‘As long as I live I will have control over my being. My illustrious lordship, I’ll show you what a woman can do.’ So wrote the great Baroque 17th-century painter Artemisia Gentileschi when questioned by her male peers about her abilities, and uttered in an age when women artists were few in number. Times have thankfully changed, but some would rightly argue that both educational and arts organisations have a way to go in creating the best critical paths for more balanced representations.
Reflecting Tate’s current programme, the work of women artists dominate these pages, both as subjects and also artists’ voices in celebration, admiration or gratitude for the inspiration of fellow practitioners past and present. The American artist Sheila Hicks met Sonia Delaunay (1885–1979) in Paris in the late 1960s. By then, Delaunay was a respected figure despite her career having been somewhat overshadowed by her husband Robert. Until now. Hicks remembers being impressed by Delaunay’s enduring ability to work across many disciplines and her ‘workaholic attitude and willingness to try out things’.
It is an aesthetic that links many of the women artists who feature in this issue, including Barbara Hepworth (1903–1975), whose forthcoming Tate Britain exhibition celebrates not only her long life of radical experimentation (both in the creation of her artworks and also the way they were to be experienced by the viewer), but also how important an international figure she became, with exhibitions across the globe from a relatively young age. Like Hepworth, the American artist Agnes Martin (1912–2004) had a singular, determined mind that ignored the fashions displayed by some of her contemporaries. Her abstract meditative canvases shamelessly embraced the notion of beauty when others explored more conceptual tactics. ‘All art work is about beauty,’ she once wrote. ‘All positive work represents it and celebrates it. All negative art protests the lack of beauty in our lives.’
The octogenarian artist Geta Bratescu, who will have her first public UK exhibition at Tate Liverpool, certainly shares Martin’s drive, as she reveals in our visit to her studio. This is exemplified in her extraordinarily varied output that encompasses performance, photo-collage, drawing, textiles and book illustrations, all created within the turbulent political context of her native Romania.
As well as displays by Rivane Neuenschwander (Tate St Ives) and Tracey Emin (Tate Britain), you can also explore how digital technology has changed the way images are made – in Tate Modern’s display Painting after Technology, which includes work by Amy Sillman and Albert Oehlen, and Tate Britain’s display The Weight of Data that features work by emerging artists Eloise Hawser, Katrina Palmer, Charlotte Prodger and Yuri Pattison.
One of Tracey Emin’s best known and most controversial works, My Bed, first made in 1998 and once in private hands, is now on long loan to Tate and on display at Tate Britain. To accompany its return to the gallery (it was first shown in the Turner Prize display), Emin has selected two of her favourite paintings by Francis Bacon, an artist she has long admired, as she tells Tate Etc.
American artist Glenn Ligon (b1960) is bringing together artworks spanning decades, continents and themes that closely relate to his own practice and his exploration of race and gender in post-war America. He will present works by, among others, Robert Morris, Lorna Simpson, David Hammons and Bruce Davidson alongside his own at Tate Liverpool this summer. Ahead of the exhibition, he discusses his relationship with these artists and their lasting significance with editor Simon Grant
During her long and fruitful life Sonia Delaunay (1885–1979) became a key figure within Parisian avant-garde circles as well as an important abstract artist. Her work across an extraordinary range of disciplines, including painting, textiles and fashion, saw her collaborate with poets, choreographers and manufacturers. In our second series of articles on the artist, Tate Etc. asked a fellow artist to talk about her long admiration for Delaunay
In our second series of articles on Sonia Delaunay, Tate Etc. asked a fashion designer to talk about his long admiration for the artist
The American artist Agnes Martin was best known for her pared down, subtly coloured abstract paintings, mostly done when she was living in splendid isolation in New Mexico. But as the forthcoming retrospective at Tate Modern aims to show, her work was far more varied than that – and it was also full of life and energy, as fellow artist Karen Schiff explains
A personal tribute to Agnes Martin by fellow artist Rosemarie Castoro
The work of Barbara Hepworth (1903–1975) is often associated with the British locations that she knew best, both St Ives and her childhood environment of Yorkshire. But as Tate Britain’s forthcoming exhibition will show, she was, from the 1930s to her death in 1975, a truly international figure who felt passionately about the role of the artist within society
Barbara Hepworth’s sculptures were photographed and filmed many times during her life, but it was the artist herself who played a major part in shaping how her work was depicted – on film, and in books and magazines
Linder’s love affair with Barbara Hepworth began on a night-time visit to the artist’s garden in St Ives in 2009, exploring the sculptures by hand in the dark. Hepworth believed that sculptures must be touched to be truly experienced, and this exploration of form and structure informed Linder’s subsequent research and the resulting performance The Ultimate Form, choreographed in conjunction with Northern Ballet. Although a prolific sculptor, Hepworth was fascinated by costume, design and performance, and this shared interest – some 60 years apart – underpinned much of Linder’s work during her Tate St Ives residency
To coincide with her forthcoming exhibition at Tate Liverpool – her first solo show in a British institution – Eleanor Clayton pays a visit to the studio of celebrated octogenarian Romanian artist Geta Brătescu
We know about his ‘drip’ paintings that continue to both puzzle and delight viewers, but late in his career Jackson Pollock changed his technique with dazzling results. His black pourings from this period will be on view at Tate Liverpool, alongside several of his equally little known yet extraordinary sculptures. Tate Etc. asked a fellow artist and admirer to tell us more
Edward Platt, Sasha Devas, Elain Harwood and Wilhelm Sasnal reflect on a work in the Tate collection
For centuries artists have both responded to and reflected on political actions and events that shape society. Now they have risen to the challenge of questioning the moral ambiguity and culpability of governments waging the war on terror, whose methods may, according to this writer, have done more to weaken democracy than any terrorist
In our continuing series in which we invite an artist to focus on a work in the Tate collection, John Stezaker reveals his debt to the self-taught American artist, sculptor and filmmaker Joseph Cornell (1903–1972), who was best known for his boxed assemblages of found objects