Singular Women: Writing the Artist

By Kristen Frederickson; Sarah E. Webb | Go to book overview

ARTEMISIA'S TRIAL BY CINEMA
MARY D. GARRARD

In early May 1998, the film Artemisia opened in theaters across America. Created by the French filmmaker Agnes Merlet and distributed by Miramax Zoë, the picture was based on the life of the Italian baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi, specifically the period of the infamous rape trial of 1612. The relationship of the film to historical reality was problematized at the outset by a claim that originally appeared in the opening frames and in accompanying advertisements: “The true story of the first female painter in art history. ” Given the vast discrepancy between the facts of the trial and their interpretative rearrangement by Merlet, this assertion provoked a strong reaction from the feminist and art communities. 1 The immediate result was that Miramax removed the offending claim from the film and subsequent publicity. The film was sharply criticized on both historical and aesthetic grounds at a symposium on May 14 sponsored by the Richard L. Feigen Gallery in New York, in conjunction with the exhibition of works by Artemisia and Orazio Gentileschi and Agostino Tassi. 2 At the end of May, however, Miramax was still insisting that “a lot of research went into this film…. We stand by it 100 percent. ” 3

There can be no doubt that the basic facts of the story are inverted in the film. In Merlet's narrative, Artemisia begs to study under, and

© Mary D. Garrard. Originally published in Art in America, October 1998. Reprinted courtesy of Brant Publications, Inc.

-21-

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Singular Women: Writing the Artist
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • List of Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction - Histories, Silences, and Stories 1
  • Notes *
  • Artemisia's Trial by Cinema 21
  • Notes *
  • Mary D. Garrard, Interviewed by Kristen Frederickson and Sarah E. Webb 30
  • A Light in the Galaxy - Judith Leyster 36
  • Notes *
  • So What Are You Working On? - Categorizing the Exceptional Woman 48
  • Notes *
  • Mother Land Missed - The Becoming Landscapes of Clementina, Viscountess Hawarden, and Sally Mann 66
  • Notes *
  • A Sermon in Patchwork - New Light on Harriet Powers 81
  • Notes *
  • A Sermon in Patchwork 95
  • Two Ways of Thinking About Mary Cassatt 100
  • Notes *
  • Florine Stettheimer - Becoming Herself 111
  • Notes *
  • Writing About Forgotten Women Artists - The Rediscovery of Jo Nivison Hopper 130
  • Notes *
  • Designing Woman - Writing About Eleanor Raymond 146
  • Notes *
  • Elizabeth Catlett 163
  • Notes *
  • Subjectivity, (Auto)Biography, and the “artist Named Pereira” 179
  • Notes 194
  • Codex Spero - Rethinking the Monograph as a Feminist 200
  • Notes *
  • At Last! a Great Woman Artist - Writing About Carolee Schneemann's Epistolary Practice 213
  • Notes 232
  • Epilogue - Mark Making, Writing, and Erasure 238
  • Notes *
  • Bibliography 251
  • About the Contributors 259
  • Index 263
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