Coral Woodbury (b. 1971) critically reinterprets Western artistic heritage from a feminist perspective, bringing overdue focus and reverence to the long line of women artists who worked without recognition or enduring respect.
Coral’s most recent project Revised Edition focuses on Janson‘s History of Art. First published in 1962, the book quickly became a referential text on art history, for generations shaping the Western canon and understanding of art. Its influence as a survey textbook should however have been called into question as the text did not mention any female artists until 1986. The more recent editions of the book are still heavily male-dominated, failing to recognise the legacy and importance of women artists.
With Revised Edition, Coral inks portraits of women artists over images from the well-known canon. Using material culture which is available to her – either photographs or self-portraits of the women – Coral makes visible those who are obscured from history. She describes herself as a “historian, gazing backward, and as an artist, creating anew” whose works “are a way to heal the injustices and omissions of art history”. Recognising that women were vital contributors to art history and yet excluded from it both in their own and subsequent times, Coral reclaims space for them. Bringing women together across time and place, she re-recasts and re-crafts the story of art.
“What has even been deemed art at all, all of art history was defined and determined by men” explains Coral. As women were for centuries excluded from art institutions and forbidden to perform what was considered essential artistic training, their creative input was often demoted to the areas of art considered as minor as well as domestic decorative crafts. Coral’s inclusion in the Revised Edition of portraits of women artists who were omitted from the realm of High Art, makes a stand against male marginalisation of women’s art.