Sunday, February 26, 2017

Art Scene: 'The Washington Post' dislikes strong women -- and great art

Why Does the Washington Post Hate Women?
Fall 2001

Story by Bonnie James

‘Renaissance Florence was a lousy place to be a lady. If you survived to adolescence as a virgin, you were likely to be betrothed to some powerful stranger twice your age,” observed Blake Gopnik, art critic for the Washington Post, in his October 3 review of [National Gallery of Art exhibit] “Virtue and Beauty.” Mr. Gopnik, who seems to be a member of that strange art-world fraternity of men who hate women, goes on to lavish attention on every superficial aspect of the physical appearance— hairdos, clothing, skin texture, etc.— of the subjects of these Renaissance portraits, almost as if he were vying to become a Fifteenth-century Versace: “With a bit of work by a clever hairdresser, and a bank loan for her pearls, the anonymous beauty . . . could have looked almost this good in life,” he hisses. 

“We could wax lyrical about the humanizing Renaissance eye, and the friendly glance it cast at women, and maybe we still will,” Gopnik avers, but he never actually delivers. Instead we are treated to the view of the Florentine philosopher Marsilio Ficino (the Venetian asset who founded the Florentine Academy to obscure the distinction between Plato and Aristotle), who is quoted as having said: “A woman should be like a chamber pot, hidden away once a man had emptied himself into her.” 

But, perhaps, the Washington Post just doesn’t appreciate Italian Renaissance portraits? Well, then, there was Blake Gopnik’s reaction to the London exhibit of “Rembrandt’s Women,” printed in the Post just a few weeks later, on October 21, and titled “Rembrandt, Facing the Ugly Truth: The Dutch Master’s ‘Women’ Turns a Few Heads in London.” Contrasting Rembrandt’s “ugly” women to the “truly pretty” ones painted by “the best guy artists of Renaissance Florence,” Gopnik proceeds to deconstruct Rembrandt: “If you isolate the paint that Rembrandt goops onto his canvases from the magical effect it works on us, you see a coagulated mess of bits and blobs of fatty emulsion, like mayonnaise gone very wrong, built up on a background of oil smearings.” (Recall that Gopnik is trashing paintings like Rembrandt’s 1634 “Flora,” a loving portrait of the artist’s first wife, Saskia; and the powerful “Susanna and the Elders,” among others.) 

Not only Rembrandt’s sublime paintings, but even his etchings and drawings come under fire: “Rembrandt, often credited as the greatest etcher of all time, tends toward a tangled line, that scratches like steel wool.” Gopnik’s foulest venom is reserved for one of Rembrandt’s most lovingly beautiful drawings: “A quaintly observed scene of two women teaching a toddler to walk is hard to smile at, given the unforgiving inky snarl that it’s rendered with.” 

The Washington Post doesn’t only hate women, it hates art! 

Republished with permission from Read the original article here.

Bonnie James ( is the former managing editor of Executive Intelligence Review and features editor of the New Federalist. An art historian, she specializes in Italian and Northern Renaissance works. Her reviews have been published in EIR, the New Federalist, and Fidelio.

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