There was a discussion on the late Elizabeth Murray at Edward Winckleman which began here and continued here. It touched on some recent debates on still life I had here in PDX.
Some said they do not like Murray’s work. What interested me most was the ensuing squirmish over cups and saucers. Some felt she was claiming the domestic and this made them, for a variety of reasons, uncomfortable. But I was wondering just what is the big deal about a cup? It sure was fucking good enough for Cezanne. The Winckleman conversations cover this.
This then reminded me of certain criticism over still life here. One PDX female artist got a slash-and-burn review from the major paper in this town. - And it turned out the feeling was not necessarily generational or establishment vs. new guard, because a younger blogger joined the critic and actually went on record, saying it was a good thing to slash and burn the work.
Yet the same major paper consistently loves another still life painter in this town, a man. So I decided to not only compare the reviews, but also the work itself. I was curious because my own views were not all that different. Why was it so easy for me to dismiss one and yet hold the other in such high regard?
Both painters laid things out on tables and painted them, and they were often the same things: letters, flowers, cups – stuff. Put as much or as little meaning into them as you want to. It was my pal who told me that we might be trained to think of the guys as sensitive geniuses when they take on the cup. But when a woman does it, she’s a Sunday painter emptying out her pantry.
So then I started really looking at the painting. And what I found sort of shocked me – because I had for years been on the he’s-a-sensitive-genius bandwagon and was probably apt to dismiss her. The more I actually looked at the painting, the more I could see that she was just as good a painter as the sensitive genius. But you know, reading all those reviews over the years about how great he is and how awful she is – well, it doesn’t help.