79 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

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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.

    Deborah Levy on Francesca Woodman, Lee Miller, Paula Rego, Leonora Carrington

    Deborah Levy on Francesca Woodman, Lee Miller, Paula Rego, Leonora Carrington

    In episode 78 – and SEASON FINALE – of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews the very brilliant writer, DEBORAH LEVY on photographers Francesca Woodman and surrealist Lee Miller, and painters Paula Rego and surrealist Leonora Carrington!!!

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

    The author of seven novels, Levy is one of the leading writers of our time having been shortlisted twice each for the Goldsmiths Prize and the Man Booker Prize. She has also written for The Royal Shakespeare Company and her pioneering theatre writing is collected in Levy: Plays 1. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and, she has also taught writing at the Royal College of Art for ten years.

    But the reason why we are speaking with Deborah today is because over the past few years, she has brought out one of the greatest – and most emotionally daring – trilogy of memoirs, which she sees as a living autobiography on writing, gender politics and philosophy: Things I Don't Want to Know, The Cost of Living, and Real Estate, which throughout unexpectedly make short segues to female artists – from Francesca Woodman to Louise Bourgeois – as though their work becomes a character, an emotion, or reminds you of elements in your daily life. It is such a beautiful and relatable way about talking about art, and as an art lover, captivating to see artists’ work interwoven like this.

    So, I thought what better way to celebrate this special episode by looking into the lives and works of four women artists from her brilliantly unique perspective. I am so delighted to say that today we will discuss photographers Francesca Woodman and surrealist Lee Miller, and painters Paula Rego and surrealist Leonora Carrington… 

    LISTEN NOW + ENJOY!!! Some links:

    https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/253221/things-i-don-t-want-to-know/9780241983089.html

    https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/295634/the-cost-of-living/9780241977569.html

    https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/295635/real-estate/9780241977583.html

    and more books! https://www.penguin.co.uk/authors/7514/deborah-levy.html

    THANK YOU FOR LISTENING TO SEASON 6 OF THE GWA PODCAST!

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

    https://www.thegreatwomenartists.com/

    • 47 min
    Bisa Butler

    Bisa Butler

    In episode 77 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews the fantastic artist, BISA BUTLER!!!

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

    One of the leading artists working today, Butler uses the medium of textile for her vivid and vibrant portraits of subjects that weave personal and historical narratives of Black life. From integrating members of her own family derived from old photographs to immortalising celebrated figures from Chadwick Boseman to Frederick Douglass, or those unknown from depression-era photographs, Butler’s oeuvre aims to, in her words, “tell the story – the African American side – of American life”.

    Born and raised in New Jersey, where she still resides today, Butler studied for her BA at the prestigious Howard University – where she was taught under the AfriCobra group – and for an MA at Montclair State University, it was here when she first began using the medium of textiles after assembling together a portrait quilt for her grandmother.

    Working as a high school art teacher for more than a decade, Butler worked on her fibre creations in school holidays and at the weekend, exhibiting at churches and community centres. And it is this medium which she has come to pioneer – not only by integrating portraits in such meticulous ways, but by fusing a range of fabrics in her work – from her father’s homeland of Ghana, batiks from Nigeria, and prints from South Africa.

    Butler’s rise has been astronomical. Having had her first solo exhibition in 2017, within just a few years she has had solo exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Katonah Museum of Art; made two covers for TIME Magazine, as well as a cover for New York Magazine featuring Questlove, and for those in Los Angeles, her work is currently and prominently on view at LACMA’s hotly anticipated exhibition, Black American Portraits.

    LISTEN NOW + ENJOY!!!
    Follow us:
    Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
    Sound editing by Nada Smiljanic
    Research assistant: Viva Ruggi
    Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
    Music by Ben Wetherfield

    https://www.thegreatwomenartists.com/

    • 58 min
    William J Simmons on Cindy Sherman

    William J Simmons on Cindy Sherman

    In episode 76 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews William J Simmons on the legendary CINDY SHERMAN!!!

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

    Emerging in the late 1970s and early 1980s with the “Pictures Generation”, Cindy Sherman, one of the greatest living artists, once said, “through a photograph you can make people believe anything". Transforming herself into unsettlingly convincing identities evocative of Hitchcock films, horror movies, clowns, housewives, supermodels, or valley girls, Sherman’s works so brilliantly hold a mirror up to our complicated and warped society. She explores our ever-changing, superficial, abject, aspirational or society obsessed identities, of which she has said “mask the life that we put on daily”.

    Born of her own frustrations with societal expectations of women, Sherman began to use her body as a political tool. Playing on society’s obsession with youth, artifice, and the so-often silent, objectified female character in movies, she began work on her Untitled Films Stills, 1977–80, a series which we discuss in depth.

    Made up of 69 small, black-and-white images of unnervingly familiar (and disturbing) filmic characters, she plays the blonde pin-up, the perfect housewife, and the secretarial graduate about to take on the big city. At other times, she appears stranded on the road alone. The power of Sherman’s work is that she shows us versions of the truth; making us question both the reality for women, but also the context in which this character exists.

    Cementing her name and earning much acclaim in the New York art world, as the 70s and 80s progressed Sherman continued to reinvent the wheel. From the valley-girl-style Centrefolds, she then went totally against society and the art market’s idea of beauty and switched her lens to one of abjection for Fairy Tales and Disasters, 1985–89. Later, she turned to history and then in 2008, her Society Portraits: with Sherman playing uncomfortably lifelike, wealthy socialites, blown up to the scale as if hung in the subject’s grandiose hallway – complete with gilded frames. Their faces are filled with prosthetics, their bodies fashioned from fake nails, visible wigs, warped tights, and dolly-like shoes, the closer you look, the clearer it becomes that they are visibly and intentionally complete living façade!!!!

    A curator, writer, and poet based between Los Angeles and New York, Simmons is also an expert on the Pictures Generation, a group of American artists who came of age in the early 1970s known for their critical analysis of media culture, one of whom includes the great Cindy Sherman. Sherman – who today rarely ever gives interviews, as she has said it is not her place to speak about her work – is known for redefining portraiture with her performative works in which she produces, stars and directs.

    MORE LINKS:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000775t
    https://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/cindy-sherman/exhibition/
    https://www.hauserwirth.com/artists/31810-cindy-sherman

    LISTEN NOW + ENJOY!!!
    Follow us: Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
    Sound editing by Nada Smiljanic
    Research assistant: Viva Ruggi
    Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
    Music by Ben Wetherfield

    https://www.thegreatwomenartists.com/

    • 44 min
    Kudzanai-Violet Hwami

    Kudzanai-Violet Hwami

    In episode 75 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews one of the most exciting young painters working today, Kudzanai-Violet Hwami !!!!

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

    Born in Zimbabwe and raised between there, South Africa, and the UK, Hwami is fast becoming one of the leading artists of her generation. Having received her BA from Wimbledon College of Arts, where she was shortlisted for the Bloomberg New Contemporaries, among many other prizes; this year, Hwami completed an MFA at the Ruskin School of Art at Oxford University.

    In 2019, she represented her country of birth at the 58th Venice Biennale alongside three artists, and in the same year had her first institutional solo show at Gasworks in London called (15,952km) via Trans – Sahara Highway N1.

    Rich in colour, subject, and scale, Hwami’s exuberant and vivid paintings of self-portraits and her extended family draw on the artist’s autobiographical history. Sourced from images ranging from the internet to family photo albums, they explore representations of the black body, along with notions of sexuality, gender and spirituality.

    Experimenting with photography and digitally collaged images, and often incorporating other media such as silkscreen, pastel or charcoal, Hwami’s bold painting’s offer an insight into a deeply personal world, whilst also appearing universal and familiar; the artist has said, ‘with the collapsing of geography and time and space, no longer am I confined in a singular society but simultaneously I am experiencing Zimbabwe and South Africa and the UK, in my mind. I’m in the UK, but I carry those places with me everywhere I go.’

    But the reason why we are speaking with Kudzanai-Violet today is because she is currently the subject of and featured in two of my favourite exhibitions up in London right now: the Hayward Gallery’s painting show “Mixing it Up” and her solo exhibition, “when you need letters for your skin” at Victoria Miro Gallery, a show i found utterly spellbinding with its poignant, personal and raw paintings -- painting she describes as “visual letters”.

    https://www.victoria-miro.com/artists/240-kudzanai-violet-hwami/
    https://www.gasworks.org.uk/exhibitions/kudzanai-violet-hwami-2019-09-19/
    https://www.instagram.com/mwana.wevhu/?hl=en


    LISTEN NOW + ENJOY!!!
    Follow us: Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
    Sound editing by Nada Smiljanic
    Research assistant: Viva Ruggi
    Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
    Music by Ben Wetherfield

    https://www.thegreatwomenartists.com/

    • 39 min
    Flavia Frigeri on Marisol

    Flavia Frigeri on Marisol

    In episode 74 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews the acclaimed art historian, Flavia Frigeri on 60s Pop sensation, MARISOL!!!!!! 

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

    Venezuelan-American artistMaria Sol Escobar (who went by the name of ‘Marisol’) (1930–2016) was hailed for her wooden sculptures with their deadpan expressions and awkward, playful stances. Merging hand-carved woodenfigures with real life objects, (forks, hats, boots, bags), she mocked right-wing America, commented on female identity, challenging Western ideals.

    Raised between Paris, Caracas, and Los Angeles, Marisol arrived in New York City in 1950, and quickly became a central part of the development of ‘Pop’. She attracted enormous attention in the early 60s(when she was more famous than her friend, Andy Warhol). Thousands queued up for her 1966 exhibition at Sidney Janis’s Gallery.

    Blank-faced, boxed in, comical and disturbing, Marisol’s hand-carved sculptures reflect the silenced and sexualised women idealised by 1960s media. Her women stare blankly ahead, void of personality, connection or interest, but draped in the high fashions of the day: sporting headbands, minidresses and heeled leather boots. Working at a time when male Pop artists favoured the ‘factory-like’ approach to working(with their entourage of assistants and engagement with hard-edged, industrial materials), Marisol hit back and formed her own version of Pop.


    Influenced by Pre-Colombian and folk art, she hand-carved each sculpture alone, perhaps to emphasise the only ‘human’ aspect of the figures who had otherwise been stripped of their identities, personas, (and brains), all for the purpose of pleasing or fitting into society. They are a stark reminder of the trappings of femininity, still very much alive today.

    Currently the ‘Chanel Curator for the Collection’ at the National Portrait Gallery, London, Flavia Frigeri has held numerous curatorial posts such as at Tate Modern, where she co-curated The World Goes Pop (2015), which told a global story of pop art, breaking new ground along the way.

    From Latin America to Asia, and from Europe to the Middle East, this explosive exhibition explored art produced around the world during the 1960s and 1970s, showing how different cultures and countries responded to the movement, including one of the greatest artists, of the 20th century, Marisol Sol Escobar.

    LISTEN NOW + ENJOY!!!
    Follow us: Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
    Sound editing by Nada Smiljanic
    Research assistant: Viva Ruggi
    Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
    Music by Ben Wetherfield

    https://www.thegreatwomenartists.com/

    • 44 min
    Jordan Casteel

    Jordan Casteel

    In episode 73 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews one of the most trailblazing artists alive today, JORDAN CASTEEL !!!!!!! 

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

    Born and raised in Denver and now based in New York City, Casteel is hailed for her portraits and landscapes imbued with expressivity and authenticity, gestural brushwork and bold swathes of colour, which capture the fleeting and very real moments of life, closeness, and honest relationships.  

    Since receiving her BA from Agnes Scott College, Georgia for Studio Art in 2011, and her MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Yale School of Art, 2014, the past seven years for Casteel have been monumental. In 2020, she presented a critically-acclaimed major solo exhibition titled “Within Reach,” at the New Museum, New York; and other recent institutional solo exhibitions include “Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze,” presented at both the Denver Art Museum, CO (2019), and the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, CA (2019–20).  

    In recent years, she has participated in exhibitions at institutional venues such as SF MoMA; Art Institute of Chicago; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Crystal Bridges; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; MoCA Los Angeles, CA (2018); The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY (2017 and 2016), where between 2015–16 she participated in their prestigious residency programme, among many others. Casteel’s paintings have graced the front cover of American Vogue, Time Magazine, and in 2019 were blown up to 1,400 square foot for Manhattan’s High Line. As of 2021, Casteel is also the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.  

    But the reason why we are speaking with Jordan today, in London I might add, is because she has just unveiled one of the most hotly anticipated exhibitions of the year, and her first ever UK solo exhibition at Massimo De Carlo: “There is a Season”, a show focussing on the minutiae of daily interactions, conversations, and connections, which embraces the ebb and flow of lived experiences, articulated by the rhythmic tick of time, which I cannot wait to find out more about…


    FURTHER LINKS!
    https://www.massimodecarlo.com/exhibition/521/there-is-a-season
    http://www.jordancasteel.com/
    https://caseykaplangallery.com/artists/casteel/
    https://www.instagram.com/jordanmcasteel/?hl=en
    https://www.macfound.org/fellows/class-of-2021/jordan-casteel
    https://www.newmuseum.org/exhibitions/view/jordan-casteel-within-reach

    LISTEN NOW + ENJOY!!!
    Follow us:Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hesselSound editing by Nada SmiljanicResearch assistant: Viva RuggiArtwork by @thisisaliceskinnerMusic by Ben Wetherfield
    https://www.thegreatwomenartists.com/

    • 46 min

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