Sunday July 16 to Friday July 21, 2017
“Know thyself,” proclaimed the inscription at Apollo’s temple at Delphi. More than two millennia later, the command is no less urgent, and no less fascinating to decipher. What does it mean to know? What can we know – about ourselves, others, our world, and the cosmos? Is true knowledge ever in our grasp, or are we destined to always peer through a glass darkly? These questions and others will anchor our week of inquiry, discussion, and friendship at Toronto Pursuits. To help answer them we’ll turn to everyone from Plato to Rembrandt to Virginia Woolf to Spike Jonze. See you in Toronto!
Make Room for Women Artists
In “A Room of One’s Own,” Virginia Woolf’s 1929 lecture, she argues that in order to produce exceptional writing, one requires space, in the broadest sense. For a painter or sculptor who is not fortunate enough to be a man, however, the need for a work space is but a minor challenge among the educational and social barriers to artistic achievement.
“Why have there been no great women artists?” a colleague asked art historian Linda Nochlin. He felt confident in asking because, after all, Janson’s three-inch-thick 1961 The History of Art had cited not a single woman artist. Responding to the rankling question in Artnewsmagazine in 1971, Nochlin wrote, “In fact, there are no women equivalents for Michelangelo or Rembrandt, Delacroix or Cezanne, Picasso or Matisse, or even, in very recent times, for de Kooning or Warhol, any more than there are Black-American equivalents for the same… the fault lies not in our stars, our hormones, or our empty internal spaces, but in our institutions and our education – education understood to include everything that happens to us from the moment we enter this world of meaningful symbols, signs and signals.”
We’ll read Woolf’s and Nochlin’s works, including Nochlin’s follow-up essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? Thirty Years After.” Why indeed? What is greatness? What is genius? Among the many issues we’ll discuss is the relevance of these concepts at a time when the very basis of the stacked deck is shifting.
LEADER Betty Ann Jordan is the founder of Art InSite cultural tours and an arts commentator living in Toronto. The “problem” of women’s under-representation in the arts has come forcibly to her attention and she is keen to highlight the possibilities for change. Also she wonders if the canonical list of great works of art and literature is due for a refresh?
BOOKS Participants are required to obtain the specified edition in order to facilitate the group’s ability to find and cite portions of the text during discussion.
Women Artists: The Linda Nochlin Reader, by Linda Nochlin (Thames & Hudson, 2015) ISBN 978-0-500-23929-2
A Room of One’s Own and Three Guineas (Penguin Classics, 2011)