By Celia Sierra
Madrid, Oct 5 (efe-epa).- Throughout history, women have mainly been depicted in art as objects of desire or saints while female artists were pushed aside. An exhibition at Madrid’s Prado Museum aims to start redressing this historic imbalance.
Miguel Falomir, director of the art gallery in the Spanish capital, said it is the museum’s most ambitious exhibition about women and “the most complex from a conceptual point of view”.
“Uninvited Guests. Episodes on Women, Ideology and the Visual Arts in Spain (1833-1931)” opened six months behind its original schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic and will only be enjoyed by residents as the city has been put into another lockdown.
It is due to run until March 2021 with 130 works, almost all from the gallery’s collection which has around 50 female artists and almost 5,000 male painters.
“This is not a biennial about painters, nor about archetypes. It’s about giving visibility to the painters of the 19th and early 20th centuries and explaining the patriarchal mold they had to face,” explained curator Carlos Navarro.
The tour is structured in two parts, one with works by men in which women occupy a subsidiary role and a second that features a series of female artists of the time, many previously unseen by the public.
In total there are about 20 themes and 130 works.
Navarro said the nude selection will probably draw the most controversy as the works have been chosen to emphasize the “validation of violence against women” at the time.
Works depict naked slaves, models crying because they do not want to pose and two paintings by Pedro Saenz Saenz of nude prepubescent girls, in a sexualized scene that did not attract any controversy at the time.
As well as painting and sculpture the exhibition also features embroidery and cinema works, including several by Alice Guy, a pioneer of cinema, who has been forgotten by history despite creating more than 1,000 movies.
The exhibition ends with The Consequences of Feminism, a silent film in which Guy recreated a fictional society in which men are responsible for the household chores and women work and go out to socialize.
Many art galleries around the world, including the Prado, have been criticized for the lack of women in their collections.
Falomir emphasized the Madrid museum’s commitment to making women more visible in its programming.
“No other European museum has done the work of this exhibition,” he added.
It has been criticized by some contemporary art critics for its premise and title.
Falomir said the objective is to invite a critical review of the history of the museum’s collection.
“We are heirs to a way of looking at things and it is the museum’s obligation to review this canon,” he added. EFE-EPA