AN ARTIST WHO LIVED CENTURIES AGO AND A YOUNG SCIENTIST OF OUR TIME. TWO TALENTED WOMEN WHO TOOK CENTER STAGE IN A WORLD THAT IS UNFORTUNATELY STILL VERY AFFECTED BY THE GENDER GAP; AND SOFONISBA, THE FIRST FEMALE PAINTER TO GAIN INTERNATIONAL FAME AND TO OPEN THE WAY FOR OTHER WOMEN.
They are more than 500 years apart on the time line, yet they have a lot in common. Sofonisba Anguissola and Katie Bouman are, one has been, the other still is, two great female minds working in industries dominated by the opposite sex. The former a painter, the latter a scientist. Both sit at the table of those who have left a mark in history, alongside Artemisia Gentileschi, Marie Curie, Frida Khalo, Margaret Hamilton and many others, but for too long of that very tableful only the male portion, the most numerous one, has been mostly praised.
Despite this, Sofonisba was esteemed by many fellow men painters of the time, including Michelangelo, Caravaggio and Antoon van Dyck. Having lived for almost a century, amid family tragedies and successes at the court of great kings, Sofonisba has been recognized as having a typically female sensibility, to which no one was used those years. She was even included in the long list, consisting mainly of men, of “Le Vite” by Giorgio Vasari. In fact, during the time Sofonisba lived, there were only 40 female artists registered. And, amazing coincidence, 40 are the women who together with Katie took part in the “Event Horizon Telescope” project thanks to which the world has been able to see the first picture of a black hole. Katie had a fundamental role in a huge team: it was in fact also thanks to her algorithms if this historical event has happened. Her amazed and smiley expression while looking at the orange donut went viral and even became the emblem of the mission. Being a woman in a discipline too often associated with a man, Bouman is doing what Sofonisba has done in her time.
Of course there is still a lot of work to be done, according to a study by the Art Market 2019 works of art made by female artists are bought at auctions for much lower figures than those made by male artists and again, a recent survey on the major collections US museums found that among the 10,000 artists represented, 87% are men. But there is also good news: at the 58th edition of the Venice Biennale for the first time more women than men have been called to exhibit, making them the absolute protagonists. Also from this May at NASA women are leading 3 out of 4 divisions … and that never happened before.
Testo di Edvige Valdameri