Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday Inspiration: Prudence Heward

Prudence Heward, Young Girls, 1945, (source)
Prudence Heward, At the Theater, 1928, (source)
Prudence Heward, Girl in Yellow Sweater, 1936, (source

Prudence Heward was a member of the Beaver Hall Group, a group of modernist Canadian painters ion the 1930's. It was really uncommon for women to be considered professional artists those many (short!) years ago, regardless of their skill, or training, most women who made art (painting, pottery, sculpture) were termed 'hobbyists', while men (also regardless of education or talent) were deemed professional. The Beaver Hall group were one of the first that actually included women. What I mean by that is that women were exhibited in galleries right alongside the men of the group as their peers.

It's not as though women weren't artists back then- they still painted- it just took the exceptional one to be considered a peer of the men- Prudence Heward was exceptional- and was asked to exhibit with the Group of Seven. The thing that is so unfair about this to me is that, seemingly, if you were a man- all you had to do is pick up a brush, you might stink, but no one would call you a hobbyist. It's somewhat hard to fathom that as recent as the 1930's  this was the case, there are still women alive who were born when 'good girls' just didn't do that sort of thing- mind boggling.

Anyhow- back the actual art...I love these images- I love the expression on the women- which is almost always somber, self reflecting. I love the luminous quality of their skin, the way the whole thing just seems to radiate inner light. The way that the edges are clean and sharp- but the painting is still so 'painterly'. I also love how they are like a time capsule of their period, there is no way that those images could be deemed timeless, and I think that's a good thing, they are most certainly 'of their period' (funny that last week I talked about how Brancusi's work was so good- because it was not 'of it's period', and now Heward's work is so good because it is. No accounting for taste right?).

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