a project by Andrea Geyer. 2012 - ongoing

Elisabeth Du Quesne Van Gogh (1859-1936) was the sister of influential painter Vincent Van Gogh and a friend of collectors Katherine and Dorothea Dreier. She wrote poetry and prose but only ever published a single book in 1910 on her memories of her brother Vincent. She lived the majority of her life in France.

Lucretia Van Horn (1882-1970) was an American painter born in Louisiana but who grew up with family in New York and Washington D.C. after being orphaned at a young age. She enrolled in the Art Students League in 1897 and later the Academie Julian in Paris in 1902. She began her career as a book illustrator and moved to San Antonio, Texas after World War I where she took an active role in the San Antonio Art League. While living in the American southwest, she spent many years visiting Mexico and establishing a friendship with Mexican muralist Diego Rivera whose techniques and revolutionary politics influenced Horn. She began to focus on images of women working outside and worked in a variety of media and taking cues from European modernists, varying her style and approach. She moved to Berkeley, California in 1927 and became a prominent member of the Bay Area art community, exhibiting both in New York and San Francisco. After the death of her daughter in 1932, Van Horn largely stopped pursuing her career. She spent the last 28 years of her life in a ranch in Palo Alto with her colleague Marjorie Eaton.

Dorothy Varian (1895-1985) was an American painter who lived in New York City and studied at the Art Students League along with fellow student and friend, notable artist and illustrator Peggy Bacon.

Remedios Varo (1908–1963) was born María de los Remedios Alicia Rodriga Varo y Uranga in the small town of Angles in Girona, Spain. She completed her studies at the San Fernando Fine Arts Academy in Madrid, where she was introduced to Surrealism through lectures, exhibitions, films, and theater. She considered Surrealism an “expressive resting place within the limits of Cubism, and a way of communicating the incommunicable.” As a result of the Spanish Civil War, Varo fled to Paris and took part in the International Surrealist exhibitions there and in Amsterdam in 1938. She returned to Barcelona, where she was a member of “Logicophobiste,” a collective of artists and writers. Due to the Nazi occupation of France, Varo was arrested when she tried to go back to Paris and became a refugee. She moved to Mexico in 1941, where she met Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and other emigrants. Fascinated with mystical forces of all kinds, from Hermetic traditions (both Western and non-Western) to Catholicism to the interconnections between plants, animals, and mechanical worlds, Varo’s work differed from that of other Surrealists, and though it was not necessarily her intention to address problems of gender inequality, her art and actions challenged the traditional patriarchy in Surrealism and beyond. Her first solo exhibition at the Galería Diana, Mexico City, in 1955 was a great success and lead to her inclusion at the Salón de la Arte de Mujer in 1958. The Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City held a posthumous retrospective exhibition of her work in 1971, and in 2000, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., presented more than fifty of her works.

Paule Vézelay (1892–1984) was born Marjorie Watson-Williams in Bristol. She studied at the Bristol School of Art and continued her studies at the Slade School of Art and then at the London School of Art. In 1921 she had her first London show, gaining recognition as a figurative painter, and she joined the London Group in 1922. She moved to France in 1926 and changed her name to Paule Vézelay. Two years later, she produced her first abstract painting; from then on she worked exclusively in abstraction. In 1934 Vézelay was invited to join the group Abstraction-Création, and she participated in several pioneering exhibitions of non-objective art in France, Italy, and Holland until the war forced her to return to England in 1939. She became president of a British branch of Le Groupe Espace in 1952, and organized an exhibition of painters, sculptors, and architects for the Royal Festival Hall in 1955. Vézelay was the first English abstract artist to have earned an international reputation with shows at the Galérie Jean Boucher and the Galérie Colette Allendi in Paris and at the Gimpel Fils and Lefèvre Galleries in London. In 1968 her work was the subject of a retrospective at the Grosvenor Gallery. The Tate Gallery presented a retrospective in 1983, just a year before her death. Vézelay’s work is represented in museums and public collections, including the British Museum, London, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Kunstmuseum, Basel, and the National Gallery of Australia.

Miss Natalie Vidaud was accepted as the first female member of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences in March 1888 along with Miss Christina Rounds who qualified as the second female member. Throughout their lives both women were actively involved with the institute.

Una Vincenzo, Lady Troubridge (1887-1963) was a British Sculptor and translator. She successfully translated the writings of the French Writer Colette and introduced her to English readers. One of her well-known works is My Mother’s House and Sido. Born as Margot Elena Gertrude Taylor, she was nicknamed Una and raised in London. She studied at the Royal College of Art and after graduating set up a sculpture studio. Although a lesbian she married captain Ernest Troubridge in 1908 for financial support and they had one daughter, Andrea. Being an admirer of the Italian-Russian opera singer Nicola Rossi-Lemeni she followed his career all over the world. Una was an educated woman but was best know for her relationship with Marguerite Radclyffe Hall, author of The Well of Loneliness. Hall was in a relationship with singer Mabel Batten when she met Troubridge. The year after Batten died in 1917, Troubridge and Hall moved in together. In her diary she wrote about the intensity of their relationship: "I could not, having come to know her, imagine life without her" and in an effort to ease the great sense of guilt about Mabel's death the couple became interested in spiritualism. They also raised and showed dachshunds and griffons. In the last nine years of Hall’s life she became obsessed with a Russian nurse named Evgenia Souline, and though unhappy about it, Troubridge tolerated their relationship. She stayed with Hall until she died of bowel cancer in 1943 after-which she had Hall’s suits tailored to fit her and wore them habitually.

Renée Vivien (1877-1909) was an extremely prolific British poet who wrote in the French language. She was born in London as Pauline Mary Turn to wealthy British and American parents. She grew up in Paris and London and upon inheriting her father's fortune at 21, settled permanently in France. To symbolize rebirth, Pauline changed her name to Renée Vivian and lived lavishly. She carried on a well-known affair with American heiress and writer Natalie Clifford Barney, known for her flamboyant lesbian lifestyle. She also cherished her relationship with her closest friend and neighbor Violet Shillito. Shillito appears in Renée’s work through repeated images of violets and the color purple. Vivien came to be known as the "Muse of the Violets" because of her obsession with the flower. Her relationship with Natalie Barney was filled with passion however she found her infidelities too stressful. After breaking-up, Natalie could not accept the separation and made several attempts to get Vivien back but in vain. In 1902 Vivien became involved with Baroness Hélène van Zuylen. The Baroness was married and had two sons but she provided much needed emotional support and stability to Vivien. They often travelled together and continued a discreet affair for a number of years. Vivien even considered herself married to the Baroness. If some scholars are to be believed, Vivien published poetry and prose under the name of Paule Riversdale in collaboration with Zuylen. At that time Vivien was also in a secrete relationship with the wife of a Turkish diplomat Kérimé Turkhan Pasha. One day she received a letter from Kérimé then a mysterious admirer and this led to an intensely passionate correspondence. In 1907 when Zuylen left Vivien for another woman she was shocked and felt betrayed and humiliated. In 1908 Kérimé also ended their affair after moving to Saint Petersburg with her husband. Devastated, Vivien turned to alcohol, drugs and sadomasochistic fantasies. She romanticized death and in 1909 died of lung congestion. Her poetry gained a larger audience with the contemporary rediscovery of the works of the ancient Greek poet Sappho who was also a lesbian.

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (1874–1927) was an artist and poet born in Pomerania, Germany. Freytag studied art in Dachau and lived in several different places across Europe and the United States before settling in New York’s Greenwich Village in 1913. While in New York, Baroness Freytag was known as a pioneer of American Dada, although much of her personal and collaborative work has been overshadowed by the work of her peers. Freytag created sculptural assemblages and readymades, but her primary output was poetry, which was occasionally published in The Little Review. Her style of writing was disjunctive and absurdist, often combining fragments of words to invent new syllabic structures and linguistic meanings. Throughout her life in New York, Freytag had difficulty finding compensation for her work and was often dismissed as being too eccentric or excessive in her personal appearance though she considered it part of her work. Freytag was highly outspoken about sexual and religious freedom and was both commemorated and dismissed for her beliefs. For many years her friend Djuna Barnes attempted to write a biography of Freytag, but the book was never completed. Freytag was a prolific writer and artist; a full book of her poetry was not released, however, until 2011.

Charmion von Wiegand (1896–1983) was an American journalist, abstract painter, and art critic. Von Wiegand was born in Chicago and grew up in Arizona, San Francisco, and Berlin, where she lived for three years as a teenager. When she returned to the United States, she attended Barnard College for a year and then transferred to Columbia University to study journalism, theater, and art history, though she did not complete her bachelor’s degree. She began to paint landscapes and write plays at this time. In 1929 she traveled to Moscow where she became a correspondent for the Universal Service of the Hearst Press. She returned to New York in 1932 and continued her work as an art critic. In spring 1941, she interviewed the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian. They became close friends, and he influenced her to start creating abstract art. She became an associate member of the American Abstract Artists in 1941, exhibiting with them from 1948.

Bessie Onahotema Potter Vonnoh (1872–1955) was a figure sculptor and painter who exhibited work in the 1913 Armory Show. She was known for her depictions of graceful female figures with gently sweeping garments, and became one of the “White Rabbits,” a group of Lorado Taft’s female assistants. She was a long-time member of the Old Lyme Art Colony in Old Lyme, Connecticut and was elected an academician of the National Academy of Design in 1921. Nearly a decade later Vonnoh was also elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Mary Heaton Vorse (1874–1966) was known mainly for her reportage on American labor struggles and strikes, but she also wrote fiction and poetry. She published a total of eighteen books and hundreds of articles for journals including McCall’s, Harper’s Bazaar, Masses, New Masses, and the New Republic, as well as for newspapers and news services. Vorse reported on the 1912 Lawrence textile strike, the 1919 steel strike, the Passaic textile strikes of the 1920s, the sit-down strikes of 1937, as well as on other topics such as child welfare and war. She was a founding member of the Woman’s Peace Party and was a delegate to the International Women’s Peace Congress at the Hague in 1915. In 1966 she received the United Automobile Workers’ Social Justice Award. Josephine Pomeroy Hendrick (1862–1962) was one of the founders of the Cosmopolitan Club in Manhattan. She was born in New York and grew up in the city with broad access to the contemporary literary and artistic culture. In 1911 Hendrick—along with six other women—incorporated the Women’s Cosmopolitan Club, providing a social space for talks, performances, and political organizing.

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