsible for MoMA's acquisition of a Self Portrait by Paula.

    Further links:
    Diane's book!
    https://yalebooks.co.uk/display.asp?k=9780300185300https://www.moma.org/artists/4037
    https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/paula-modersohn-becker-kunsthalle-bremen/UAKCairRWHB0KQ?hl=en
    https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/paula-modersohn-becker-modern-paintings-missing-piece
    https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/26/arts/design/paula-modersohn-becker-and-her-thwarted-ambitions.html
    https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/paula-modersohn-becker-modern-paintings-missing-piece


    Follow us:
    Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
    Sound editing by Laura Hendry 
    Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
    Music by Ben Wetherfield

    https://www.thegreatwomenartists.com/

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
233 Ratings

233 Ratings

Londresamigo ,

Fantastic series

Really broadening my horizons ... Brought into the series as know and appreciate leonora carrington . Leonor fini etc women surrealist... Opened my eyes to some artists I wasnt familiar with ... Ie Suzanne valadon.. Can you do my favorite artist marie laurencin ???

ownerof a brokenheart ,

Joel

The woodman episode was one of the best from a very good series

bobbinnic ,

LOVE LOVE LOVE

Brilliant podcast! I am loving listening to this podcast whilst I sit and draw. I am getting so much inspiration and knowledge with each episode - definitely worth a listen!

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