Monday, December 21, 2009

Good news/bad news: Women in the arts

Round up on women in the arts from the folks at the NY Times...

Good news:

Visual arts
Modernist painter Carmen Herrera's work was recently featured in the Times, and The Observer named her collection one of the best of the year. The 94-year-old painter was born in Cuba and immigrated to France and the US, where she's spent the last several decades painting but rarely exhibiting her work.

Five years ago, Herrera got her big break, and her sought-after paintings are now in the permanent collections of MoMA, the Hirshhorn, and Tate Modern.

Joan Schenkar's new biography of Patricia Highsmith, the novelist behind crime thrillers like The Talented Mr. Ripley and Strangers on a Train, is receiving critical praise. Highsmith was a groundbreaking writer, notorious womanizer, and virulent racist. Homosexuality was a theme throughout her work from the 1940s through the 70s, which was a risky endeavor in a Puritanical culture. Schenkar, a playwright, strays from a linear recounting of Highsmith's life and instead draws a vivid portrait of her subject with poetic language and critical details.

Keep an eye out for the upcoming documentary about godmother of punk Patti Smith. PBS is airing Patti Smith: Dream of Life on December 30, Smith's 63rd birthday. It's a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll, and you have two X chromosomes. But Patti smashed the mold and is still performing today. Fierce.

The Times also recently profiled Nancy Meyers, one of the few bankable, prolific female directors in Hollywood. She creates movies about upper-middle class, older white women who are doing just fine, stumble upon Prince Charming nonetheless, and live happily ever after. Women buy the lion's share of movie tickets for themselves and their families (ie the 15-24 year old boys to whom most films are marketed). But Hollywood remains an inhospitable place for women who want to make, view, or act in films that reflect the realities of our lives.

Bad news:

We were sorry to hear Brittany Murphy died yesterday at age 32. Murphy caught our attention in Clueless as the artless teenager Tai and had a promising B-list career ahead of her. The critics will not miss her. But you know what? Eyes to the stage, pilgrim. Maybe she was just warming up. RIP Brittany.

Photo: chrisschuepp via Flickr

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