February 24, 2014

Women In Art: Hypnotic Video.

Emma Lampert Cooper woman art lady painting portrait face

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”

~ Pablo Picasso

Philip Scott Johnson has cast a strange net in his lovely and original video which blends together images of women from the last 500 years in art.

In it, he captures the soul of these women as seen through an artist’s eyes over the course of centuries. By blending the portraits together with a time elapse technique first debuted, if I’m not mistaken, in Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” video, and using the eyes as a common focal point, he creates a powerful connection between the artist, the subject and the audience.

As I watched Johnson’s work, I felt I knew, just for a moment, each of the women portrayed. All of them are equally compelling and, to me, equally beautiful, though they differ in almost every imaginable way. The spectrum of female beauty is indeed wide; wide enough to include every woman who has ever lived.

This piece is like the antidote to all the photoshopped, barbarically thin Barbie-esque images of women which bombard us on a minute to minute basis.

It is a reminder that there is not one ideal and that every woman can and should be celebrated.

Having said that, I would be remiss if I did not also note the glaring absence of work by female artists like Frieda Kahlo and Mary Cassatt. Philip Scott Johnson could have elevated this piece to an even higher level had he chosen to include not just a variety of female subjects, but the women artists who also paint them.

Nevertheless he has evoked the magic of feminine beauty as it exists in all its forms. For that, I am grateful.

In these disparate faces I see my girlfriends, my sister, my mother, my grandmother, my great great great grandmother, myself; holding hands across time and gazing lovingly into one another’s eyes with the secret wisdom of a woman.

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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