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The Baddest Girls In Art History
Guns, nudity and protest
Uncategorized 05 Jul 2019

Throughout history, women artists have been known for shining a light on feminist issues, provoking the status quo of what it means to be an artist and how women should be portrayed in art. While ladies have historically been expected to sit quietly in the corner looking pretty, there have been some serious women during the last century who have destroyed paintings, protested in front of nude works of art and even shot at Andy Warhol. We’ve got a round-up of some of the fiercest women of art history.
Valerie Solanas
Writer Valeria Solanas first met Andy Warhol in the 1960s, where they collaborated together on a play that she wrote – Up Your Ass – which she believed he either lost or stole. Several years later, she was offered a contract to publish her work, but she felt that the press owner – Maurice Girodias – was conspiring with Warhol to steal her work. Her response was to go and shoot Warhol three times. Not only did Solanas aim the gun at Warhol, but also at art critic Mario Amaya and Warhol’s manager Fred Hughes. None of the men died but Solanas was sentenced to a three-year jail sentence for reckless assault with attempt to harm.
Rindy Sam
In 2007 Rindy Sam was ordered to do 100 hours of community service after she kissed a painting by Cy Twombly. During the trial, Sam claimed that she had committed an act of love, explaining that the artist would have understood why she left a red stain in the shape of her lips on top of his work. The painting’s owner Yvon Lambert asked to receive $2.9 million in damages to cover the value of the painting and its restoration cost, but in the end she only had to cough up a little over $2,000. Nevertheless, this act of love was an expensive one, but Sam did succeed – quite literally – in making a mark on Twombly’s work.
Deborah de Robertis
In 2014 Deborah de Robertis recreated Gustave Courbet’s controversial 1886 painting L’Origine du monde in situ at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. Courbet’s painting focuses in on an unidentifiable woman’s vagina. De Robertis paid homage by exposing her own vagina for all the museum’s visitors to see.
Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa hasn’t done anything really scandalous that we can think of, besides keeping Leonardo waiting before she finally smiled. However, she has provoked a number of bad gals to get their angst out at her in the past. Whilst on display at the Tokyo National Museum in 1974, a handicapped woman spray-painted her in an act of protest at the museum’s lack of access for disabled people. Meanwhile, at the Louvre in 2009, a Russian woman who was upset about having been denied French citizenship threw a mug at the painting – one that she bought at the museum’s gift shop.
Anna Delvey
Most of you would have heard about New York’s “fake heiress” Anna Delvey – real name Sorokin, but did you know she had plans to start her own arts centre and had even eyed up Christo for its inauguration? Despite her grand ambitions, Delvey is a fraud. She tricked the city into thinking she had billions, hiring private jets and staying in luxury hotels (all on her credit cards). Once these cards started getting declined she was found guilty of multiple offences including stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars, and is likely to spend at least a decade in prison.
Mary Richardson
During the early 20th century a group of women in Britain campaigned for votes for women. In 1914, suffragette Mary Richardson attacked Velazquez’s Rokeby Venus at the National Gallery in London, provoked by the arrest of fellow suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst the day before. She really went for it, leaving seven slashes on the painting. She proclaimed that she attempted to destroy the image of the most beautiful women in mythological history in protest of the government destroying the most beautiful character in modern history (Emmeline Pankhurst). Several years later in 1952 she also exclaimed that she did not like the way that men gaped at it all day.
Sarah Goodridge
Sending a nude to your crush these days isn’t so scandalous, but imagine sending one in 1828. Well, that’s exactly what Sarah Goodridge did. The ivory miniature – which is a close up of the artist’s bare breasts – was given to her lover Daniel Webster following the death of his wife in what many call an attempt to prompt him to marry her. Unfortunately, Goodridge’s act was in vain as Webster went on to marry someone else.
Guerrilla Girls
How could we compile a list about art world bad girls without including the Guerrilla Girls? The answer is, we couldn’t. Formed in 1985, the anonymous group of female activists has been shaking up the art world for decades as they protest racism and sexism. In order to remain anonymous, the group use pseudonyms and wear gorilla mask, which also ensures that people focus on the issues they are trying to confront and not on their individual personalities.
Words by Lizzy Vartanian
Images via @loradariamagazine, @anartist97, @deborah.de.robertis, @parisfranceofficial, @reimaginingpolitics, @nassimgoli, @jenniferhiggie, @guerrillagirls

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