16 unexpected takes on ‘mother and child’

Artists breaking the stereotype on the mother and child genre.

When we consider art’s most famous celebrations of ‘mother and child’, they are undoubtedly caught up in another time. Think Renaissance great, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Madonna Litta (c.1490), which depicts Mary breastfeeding baby Jesus, or Claude Monet’s Madame Monet and Child (1875), a painting of his wife in the idyllic rural setting of Argenteuil. Or perhaps Mary Cassatt’s version, again taking a more everyday tone than one of religiosity.

It is this everyday tone, and a celebration of form, that today sees the traditional genre being rethought through popular culture, such as Margaret Atwood’s novels, #KnowMyName equality advocacy across collections, to IVF and Tinder as vehicles for women to have more empowerment over their bodies and choices.

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Gina Fairley is ArtsHub's National Visual Arts Editor. For a decade she worked as a freelance writer and curator across Southeast Asia and was previously the Regional Contributing Editor for Hong Kong based magazines Asian Art News and World Sculpture News. Prior to writing she worked as an arts manager in America and Australia for 14 years, including the regional gallery, biennale and commercial sectors. She is based in Mittagong, regional NSW. Twitter: @ginafairley Instagram: fairleygina