Female Artists, Female Bodies

I was standing with a female painter friend in the Metropolitan Museum recently, in front of work by Van Gogh, when she said, “There are no rules.” Then, after a beat, she added, “Or he was hallucinating all the time and painted exactly what he saw.” For women, rules define a set of social expectations that are meant to keep them under control. In the arts, purportedly so much more liberal than the rest of society, this problem is acutely magnified, since culture tells us who we are, both literally and imaginatively.

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