Women Photographers (10 Weeks)
S 2018


Since the inception of photography nearly 200 years ago, women have played an important role in its development, often pushing boundaries and defying social convention. These great women photographers stood their ground in a man’s world to establish reputations as photojournalists and fine art photographers.  They paved the way for succeeding generations of women who today play major roles in the profession. Our course begins in the 19th century and moves through the 20th to the present.  Some of the artists we will study: Julia Margaret Cameron, Dorothea Lange, Margaret Bourke-White, Daine Arbus, Vivien Maier, Cindy Sherman.

 Our primary focus is to look closely at the photographs themselves—to analyze their formal characteristics (light, composition, line, etc.) as well as subject matter. To ask: Why is this photograph effective?  How does it make us feel?  What does it want us to see?    We also want to understand each artist's place in the history of photography and in the context of her times.  And to ponder:  Are there "woman's' subjects?" Do women photograph women differently than men?  In individual cases, were these women helped or hindered by the man around them?  And, of course, there are the ever-evolving issues on the nature of photography as medium and art. 


Weekly Topics

1. 19th Century Pioneers: Pictorialism/Portraiture: Lady Clementina Hawardon (1822-1865); Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879) 

2.  Modernism/"Straight" photography: Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976); Dorothea Lange (1895-1965)

3.  The City:  Bernice Abbott (1898-1991); Lisette Model (1901-1983); Helen Levitt (1913-2009)

4.   Fine Art/Portraiture: Tina Modotti (1896-1942); Lotte Jacobi (1896-1990); Giselle Freund (1908-2000)

5.   Photojournalism/Surrealism: Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971); Lee Miller (1907-1977) 

6.   The Street: Diane Arbus (1923-1971); Vivian Maier ( 1926-2009) 

7.   Fashion/Celebrity: Lillian Bassman (1917-2012); Annie Leibovitz (b. 1949); Sarah Moon (b. 1941);  Ellen Von Unwerth (b.1954)

8.   Gender/Identity/Using the Self: Claude Cahun (1894-1954); Francesca Woodman (1958-1981); Cindy Sherman (b. 1954) 

9.   American Families:  Tina Barney (b. 1945); Nan Goldin (b. 1953); Carrie May Weems (b.1953); Julie Blackmon (b. 1966) 

10.  World Voices: Mary Ellen Marks (1940-2016); Graciela Iturbide (b. 1942);  Rinike Dijkstra (b. 1959); Gillian Wearing (b. 1963)


Core Book:

Boris Friedewald, Women Photographers: From Julia Margaret Cameron to Cindy Sherman, Prestel, 2014.

Highly Recommended:

Tom Ang, Photography:The Definitive Visual History, Dortling Kindersley, 2014. 

Selected Bibliography  (A more extensive and annotated list will be handed out at the pre-meeting) 

Bright, Susan.  Art Photography Now, Aperture, 2005. 

Cotton, Charlotte, The Photograph as Contemporary Art, Thames & Hudson, 2004. 

Heron, Liz and Williams, Val, eds., Women Writing on Photography from the 1850s to the Present, Duke University Press,1996.

Raymond, Clair, Women Photographers and Feminist Aesthetics, Rutledge, 2017. 

Rosenblum, Naomi, A History of Women Photographers, Abbeville Press, 2010.

Sandler, Martin W., Against the Odds: Women Pioneers in the First Hundred Years of Photography, Rizzoli, 2002. 

The bibliography in Women Photographers functions as an excellent resource for information about the photographers.  All have been written about extensively in books and catalogues and their images are readily available online. There are documentaries about several of the photographers and YouTube videos about many of them.  All members of this course will make Power Point presentations; we will help.