Mary Cassatt: Painting the Modern Woman


Part of Culture Vulture film series

Mary Cassatt: Painting the Modern Woman

Mary Cassatt made a career painting the lives of the women around her. Her radical images showed them as intellectual, curious and engaging. This was a major shift in the way women appeared in art.

Directed by Ali Ray (
Frida Kahlo) and featuring the world’s most eminent Cassatt curators and scholars (all women), this new feature film MARY CASSATT: PAINTING THE MODERN WOMAN reveals how this classically trained American artist came to join a group of Parisian radicals – the Impressionists – a movement that transformed the history of art.

Mary Cassatt, born in Pennsylvania in 1844, lived much of her adult life in France, to the extent that she became not an American artist but a French artist. In 1868, her painting 
A Mandolin Player became her first work to be accepted by the Paris Salon, the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts. Edgar Degas saw Cassatt’s work at the Salon and, in 1877, he asked her to exhibit with a new group called the Impressionists.

Cassatt’s connection to the Impressionists, however, is only a tiny part of her story. Presenting her astonishing prints, pastels, and paintings, the film introduces us to this surprising, compelling, yet often-overlooked artist, whose own career was as full of contradictions as the women she painted.

· She printed, sketched, and painted dozens of images of mothers and children yet she never married or had children herself.

· She revealed the tragedy and beauty of women's lives in the 19th century, giving voice and dignity to the overlooked domestic sphere.

· She was a classically trained artist but chose to join the Impressionists.

MARY CASSATT: PAINTING THE MODERN WOMAN follows the progression of Cassatt’s work, her meticulous study of the Old Masters and traditional techniques while also exposing her frustration at not finding a style that truly expressed her desire to be modern until she discovered the Impressionists.

This film tells a riveting tale of great social and cultural change at a time when women were fighting for their rights and the language of art was being completely rewritten.

Mary Cassatt and her modern women were at the heart of it all.
Not Rated
Culture Vulture, Women and Film, Documentary, Art & Artists, Gallery
Ali Ray
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