Frequently, the Doc and I are asked why we have chosen to support women artists. Or, occasionally, “why don’t you support male artists?” To address these questions, a little about our point of view may be helpful.
It is true that The Bennett Prize and The Bennett Collection are focused on female painters and their work. But this is not because either the Doc or I don’t like men artists or their oevre. We do. By deciding to focus our efforts on supporting women, we did not make a parallel decision to disadvantage men.
Since the beginning of history, men have had the field of art (and most of the others that don’t include cooking, cleaning and child rearing) all to themselves. By virtue of the male-centric nature of history, religion, and the arts, it has been the women who have been left out. And, frankly, often left out as a matter of intent. Indeed, is there any notable historical instance before say, 1900, where a group of male painters clamored against the dis-inclusion of women in (fill in the blank) the art school, the atelier, the salon, the prize, the exhibition, the movement, the guild, etc., etc.? And, if you can identify such an instance, it is the grand exception and not the rule.
For us, this historical angle is important. Despite thousands of years of recorded history, the first woman painter to actually put her name on her work did not emerge until the Baroque, ca. 1600 c.e., when Artemisia Gentileschi became the first woman member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence. But, just because Artemisia got to join the club doesn’t mean that women painters suddenly became the owners of equal opportunity with men. No more than discrimination against African-Americans ended when Barack Obama was elected President. Since Artemisia, the intervening 400 years have been one uphill battle after another for women artists.
Think of it this way. Try to name 10 recognizable women who participated in the artistic ferment at the beginning of the 20th century. Having trouble? Of course you are! For example, there are only four relatively known women Cubists (Laurencin, Delaunay, Vorobieff and Clausen) and the great majority of folks has never heard of two of them.
By supporting women, we seek to lend our voices and our efforts to help women painters find the parity that has eluded them historically. In doing so, we do not intend to dishonor or disadvantage anyone. Our efforts are just one small example of private philanthropy trying its best to help alter an objectionable trend of history. We invite you through action and belief to join us. But, if not, we will continue along our chosen path. For us, it’s the right thing to do……
Header Image: by Harmonia Rosales, “The Creation” 2017, oil on canvas, 44” x 60″