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Rebels, not muses The women artists of European modernism

Marie Laurencin Two women with musical instrument 1935, Art Gallery of New South Wales © Estate of Marie Laurencin/ADAGP. Copyright Agency

Marie Laurencin Two women with musical instrument 1935, Art Gallery of New South Wales © Estate of Marie Laurencin/ADAGP. Copyright Agency

The story of modern art as conventionally told inevitably runs from Claude Monet and Paul Cézanne through to Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, Marcel Duchamp and Salvador Dalí. Over four weeks, Rosamund Bartlett, will paint a new picture of avant-garde experimentation before and after World War One by showcasing the lives and careers of the many unsung female artists who also contributed to the European Modernist movement. They include Berthe Morisot, Hilma af Klint, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Helen Saunders, Sonia Delaunay and Sophie Taeuber-Arp.

Rosamund Bartlett is a cultural historian with a background in Russia and Eastern Europe whose current interests focus on modernism, opera and the intersection between politics, history and the arts. She has lectured widely at galleries in the UK, including the V&A and the Ashmolean, written for both The Burlington Magazine and Apollo, and in 2020 contributed an article to the catalogue of Tate Britain’s Aubrey Beardsley exhibition.

Rebels, not muses The women artists of European modernism

Thursdays 2–23 February 2023

Art Gallery of New South Wales

South Building

Lower level 3, Domain Theatre

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Series subscription
$150 non-member
$110 member

Per lecture
$40 non-member
$30 member

Bookings and enquiries: 02 9225 1878


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  • Seekers of new forms

    During the early years of the 20th century, the European avant-garde embarked on a period of relentless experimentation which resulted in dramatic changes to the very language of art. Discussion in this lecture will branch out from Paris to the countries of Northern Europe to look at how artists such as Hilma af Klint, Helene Schierfbeck, Marianne Werefkin and Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh contributed to the ferment of symbolist, art nouveau, expressionist and cubist ideas that would lead ineluctably to abstraction.

    Thursday 9 February 2023 10.30–11.30am

  • Revolutionaries

    By 1910, women artists had grown in stature. Pursuing careers that often crossed European borders, they numbered among the boldest members of the avant-garde, sometimes with radical political ideas to match. This lecture will discuss the explosive work and unconventional lives of leading female talents who were engaged in an intense and uncompromising dialogue about the nature of art and creativity at the end of the Belle Époque. They include Käthe Kollwitz, Natalia Goncharova, Helen Saunders and Marie Laurencin.

    Thursday 16 February 2023 10.30–11.30am

  • Modern eclectics

    This final lecture explores the signal contribution of female creative talent to the dada, art deco, Bauhaus and Futurist movements in the dynamic and turbulent years following the First World War. Embracing a diverse range of styles in an international era bristling with new media and technology, artists like Sonia Delaunay, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Marianne Brandt and Benedetta Cappa expressed their own particular spirit of modernity in vibrant, exhilarating work which looks quietly and confidently to a future of gender equality.

    Thursday 23 February 2023 10.30–11.30am