In a personal and intuitive way author Katlijne Van der Stighelen accompanies the reader in search of a feminine imagery. Vrouwenstreken is a female-friendly look at one hundred paintings of women artists, such as Judith Leyster, Else Berg and Charley Toorop, from the southern and northern Low Countries from 1550 to the present. She asks how women artists translate their experiences, their desires and their frustrations in their art. With over one hundred illustrations she shows how creative and idiosyncratic women artists have been and continue to be, while they’ve had to live with male norms (“This work is too good to be by a woman”).
About the author
Katlijne van der Stighelen is professor at the Department of Arts at the Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium. Her publications include books on Anna Maria van Schurman, Anton van Dyck and Cornelis de Vos. Besides seventeenth-century Flemish portrait painting her research focuses mainly on women artists, and on the expression of the self-image of woman as an artist.
Excerpts – translated from Dutch into English by Lorena Kloosterboer
Her [Lorena Kloosterboer] trompe l'oeils hoodwink the viewer in their authenticity, but still her undertaking is overwhelming. Kloosterboer can observe and chronicle like no other and she shows what she sees in a new dimension. The position from which she observes changes again and again. In her delicate painting (Fig. 95) she faces a cabinet full of Japenese Blue. For just a moment her world is one of cups and saucers. She is like a new Alice in Wonderland, who adds significance to a plain weekday. The traditional simplicity of the dishes derive their charm from their existence.
The objects in and of themselves represent much more than what they are. That's what Kloosterboer’s oeuvre is all about. Her palette is always unexpectedly vivacious. With her colors she determines the appearance of things, often using deep blue as the main hue. The way in which she captures reality and infuses colors impels the viewer to look at the art with different eyes. That is the way in which she plays with the existential nature of things and reveals the sublime in the ordinary. The manner in which she arranges the little dress, Sunday Best (Fig. 96), on a coat hanger is just as poignantly engaging. The little dress is laden with nostalgia for times past, and between the folds one can still find the smell of the child who once wore the white lace. With paint Kloosterboer makes memories tangible and visits the past. A banner held by a safety pin, with a pink clasp, shows her signature. Even the smallest details suggest days gone by and the objects trace a path on the bulletin board of our memory.