Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Mary Cassatt
Gathering Fruit
Rosenwald Collection
National Gallery of Art

I googled "art" and the second hit was a wikipedia article (and it is always fascinating to me to read definitions of "art"). I was curious as to what the first image might be associated with the term and it was a Mary Cassatt painting. Not this one, but it made me think of Cassatt's prints which I've always been a fan of. Initially I wasn't a fan of much women's art from the late nineteenth century as it was too feminine. As I've gotten older I learned how groundbreaking and crucial not only this subject matter was but that women were freely doing it. I have never done well at discussing the incredible hardships that women have overcome through time (I was discouraged from going into art history because it was female dominated, which is not actually true) but I was once again reminded while watching Michelle Obama speak at the Democratic convention last night. Regardless of your political views, I hope that if you saw her speak, you'd be just as excited and proud as her mother was sitting in the audience, of not only a headstrong, bright, unique, American woman, but also of all th0se who came before and after her. 2008 marks 80 years since women got the right to vote on equal ground with men. I look forward to hearing Hillary Clinton speak tonight.

Sorry about that, back to art. This print is part of a mural that Cassatt was commissioned to do for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 for the Woman's Building. It was to represent the progress of women into the modern age. While it appears to be a simple scene,
"The act of plucking the fruit suggests women's opportunities in the modern world to harvest from the tree of knowledge. This was an important element in depicting the role of modern women, who, in the late nineteenth century, were able to enjoy for the first time many new opportunities for formal education. In sharing the fruit with the baby, the woman symbolically passes knowledge from one generation to another."
Women have also been left out of the history of art for many years, something that is being remedied slowly, but hopefully surely. So yay! to whomever put together that wikipedia article.

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