PARIS – “Why have there been no great women artists?” asked the slogan T-shirt that opened Maria Grazia Chiuri’s spring 2018 show for Dior. The latest edition of the Dior Lady Art project hopes to consign that question to the history books by tapping a list of exclusively female artists to customize the Lady Dior handbag.
The sentence was the title of a 1971 essay by art historian Linda Nochlin that examined the hurdles that have prevented women in the West from succeeding in the art world. Arguably, many of those obstacles still exist, but as this year’s selection — the first to be curated by Chiuri — shows, women artists have never been more influential.
Take Mickalene Thomas. Known for her paintings, collages and photographic portraits representing African-American women against lush backdrops of patterned fabrics, rhinestones and enamel, Thomas has emerged as a major force on the U.S. arts scene.
The fashion world has taken notice. After photographer Juergen Teller was accused of plagiarizing her aesthetic for a Vogue Paris shoot featuring Rihanna, Harper’s Bazaar, W and T magazine recently commissioned Thomas to shoot editorial spreads, including the cover of W’s art issue featuring Cardi B.
“Controversy and things that are provocative, good