Yes, the purchases we make must function suitably, but the respective designs we choose – their colours, textures and shapes – are a reflection of ourselves, the concepts we open our eyes and minds too, and the pleasure we take in broadening our perspective beyond the homogenous.
Like you, we value good design; it’s influence extending from the typography we choose to the tones, materials and finishes on all of our packaging (read more about this here). Extending from this is a growing appreciation of art, both within Chāmpo and the wider society in which we reside – whether it’s via the prints that adorn our walls, the images shared on social media, the artistic direction chosen for our photography, or simply doing it the old fashioned way and visiting a gallery.
Alongside this, there has, quite remarkably (and certainly not too soon), been a disproportionate rise of interest in female artists, both established and emerging, as more of us come to realise the value of these treasures – both culturally and financially. An expert on this topic, we speak with Dr John Paul Rollert, art curator and established scholar at Harvard University and The University of Chicago.
> Are more of us now embracing art as part of increasingly progressive lifestyles, finding art out there for every taste?
Absolutely! For me, one of the best parts of the rise of social media is the opportunity it provides people to share art, both that which they make as well as the works they appreciate and even acquire. We have all looked over the shoulder of someone on a train or at the airport while they flip through pictures and wondered, “Wow, I wish I knew who that artist is”. That sense of wonder has always been with us, but we no longer need to go to a museum to rediscover it. Such pleasure is right in the palms of our hands.
> With the recent emphasis on female equality, empowerment and celebration across the business, music and film worlds, is ‘now’ the ideal time for female representation in art?
No doubt, the art market for women artists has never been hotter, and this is largely due to the fact that women have been too long overlooked (in art as well as in so many other professions). Women have been producing art for as long as there has been art to produce, but so many wonder women artists are finally getting their due, with the effect that contemporary women artists are finally getting the kind of spotlight they have long deserved.
> Is this rising interest led by an overall increasing interest in art, or is it directed more towards political, cultural and environmental representations?
We are in the midst of the democratisation of the art world, a realm (in the West) that has long been a nearly exclusive bastion of men. When you have more artists of all persuasions, and when their art is in the public eye, it shows the broader public that there isn't any one type of person properly disposed to be an artist. That has the effect of not just opening the doors to more artists; it widens the franchise of art lovers, too. Yes, larger social and political currents may bring them to the art, but the quality of the work is what keeps them returning to the gallery.
> Has the interest stemmed from appreciating already established female artists, emerging newer artists, or both?
Both trends are clearly at work. Websites like Artsy have made access to art more user-friendly while introducing the public to a wider array of artists. No longer do we have to make our way to the Tate, MOMA or the Louvre – we can browse untold artwork from the comforts of our homes, finding artists we should have heard of long ago, as well as those making their debut.
> Might the increasing financial independence of (Western) women also impact this trend?
It is no doubt true that women are buying more art today than ever before. They are also helping to shift, renew, and extend the canons of taste. Artists who passed away decades ago, like Anne Ryan and Gertrude Abercrombie, are being rediscovered, while dynamic younger artists, like Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Lina Iris Viktor, are getting the enthusiastic recognition they absolutely deserve.
> The National Gallery, Barbican and Saatchi all recently opened high profile female-led exhibitions, exhibition dominated social media. This shows real promise for female artists… though have smaller, independent galleries long been champions?
To a degree this is true, but, alas, such galleries are not on the radar of most people who are interested in art. Yes, there have always been the boutique galleries who have their devotees, but it is nice to a see major museums devote valuable space to women who deserve a turn in the spotlight.
> Should we focus on female artists, drawing attention to their historical under-representation? Or should we view art in general, equally positioning male and female artists alongside each other?
We can do all of these things. In a recent show I curated for London's Amar Gallery, ‘Hiding in Plain Sight’, we brought together nearly a dozen women from the American Abstract Expressionist Movement, with almost all of the works from the 1950s and '60s. Yes, our aim was to present this rarely told tale from the most important movement in modern American art, but there was also good reason to put these women together as they all knew one another and were often responding to each other's work. No doubt, the value of any art must be the work itself, first and foremost, but once that's established, there are more stories to tell. The work of women as women in the art world is one of them.
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