“From what we know, the earliest form of true writing was that invented in Mesopotamia in the late fourth millennium BC. Closely followed by Egypt, not long after. It’s probably only a matter of a couple of hundred years, if that. But Mesopotamia seems to have it by a nose.”
Mesopotamia, the fertile land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, was home to some of the world’s first cities. Beginning around 3400 BC, people came together in this region to build elaborately decorated buildings, form complex trade relationships, create great works of art and literature, and develop new scientific knowledge. Central to these many advancements was written language, which emerged earlier in Mesopotamia than anywhere else in the world. An exhibition at the Getty Villa, composed largely of objects on loan from the Louvre, explores the history of these first urban societies through their art and writings.
In this episode, Timothy Potts, Maria Hummer-Tuttle and Robert Tuttle Director of the Getty Museum and curator of the Villa exhibition Mesopotamia: Civilization Begins, discusses the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia.
“They were rather shocked that we were interested specifically in restoring art by women. And I remember one specific curator said, ‘Well, if you would just open your base to men as well, we would have a lot of worthy things for you to restore.'”
Where are the women artists in museums? The non-profit organization Advancing Women Artists was inspired by this simple, powerful question. Though artists like Artemisia Gentileschi and Plautilla Nelli were prolific and successful in their lifetimes, their works often languished in storage or were left in states of disrepair in Florence’s museums. Yet when Linda Falcone, director of Advancing Women Artists (AWA), began approaching these museums around 2008 looking for art by women to restore and conserve, many told her they would have some incredible candidates if only she would open up her criteria to include art by men. However, AWA maintained its exclusive focus on women, and in the years since, the importance of showcasing and preserving art by women has become widely understood in Florence and around the world.
In this episode, Linda Falcone discusses the history of AWA and shares the stories of some of the groundbreaking women who worked from the 17th to the 20th centuries and whose art can be found in Florentine collections today.