38 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, 88 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.

    Bridget R Cooks on Alma Thomas

    Bridget R Cooks on Alma Thomas

    In episode 37 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews the world-renowned art historian Bridget R Cooks on the SENSATIONAL and PIONEERING Abstract artist, ALMA THOMAS (1891–1978) !!!!

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

    And WOW. This is one of the most incredible and UPLIFTING life stories I have heard of an artist whose work I am completely in love with – partially for the reason that Alma Thomas did not become an artist until she was in her 70s!!!

    A schoolteacher from 1924–1960 (!), it wasn't until after retirement that Alma Thomas took up painting professionally. Enrolling in University as a senior, she quickly shot to fame and was the first Black woman to have a solo exhibition at the Whitney in 1972. She was a groundbreaker. 

    Known for her electric-like canvases, Alma Thomas transposed the way she saw the world onto the canvas through her shards of shimmering colour that represented flowers, music, science, to the first man landing on the moon and the invention of colour television. Some more muted than others, colour was Alma Thomas's lifeline: “A world without colour would seem dead. Colour, for me, is life”

    In this episode – one of my favourites EVER, as told by Bridget so eloquently – we discuss Alma Thomas's life in great detail – including a VERY sweet and personal story from Bridget; what made her choose to be an educator for nearly five decades; her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement despite not 'directly' addressing these issues in her work; her relevance today; looking at museums' role in promoting Black artists; and of course, Alma's global fame when none other than MICHELLE OBAMA acquired her work as the first Black woman artist in the White House Collection in 2015.

    This is a really beautiful, uplifting SUNNY episode. And I hope you enjoy it.

    WORKS DISCUSSED IN THIS EPISODE!
    Iris, Tulips, Jonquils, Crocuses (1969)
    Arboretum Presents White Dogwood (1972)
    March on Washington (1963–4)
    Wind, Sunshine, and Flowers (1968)
    Blast Off (1970)
    Launch Pad (1970)
    Cherry Blossom Symphony (1973)
    Pond Spring Awakening (1972)
    Resurrection (White House – 1966)

    FURTHER READING: 
    https://nmwa.org/art/artists/alma-woodsey-thomas/
    https://studiomuseum.org/exhibition/alma-thomas
    https://www.whitehousehistory.org/photos/resurrection-by-alma-thomas

    This episode is sponsored by Alighieri 
    https://alighieri.co.uk/
    @alighieri_jewellery
    Use the code: TGWA for 10% off! 

    Follow us:
    Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
    Sound editing by Amber Miller (@amber_m.iller)
    Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
    Music by Ben Wetherfield

    https://www.thegreatwomenartists.com/

    • 54 min
    Loie Hollowell

    Loie Hollowell

    In episode 36 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews the sensational artist, LOIE HOLLOWELL!!!!

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

    And WOW was it fascinating to hear all about the ideas behind Loie's MIND-BLOWING, electric-like paintings that abstract the body through fragments of geometric shapes.

    Always using a vibrant colour palette, her PULSATING and PSYCHEDELIC works explore themes around sexuality, birth, women's bodies, which we discuss in-depth!

    First appearing as highly textured two dimensional works, witness them in real life and her works evolve from flat geometric masterpieces into an almost sculptural sphere that at once give the illusion of expanding and contracting, merging and converging.

    Having only just given birth for the second time a matter of months ago – during a pandemic! – Loie created an incredible body of work titled "Going Soft" in reaction to this, which didn't just depict how the body changed, but how the mind absorbed everything happening...

    Having grown up in Northern California in the 80s and 90s and now based in Queens, New York, Loie still bases much of her work on her upbringing in the expansive West Coast land, as well as citing from her influencers Agnes Pelton and Georgia O'Keeffe.

    Through her works, Loie is reimagining the way we don’t just see, but experience women’s bodies in painting, and I hope you enjoy our discussion around this!!

    WORKS DISCUSSED IN THIS EPISODE!
    Beacon (2018)
    A Gentle Meeting of the Tips (2018)
    Post Partum (2018)
    Birthing Dance (2018)
    Deep Tear (2020)
    Perspective from Above and Below (23 April 2020)
    Descent into Chaos (1 June 2020)

    Further reading: 
    https://www.pacegallery.com/artists/loie-hollowell/
    https://www.pacegallery.com/online-exhibitions/loie-hollowell/

    This episode is sponsored by Alighieri 
    https://alighieri.co.uk/
    @alighieri_jewellery
    Use the code: TGWA for 10% off! 

    Follow us:
    Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
    Sound editing by Amber Miller (@amber_m.iller)
    Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
    Music by Ben Wetherfield

    https://www.thegreatwomenartists.com/

    • 44 min
    Natalie Lettner on Maria Lassnig

    Natalie Lettner on Maria Lassnig

    In episode 35 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews the world-renowned art historian and biographer, Natalie Lettner, on the FASCINATING and BRILLIANT Austrian-born artist, MARIA LASSNIG (1919–2014) !!!

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

    And WOW. This is one of the most interesting life stories I have ever heard of an artist whose work I am COMPLETELY blown away by. Known for her psychologically charged figurative paintings, Lassnig's work is based on the extreme observation of the physical presence of the body – what she termed ‘body awareness’. 

    Born in 1919, in a small town in southern Austria, Maria's mother gave birth to her out of wedlock and later married a much older man, but their troubled and tempestuous relationship meant Lassnig was raised by her grandmother, who hardly spoke to her since she was six.

    Studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in the midst of the Second World War, where she was only exposed to classical and academic art, Lassnig quickly moved away from the state-approved academic realism and travelled around Europe in search of the avant-garde. 

    After experimenting with surrealism, abstraction, expressionism and constantly being treated lesser than her male counterparts, at age nearly 50 Lassnig moved on to NYC to join forces with the feminist movement. And it was here where her work turned to external realism and painted portraits, nudes and still lifes, at times combining these with her ‘body awareness’ self-portraits.

    Recording her psychological states through a direct and unflinching style, her work used garish greens, yellows and blues to giver her paintings a POWERFUL and DRASTIC impact. 

    Maria Lassnig painted like NO OTHER in the history of art. With such conviction, force, and lack of embarrassment. She was not afraid to reveal anything. 

    This is one of the most fascinating stories of an artist I have ever SEEN. An artist who almost predicted the influence of technology through her paintings (in the 80s she became obsessed with the machine, and addicted to television!!). 

    Please listen to this sensation of an episode with the brilliant Natalie who tells her story so well. Only to be recognised with a major exhibition at the age of 89 at the Serpentine Galleries. 

    WORKS DISCUSSED IN THIS EPISODE!
    You, or Me (2005)
    Expressive Self Portrait (1945)
    Beams (1950)
    Head (1956)
    Self Portrait as a Monster (2005)
    Self Portrait with Stick (1971)
    Chain of Tradition
    My Teddy is more real than me (2002)
    Hospital (2005)

    Further reading: 
    https://www.hauserwirth.com/artists/2795-maria-lassnig
    https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-liverpool/exhibition/maria-lassnig
    Natalie's brilliant book!
    https://www.abebooks.co.uk/Maria-Lassnig-Natalie-Lettner-Brandst%C3%A4tter-Verlag/22323627600/bd

    This episode is sponsored by Alighieri 
    https://alighieri.co.uk/
    @alighieri_jewellery
    Use the code: TGWA for 10% off! 

    Follow us:
    Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
    Sound editing by Amber Miller (@amber_m.iller)
    Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
    Music by Ben Wetherfield

    https://www.thegreatwomenartists.com/

    • 53 min
    Somaya Critchlow

    Somaya Critchlow

    In episode 34 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews one of the most exciting and brilliant young painters working in the world right now, the great SOMAYA CRITCHLOW!!

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

    A graduate of Brighton University and The Royal Drawing School, Somaya is known for her powerful depictions of bold female characters and delicately rendered objects – that she creates on both a mid-size and minute scale!

    Challenging and subverting cultural expectations of race, gender, and power in the history of art, Somaya’s sometimes icon-like work adopts historical and classical motifs from the likes of Rubens to Velazquez.

    Although rooted in historical imagery, her works fuse traditional painting with the modern day, referencing film to hip hop, which she explores in depth through commenting on the cultural, class and political dynamics of contemporary society.

    In this episode we discuss painting the female nude, and challenging past perceptions and institutional norms; Somaya's interest in the work of feminist writer Angela Carter; subverting cultural expectations and what feminism means today; her early interest in objects and museums; film and television; as well as an in-depth exploration into her current INCREDIBLE solo exhibition, "Underneath a Bepop Moon" at Maximillian William (on view until 15 August!).

    ENJOY!!!!

    Further reading as discussed!!  
    https://maximillianwilliam.com/underneath-a-bebop-moon/
    https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/typescript-draft-of-the-sadeian-woman-by-angela-carter
    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/sep/02/unmastered-desire-katherine-angel-review

    This episode is sponsored by Alighieri 
    https://alighieri.co.uk/
    @alighieri_jewellery
    Use the code: TGWA for 10% off! 

    Follow us:
    Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
    Sound editing by Amber Miller (@amber_m.iller)
    Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
    Music by Ben Wetherfield

    https://www.thegreatwomenartists.com/

    • 39 min
    Lubaina Himid

    Lubaina Himid

    In episode 33 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews one of the most groundbreaking, important, and influential artists working in the world today, the Turner-Prize winning artist, LUBAINA HIMID!!

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

    Known for working in painting, drawing, collage, printmaking, cut-outs, and installations, Himid paints onto a variety of surfaces from ceramic to wood which produce objects with performative potential intended to be encountered in a space. 

    A tireless champion of marginalised voices, Himid has dedicated her thirty-year-plus career to uncovering silenced histories, to valorise ‘the contribution Black people have made to cultural life in Europe for the past several hundred years’.

    Born in Zanzibar in 1954, Himid moved to Britain with her mother when she was just four months old. She studied Theatre Design at Wimbledon College of Art, and later Royal College of Art.

    In the 1980s, Lubaina became one of the LEADERS and TRAILBLAZERS of Britain’s Black Arts movement, curating three shows – which we disucss in depth.

    Living and work in Preston, she is a CBE, a Royal Academician, the winner of the 2017 Turner Prize, and a professor at the University of Central Lancashire; in the collection of the Tate, V&A, Whitworth, Walker Art Gallery, plus more; and has had solo exhibitions at the New Museum in New York, Tate St Ives, Chisenhale, and it has just been announced that Lubaina will have a major solo exhibition at Tate Modern in November 2021. 

    This is really one of the greatest conversations I have EVER had. I am completely in awe at Lubaina and her BRILLIANT work that remains more present than ever. I really hope you enjoy this episode.

    This episode is sponsored by Alighieri 
    https://alighieri.co.uk/
    @alighieri_jewellery
    Use the code: TGWA for 10% off! 

    Follow us:
    Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
    Sound editing by Amber Miller (@amber_m.iller)
    Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
    Music by Ben Wetherfield

    https://www.thegreatwomenartists.com/

    • 1 hr 18 min
    Julie Curtiss

    Julie Curtiss

    In episode 32 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews the phenomenal, Brooklyn-based artist, JULIE CURTISS!!

    [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 MOST exciting artists working today, Julie is known for her bold, graphic, highly stylised and Neo-Surrealist works of faceless and fragmented women, and food. Often swept up in an eerily dreamscape, her often cropped works allow us as viewers to interpret a world beyond what we are looking at. 

    Working in a myriad of mediums including painting, sculpture, and gouache on paper, Julie focuses on the relationship between nature and culture, as well as exposing and reworking female archetypes through motifs of flowing hair, long nails, and high heels. 

    Speaking about her work she has said: "In my images, I enjoy the complementarity of humour and darkness, the uncanny and the mundane, grotesque shapes and vivid colours."

    Born and raised in Paris, Curtiss studied at l'Ėcole des Beaux-Arts before moving first to Japan and then to New York. She is known for referencing 18th and 19th century French painting, as well as fusing together the pop-like imagery the Chicago Imagists, reminiscent of comic books and advertising. 

    But in a similar manner to the Post-Impressionist painters, she mines her subjects from contemporary, everyday life, representing and exposing its curious, small details in cropped and ambiguous compositions that are erotically charged, cinematic and dreamlike in feel. 

    I LOVED this HIGHLY fascinating conversation with Julie. In this episode we speak about her INCREDIBLE paintings, as well as her introduction to art through posters, her upbringing in France vs life in America, advertising, Jeff Koons, obsession with technologies entering our life, darkness in cinema, FOOD, the post-war era of the housewife, the constant upkeep of appearances for women, and MANY MORE!!

    Further reading:
    https://whitecube.com/artists/artist/julie_curtiss
    https://antonkerngallery.com/artists/julie_curtiss

    ENJOY!!

    WORKS DISCUSSED IN THIS EPISODE
    Lateral Embrace 
    Orlando 
    Double Selfie MoMA
    Guests

    Further reading: 
    http://www.houldsworth.co.uk/exhibition-thumbnails/little-is-enough-for-those-in-love-1579801608/1
    https://www.goodman-gallery.com/artists/cassi-namoda

    This episode is sponsored by Alighieri 
    https://alighieri.co.uk/
    @alighieri_jewellery
    Use the code: TGWA for 10% off! 

    Follow us:
    Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
    Sound editing by Amber Miller (@amber_m.iller)
    Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
    Music by Ben Wetherfield

    https://www.thegreatwomenartists.com/

    • 44 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
88 Ratings

88 Ratings

5PinkNails ,

Insightful and Real

Katy interviews an incredibly vast, diverse series of artists and historians with questions that begin at the relatable but eventually tease out valuable nuances of artists’ biographies and processes. Even an interview about an artist like Eva Hesse, whose work has been exhaustively discussed, yielded so many fascinating thoughts and questions that are true to the inspiration of Hesse’s work. Thanks for this amazing resource!

Miriam Schulman ,

Great find!

Love the interviews steeped in deep knowledge of art history.

Especially enjoyed the interview with Deborah Roberts

Miriam schulman @schulmanArt host of The Inspiration Place podcast

TiaTuenge ,

The most inspiring podcast

I am loving this podcast so much. Katy is a wonder interviewer, giving her guests room to share from their hearts.
It’s about time women artists were given a spotlight.

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