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Research: Examining the exclusion of Women from art historical documentation

Since antiquity, women artists have been creating alongside their male counterparts. Many of these women were highly successful during their lifetimes, yet have been omitted from art historical documentation. For instance, before 1986, all editions of H.W. Janson's History of Art (the standard text used in introductory college art history classes) included 3,000 male and no female artists. In the latest version, published in 1991, only 19 women are represented. And the few women who's names we recognize are exoticized as exceptions - a unique status which can be used as a weapon to undermine her achievement. Historical documentation provides only a glimpse of their notoriety as exotic figures in the art world rather than as accomplished artists who deserve recognition. Too often, these women are remembered for the scandals of their lives instead of the body of work they created, a bizarre but all too common transformation of the women artist from a producer in her own right into a subject for representation.

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