Trending Artists of the 17th Century

Trending Artists of the 17th Century

One of the many
injustices of creative work is that talent does not
always lead to success. The world of art is by
no means a meritocracy. That’s why you see work
valued for millions that you think you could do yourself. And that’s why plenty of
super talented artists never get the attention
or reward they deserve. But just because you don’t
get your due right now doesn’t mean it’s
never going to come. And just because
you’re famous right now doesn’t mean the rug isn’t
going to get pulled out from under you. I have proof. You may have heard of the
17th century Italian Baroque artist, Artemesia Gentileschi. But if you’d been born
a century earlier, you probably wouldn’t have. If you take a look at the
Google Books Ngram viewer and enter her name,
you can see a graph that charts how often her name
appears in English language books between a set of years. This tool analyzes a database
of over five million books and allows you to
chart the frequency of any set of comma
delimited search strings. If the search term is
found in 40 or more books, then the frequency
is plotted on a graph and the data is normalized
by the number of books published in each year. You can also filter
by language and see that in her home
country of Italy, there is a much better chance
you’d have heard of her a century ago. Now, this tool
certainly has its flaws, including faulty optical
character recognition. But Google claims
it’s relatively reliable from 1800 onward. And we’re going to work
from that assumption, because the holy
grail for any artist is not just selling
art and having shows, but being written about. Exhibitions are up for
only a handful of months in just one location. But a published review
or a mention online or in an actual printed
book can live forever. And since we are all
bound by space and time, the printed and
digitized record is critical to our understanding
of what’s going on today and what has
happened in the past. So when we look at Gentileschi’s
chart in English language books from 1800 on, we can
see relatively few instances of her being mentioned
for a good long time. Gentileschi was firmly in
the grave by this point, but in her day, she’d been a
remarkably well-known painter, when few women were
encouraged or even permitted to become an artist. She was a follower of the mighty
Caravaggio, whom you really shouldn’t chart in comparison,
because it’s depressing. But Caravaggio made large scale
paintings of dramatic moments set in high contrast. Like this one of the
biblical story of Judith beheading Holofernes. Gentileschi painted
this story, too, in a manner some consider more
masterful than Caravaggio. Her composition is
remarkably dynamic. The scene horrifically lifelike. Caravaggio’s Judith is
delicate and unsure. Gentileschi’s is
powerful and determined. Gentileschi’s father,
Erazzio, taught her to paint. He was a respected enough artist
of his time, who also covered the Judith scene, but in
a way I think we can all agree is less exciting. And you know what? You can charge him
alongside Artemesia, because it’s much
less of a downer. Anyway, when he felt he
could teach her no more, he assigned her a tutor,
who ended up raping her. She took the tutor to
court and became embroiled in a prolonged court battle
that made her famous, but not in a good way. She persisted. And eventually became
the first woman to be admitted to the
Academy of Art in Florence. But while she did
relatively well at the time, for centuries after, her work
was often attributed to men, and she was largely left
out of the histories of Italian art of the time. But now, we talk about her. Starting in the 1960s, we see
a sharp rise in her appearance in books, which we can credit
to the feminist critique of art history that began
happening around that time. Historians started
to take another look at the art historical canon,
that elite club of artists who have passed from hopeful
humans tinkering around in their studios to the geniuses
worthy of our adoration. The perfect storm of second
wave feminism, the civil rights movement, and the Chicano
and gay rights movements, provided the
conditions for people to wonder more vocally
why there seemed to be only white male
artists in art history books. Linda Laughlin wrote
an essay in 1971, that you should
really read, which explores the question
why have there been no great women artists. She talks about the assumptions
we make about how art gets made and by whom, saying,
“These assumptions, conscious or unconscious,
link together such unlikely superstars
as Michelangelo and Van Gogh, Raphael, and
Jackson Pollock, under the rubric of great,
an honorific attested to by the number of scholarly
monographs devoted to the artist in question. And the great artist is, of
course, conceived of as one who has genius. Genius, in turn,
is thought of as an atemporal and mysterious
power, somehow embedded in the person of
the great artist”. With this in mind, we’re led
to ask what the conditions were of Gentileschi’s time that
limited her own career, but allowed Caravaggio to rise
to the designation of genius. Laughlin argues that a
dispassionate, impersonal, sociological, and
institutionally oriented approach would reveal the
entire romantic, elitist, individual-glorifying,
and monograph-producing substructure which the
profession of art history is based. And which has only recently been
called into question by a group of younger dissidents. These younger
dissidents resurrected and rediscovered the work
of a number of artists. Flemish still-life
painter Clara Peeters saw a similar resurgence. As did Dutch artist
Judith Leyster, whose name languished
in obscurity for ages, until a painting
attributed to Franz Hals was acquired by
the Louvre in 1893 and found to have her initials. She dipped again
until the 1960s. Art historians of
the 1960s and ’70s brought a number of living
artists into the limelight, as well. Notably the women artists
of abstract expressionism, many of whom were
still making work when people started taking notice. Jackson Pollock’s long-suffering
wife, Lee Krasner, was a gifted artist
long before the two met. In the 1930s, she studied
under famed abstractionist Hans Hoffman, who
supposedly described her work once as, quote,
so good you would not know that it was done by a woman. That was a compliment. Krasner was barely
mentioned at all until Pollock’s death in 1956
gave her a bump in notoriety. But it was in those golden
’70s that her name began to find its place in art
news and art history, leading her to
say in 1973, “It’s too bad that women’s
liberation didn’t occur 30 years earlier in my life.” Under-recognized
black artists began to see increased attention
at this time, as well. The artists you see
graphed here had been making art for some time
without enormous attention, when the trend starts
to move upward. Jacob Lawrence began
his career in the 1930s and did receive attention
for his migration series in the ’40s, but it was in
1960 that his first museum retrospective came. Master collagist Romare
Bearden saw a similar surge of recognition in the
’60s and actively worked to create exhibition
opportunities for others. Photographer and
filmmaker Gordon Parks charts a similar trajectory. Black artists and collectives
played active roles in the social and
political change underway. And throughout
the ’80s and ’90s, we saw a surge in the number
of exhibitions and books focusing on
African-American art. And a growing interest across
fields in both identity politics and the experience
of marginalized groups. But again, it’s
all relative when you bring in a name
like Andy Warhol to put it in perspective. But these shifts are still
meaningful and measurable. And as you can see, if you
look at the trajectories of some artists, fame
doesn’t last forever. Godfrey Kneller, who I’ve
never heard of before today, was a German-born
portrait painter well-known in Europe in the
17th century, who was still super popular in 1800. But his notoriety has
steadily declined. And Artemesia is just
barely eking him out. Of course, much has
changed since our charting stops in 2008. How we can read and
understand the analytics the internet has to offer us
is still largely up in the air. Google Trends is
starting to do this, but it is much
better at showing us which artists has sold at
auction in a given week than it does reflect
major movements. But I’m hopeful that will
change with more time and more sophisticated and
customizable tools. After you take your own deep
dive into the Google Ngram viewer, charting the
great names of your field, I challenge you to
see genius as anything other than an idea we
bestow upon others. Not something they
are or have inside, but something we make of them. Genius emerges as the most
fickle and ephemeral of things. Unfairly and
inconsistently doled out to a shifting cast
of characters. What the Google Ngram
allows us, in a limited way, is a glimpse into our own roles
in the writing and rewriting of histories. What we write about,
what we pay attention to, and what we search for, matters. I’d argue that we’re
writing and rewriting the canon in all of our
fields with everything we do and post and comment upon. What are the conditions of
right now that are making possible our bold-faced names? Who is trending and why? And who is toiling
away in obscurity that future generations
might resurrect? The Great American
Read is a new series on PBS about our most beloved
books and why we love to read. And it leads up to
a nationwide vote on America’s favorite novel. Head to to vote for your
favorite book today. Check the link in the
description for more details. Like our show? Subscribe. Really like our show? Help support what we do
by donating a little bit each month on Patreon. Big thanks to all of
our patrons, especially Indianapolis Homes Realty.

local_offerevent_note September 25, 2019

account_box Matthew Anderson


100 thoughts on “Trending Artists of the 17th Century”

  • A good video however a misleading title. It would be great if you spent little more time on the 17th century artists that you were talking about and had a different video about the trends in the 20th and 21st century. However overall a great video with good information.

  • That idea of "genius" not being earned, but given is very interesting. I think there's certainly a combination of both given and earned. It might take a different time period, or group of people to see it, but just because we don't see it now doesn't mean it's not there. That's an idea that I've never come across before. Thank you for giving that to me!

  • This is by far my favorite channel and I think I am a much smarter and more artistic person because of it 🙂

  • omg I've never heard of this Google books Ngram tool. It sounds super interesting. Thank You for bringing it to my attention :3

  • I'd recommend reading the first few chapters of "Black Swan: The impact of the highly improbable", by Nissam Taleb on this subject. He discusses how recognition and fame are related to randomness, and how we fail to account for the silent evidence. I thought you'd mention at the first glimpse of your blouse, which relates directly to it hahaha

    Anyway, great video! 🙂

  • There is a song as recent as the 70's called Ready and Steady. It charted in the billboard list, but didn't trascend time. Until last year people thought it never existed. But it was found and after hearing it, I can see why it would be famous in their time but forgotten nowadays. 😛

  • In my creative writing class, we had to make a portfolio on a historical figure. My friend did her whole portfolio on Artemisia Gentilschi! It was fascinating.

  • I think we studied Artemisia in high school in italy, with all the other greats… at least I can't see another way for me to know about her 😀

  • Thank you for mentioning that article; it was refreshing and true and made me reconsider a lot of previous assumptions. Also, great video. Just, thank you.

  • I find it really interesting how the arts remembers and constantly reevaluates its past. Other fields don't do these nearly as much or as dramatically.

  • I love Caravaggio's Judith beheading Holofernes, thank you for showing me Artemisia Gentileschi's equally amazing version!

  • The timing of this video’s release is such a gift to me because I am in Florence today and I am actually writing this comment as I am sitting in front of Artemisia’s version ofJudith Slaying Holofernes. If it wasn’t for your video I would have probably walked past this painting on my way to see something more well known. I wonder how many other great works I am disregarding because their artist hasn’t received the “genius” label.

  • Thank you for this video, especially after the abbreviated version at VidCon! It's interesting to see how the canon works in art, because it has so many parallels with and differences from the canon of Western art music. But there still are a number of "trending" composers we've thrown by the wayside. The two main Classical-era (itself a problematic term) composers we listen to are Mozart and Haydn, but Dittersdorf, Salieri, and Krommer (to name a few) were just as popular, if not more, during the same time period. It wasn't until Austro-German nationalism took off in the 1820s and people were trying to canonize Beethoven that the story of the eighteenth century completely changed to justify those contemporary movements. Mozart and Haydn ended up being seen as predecessors to Beethoven, rather than individual composers working in a community of musicians trying to please their own audiences.

  • I enjoyed everything here except the final comment. Genius is what we make of someone? No, I'm afraid not. Genius is not a myth and it's not something you can just bestow on anyone. Having said that, you're right that art history has failed us fundamentally, in ignoring the works of great artists. Art historians try to simplify the field into a simple progression, with a handful of leaders, each with his own school of followers. The reality is much more complex and confusing. It's been 3 years, but I'm still working on my list of top 100 women artists, and I hope to finish it soon and put it online.

  • Yes! Your videos are always on the beat of art historiography and theory! I recently read Griselda Pollock's Vision and Difference and its so refreshing to see a YT video which captures the current art historical paradigm and the conversations in which the discipline is having.

  • Finished my Dissertation in art college here in Ireland in April about the detrimental art historical Canon that has diminished female artists. Really enjoyed this video and of course this channel is a great source of both information and entertainment. Thank you for continuing to create and open conversation about such topics 🙂

  • This channel teaches me so much about how to look at other artists' work and their histories but also how to look at mine. Please never stop making videos. 😍

  • There are so many great female artists in the past and we don't know about them; but the bad thing is that female artists of today are still considered less then the male ones. Our stereotype of artist is man and white (and odd).

  • "Dutch artist Judith Leyster" … always funny to hear that name for me (though my last name is written slightly differently).

  • your content is so incredible. Thank you so much for this fantastic and informative video! I feel so inspired to research and create.

  • I took a course from Linda Nochlin (the art historian) at Vassar a few years after that essay was written. She was a terrific teacher.

  • What about a post apocalyptic future? When all meta narratives are erased, and everything is obscure, what will make the most confusing and interesting relics?

  • I actual wrote my art history essay for university on her earlier this year! I thoughly recommend other students doing the same, she's so much more interesting than a lot of the other master's.

  • I happened to take art history and gender in literature classes at the same time in college – we talked a lot about several of these artists, and it was great to get the historical and modern contexts. It was a long 'aha' moment for me. I loves me some Gentileschi!

  • This makes me Think I should adopt a male alter personality to promote my work, a non de plume but for my art.. Yes it is 2018 and I just said that. Unreal.

  • I wouldn’t call Caravaggio’s Judith “delicate”. Caravaggio’s Judith definitely has a firm grip on that scalp and you can see her muscles pop. But Gentileschi’s is a lot more realistic than most depictions.

  • This really hits home with me. I just got a degree in painting and even nowadays you really feel this same idea about female artists. I think its way better now but there are still some nuances about how people view art (its always that prejudice). I hope that writers will develop a new way to write about artists. Also the idea about genius is so relevant-!! yes its more given than earned!! though of course there is always the earning part haha . As a young artist, I strive to navigate these hard roads in what they call an art career and your video really does clear some air (though I have more and more and more questions) !! Love love your video

  • I really appreciate this video and it got me thinking more about the impact of one’s “private” activity on the internet.

  • @ $1 a Minute Any one of my Painting in 200 years is 100 million each…..Subbed Today & I don't sub much but …You are Worth it. Good Job & Enjoyed

  • exhibitions are online for ~months but reviews last forever. this is similar to the critique made in birdman, no? i mean, examination of the consequences.

  • Servus an alle Vollzeit säufer brauch eure Hilfe eine Abstimmung zu gewinnen
    Zu sagen dass "Letzter Wille 6 Promille" gewinnen soll muss ich glaub ich nicht extra dazu sagen 😂

  • Sometimes an artist is remarkably distinguished by an originality which is forged in exclusion or isolation & then this is read as surprising & refreshing work which becomes a template for fashionable styles. Such individuals are often read as being "before their time" long after it can be of benefit to them.

  • Kneller is probably so massive in the Ngrams compared to Gentileschi since he was a highly prolific portrait painter. Hence biographical works otherwise unrelated to him as a painter would have to mention his name. As far as I am aware there are very few or no portraits by Gentileschi.

  • Gentileschi definitely needed more recognition, but she wasn't considered a "genius" not because she was a woman. Caravaggio pioneered the style of chiaroscuro and many artists at the time derived that style from him specifically and that's why people thought of him as a genius. He was innovative and did something new. All Gentileschi did was create an upscaled version of Caravaggio's style, which was already established. If Gentileschi created a fresh new way of creating art that influenced so many people to do the same, then she would have been considered a genius too. Your examples of Van Gogh, Picasso, Pollock, etc were all pioneers of a new style that people looked up to and are influenced to recreate. THAT'S WHY THEY'RE ARTISTIC GENIUSES! Why do we need to make everything a feminist problem! YES, it's important to give more credit to Gentileschi but to consider her a "genius" is like giving first place to the last person in the race just because they're disabled and people felt bad for him. It doesn't account for anything, because she didn't earn that title to begin with! people need to understand that although women's liberation is important, it's too far to say that it's unfair that we don't call Gentileschi an artistic genius! And providing reasons as to "why her career was limited" is so harmful, because we assume that Gentileschi could have been an amazing artist, but we're giving excuses for her as to why she wasn't as great as the others!

  • Your hypothesis of Artemisia Gentileschi (A name you cannot even write correctly) being more famous now due to feminism is LUDICROUS (at best – You just may be lying). In the 60s, the art market began to bloom significantly, and the art dealers did scrape any drawers they could find. So, many minor artists have been "rediscovered", and the price of their forgotten work soared, for the utter pleasure o f the art galleries.
    And yes, Artemisia Gentileschi has been raped. And by these times, that was to be expected. A woman had to be married to be respectable (and that's still the case, in spite of your haircut). A respectable woman could not attend an art school. Decrypting 17th century with nowaday's eyes and feeeeelings is crap.
    There have not been many great women artist because women are superficial. The problem lies with being a woman, not because of society.

  • Artemisia Gentileschi is my favourite artist of all time. Her paintings are more masterfully done than Michaelangelo or Botticelli or DaVinci. Her life was extraordinary and heartbreaking as well as aggravating. Judith beheading Holofernes depicts her as Judith and her rapist as Holofernes. Her painting of Susanna and the elders is the perfect depiction of the commodification of women's bodies. The expression of distress in Susanna's face makes the viewer uncomfortable like as if we are participating in the perversity of the elders. I love her, and may she never be forgotten.

  • You didnt mention maybe the most famous female artist ever Frida Kahlo. It would have been interesting to hear how or even if she goes against the trend.

  • 2:35
    There is no biblical story of Judith beheading anyone. There is even no mention of Judith in the Bible.

  • Love this channel! Although, what's with that low frequency that I'm hearing throughout the video. It's just noise from the 0-90Hz range, and it's really muddying up the mix. I'm not sure if it's coming from the vocal track or the music track, but either way I could EQ this for you and make it sound way better.

  • I do find it a bit odd to be so dismissive of Caravaggio's fame. Genius or zeitgeist, he did start an art movement – Gentileschi was one of the self-appointed 'caravaggistas' that followed in his footsteps, style wise. And yes, they are powerful, even if I think you are right about the Holofernes-painting specifically, to me it looks like Caravaggio's Judith is cutting meat for the old woman: 'You wanted the head right?' 'Yes dearie, and then half a pound from the ass when that's done'. Still, Gentileschi's painting wouldn't exist without the Caravaggio's one.

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