Australasian Association for European History 27th Biennial Conference 5 to 7 July 2021 Online Conference
Abstract: Irony in Art History and the Art World’s Categorical Gender Games
There is no question that art history, auction house, and the global art world remain a white man’s world, even within an increase in receptivity and change. Ironically, these shifts to update or correct historical accounts raise questions of inclusion driven clearly by the contemporary global marketplace. The Swedish painter Hilma af Klint (1862-1944), whoseThe Secret Paintings exhibition is currently at the AGNSW until September, raises many critical questions needing to be acknowledged: While promoting Af Klint as the female artist pre-empting Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) to abstraction in art, this raises its own difficulties, from a feminist point of view. Why Af Klint rather than British artist Georgiana Houghton (1814-1884)—who exhibited her work in London in 1851 eleven years before Af Klint was born? Houghton’s works from the Victorian Spiritualist Union in Melbourne were on loan for London’s Courthault Gallery’s Georgiana Houghton: Spirit Drawings in 2016. Both Af Klint and Houghton’s spiritual practice of mediumship raises questions of artist attribution by the artist declaring their artworks were not the produce of their own conscious efforts. Further, the national isolation preceding globalism and technological access, and art historical timelines, need to be contextualised much more broadly when observing an artist or artworks’ unique values beyond art history, gender, or postmodernist categorisations on the way to secular institutions’ profitability. These will be the subject of my paper.
Dr Jewell Homad Johnson University of Sydney
Visit this exhibition at AGNSW of Af Klint The Secret Paintings