2007 | 61 | 1(276) | 112-120
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An Old Female Artist Paints

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Only recently has old age become the object of reflections pursued in assorted domains of science. 'Pózna twórczosc wielkich artystów' (The Late Works of Great Artists), a book by Mieczyslaw Wallis published more than thirty years ago and devoted predominantly to aged artists - albeit not exclusively, since the very term 'late works' does not have to denote creativity dating from an artist's old age, makes no mention of female artists.For centuries women tended to die earlier than men, but this was not the essential reason for the omission. The explanation should be sought in the category of womanhood obligatory in our culture. Only a woman capable of fulfilling maternal functions was regarded as noteworthy. An old woman who had already completed all her duties towards the family and society, became a matron and was accepted only in this guise. Apparently, the combined status of a matron and an artist was excluded. Those two social constructions could not be mixed, and female artists were refused the right to have a family; for all practical purposes old female artists did not exist. Nevertheless, there always remained the sort of a woman who violated the imposed rules of conduct, and frequently she was an artist. Already in her youth Olga Boznanska rejected the demands of the patriarchal world and did not accept the functions deemed fitting for a woman by totally devoting herself to art. By refuting all subjugation to conventions, in time she drew attention to something which usually remains invisible, i.e. otherness attained by age itself. As an older woman she fascinated the visitors who appeared in her rather unkempt studio. Physical relations, understood as contact with objects and people, remained extremely important due to the very fact that she was a painter, and with age they grew even more intense. She needed them in the same manner as the one described by Proust, succumbing to the tide of life delineated by old age.
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  • J. Sosnowska, Instytut Sztuki PAN, ul. Dluga 26/28, 00-950 Warszawa, Pioland
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