Agnes Tait – Skating in Central Park (1934)

A year ago I was sharing with you Hendrick Avercamp’s Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters, an early-17th century outdoors scene depicting the dwellers of a Dutch community having fun and making the most of the cold weather. This year, however, we’re going to 20th century New York. American painter Agnes Tait would probably be completely…

Alice Neel – The Spanish Family (1943)

“Every person is a new universe unique with its own laws emphasizing some belief or phase of life immersed in time and rapidly passing by,” American artist Alice Neel said in her autobiography. Looking at her career spanning over six decades and consisting of hundreds of portraits of people from all walks of life –…

Joan Semmel – Intimacy/Autonomy (1974)

If to empathize means to put yourself in someone else’s place, then Joan Semmel’s self-portraits offer us an exercise in empathy. Four decades before selfies became a thing, this American artist was resorting to photography to document her body and sexuality, an approach that offered her a unique vantage point, further explored through painting. One…

Gabriele Münter – Boating (1910)

Ahh, the quintessential love story: Girl meets boy. Boy is married to his cousin. Girl wants boy to divorce and marry her. Boy doesn’t. Wait, wait, wait. Let’s rewind. Gabriele Münter met Wassily Kandinsky in 1902. Back then, she was this driven 25 year old art student, financially independent, having just inherited a large amount…

Suzanne Valadon – Family Portrait (1912)

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”, is how Leo Tolstoy starts his 1878 novel Anna Karenina about a married Russian countess who is shunned by society after she falls in love with another man. In his masterpiece, Tolstoy poignantly shows the hypocrisy and discrepancy between how unfaithful…

Artemisia Gentileschi – Jael and Sisera (c. 1620)

The sight of a female painter in 17th century Italy must have been an absolute rarity, but Artemisia Gentileschi was lucky enough to be taught to paint in her father’s workshop. It was there where she also met Agostino Tassi, another artist that her father, Orazio Gentileschi, had hired to tutor her. One day Tassi…