A cover girl

Sasha Starodubtseva, October 24, 2013

We’ve been realizing Plato’s ideal for a long time. It took women many years to get out of gynaeceum, unveil their potential, get a degree and take up the job they like. It is going to take even more time for everyone to take it as a matter of course. But a woman can already become a  Whore of Babylon just because she likes it.

Women started their artistic as models, continued it as assistants and apprenticed and ended up being successful painters. Why has it been a success?

Firstly, a woman is a whore. That is to say, she can put an idea into herself, study it and form an opinion about it.

Secondly, she is able to bear the idea she likes: leave it, develop and bring it forth.

Thirdly, a woman takes every worthy idea as the one, and she gives in to it.

Fourthly, a woman is an actress and a liar. If she is beautiful, she knows hundreds of ways to accentuate it, and if she’s ugly—she knows how to hide it. A woman chooses a different look every day, she can get used to anything and plays till the end. She feels, she tries, she believes. She is able to see all the subtle nuances.

Finally, there are no daltonians among them.

Of course, these are all vile stereotypes. Like a syrup which has different concentration in every of us. But these are the abilities that make a goddess of a woman and let her create.


When it became obvious
The triumph of women has been displayed at the covers of American magazines since the beginning of the 20th century. The world has been slowly turning into advertizing and American lifestyle with pretty women as an essential part of it has become one of the best-sellers. It’s the cradle of glamour époque with its ideals, and no one but a woman can paint this ideal in color. 

At this time great Edward Penfield was organizing a revolution in art. He sets it on the track of higher sales level. The format of the magazines was changed, and that was what we call the “Golden Age of American Illustration”. Here are some principles: 

1. An illustration is drawn in proportion to the page size in order not to botch up.

2. Lines should be simple and clear, images should be large

3. They should use the colors which remain when being printed (as soon as the printing technology at that period was not too good)

4. The pictures should be bright, large and clear, so that even a blind person could see them

The revolution in culture enabled the women draw pictured of women and thus make money and become popular. Edward Penfield’s revolutionary ideas in illustration created hundreds of well-drawn covers and illustrations for Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazar, etc. The limits in art have turned into possibilities to express oneself, and even now we are inspired by the images created by women artists of that period.


The name, I want to know the name!
Helen Dreiden is the first illustration goddess to be mentioned. She succeeded in drawing paper dolls and creating clothes for them so that she got a 20 years contract with Vogue. All the covers made by Helen were dainty and up-to-date. They say, Helen used to comment on the pictures, thus defining tendencies in fashion.


Ann Harriett Fish mostly made illustrations for books, but Vogue and Tatler got some of her works. She could portray motion with a few strokes in primitive colors.


Jesse Gillespie is a queen of silhouettes. You just look up at the women drawn by her and keep on dieting.


Emily Shaw made ironic pictures of the girls of that period. No duckfaces, turkey cocks only.


At last, there was Sarah Stilwell S.Weber, known as “SSS”, who transformed her true to life drawing style into the new mould. Her works are objects taken out of context. It’s up to you to make up the background.


No more moral
This is a brief review of women’s contribution to the 20th century art. They inflated our minds with weightless images which changed us considerably. Every time when you watch “Sex and the City” you remember the ladies wearing puffy skirts who are fooling about but sometimes you take them off. That’s how advertizing works.

And remember Montesquieu’s phrase:
“The women develop your style and corrupt your moral”