Hello, I'm Krystal Kenney, a small-town dreamer turned Paris local. I love reading, adventures, and working with my little dog Coco at my side. My goal? To help others own their dreams and live a more creative life. Join me on this journey as we unlock your potential and turn your dreams into a reality. 

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Creative, Podcast

The Hidden Stories of Women in Parisian Art with Renate van Nijen 

Paris is a city renowned for its vibrant artistic heritage but often stories of women who have significantly influenced the art world have gone untold. Renate van Nijen, a Dutch-born artist and author, is on a mission to bring these forgotten figures to light.

Self Portrait – Renate van Nijen

A Journey from Secretary to Artist

Renate’s artistic journey began in the Netherlands, where she naturally gravitated towards painting and drawing from a young age. Despite starting her professional life as a secretary, an invitation to an art festival in Italy marked the turning point in her career. This opportunity not only validated her artistic talent but also set her on the path to becoming a full-time artist.

Delving into Historical Contexts

Renate is not just a painter, she is also a writer. Her latest book focuses on the forgotten women of Paris, who were muses, courtesans, and even prostitutes, yet played pivotal roles in inspiring iconic artworks. These women often had to navigate a male-dominated society with limited rights and recognition. Renate’s narrative weaves through the lives of these women, highlighting their struggles and triumphs.

Renate writes in collaboration with her good friend, Mario, to bring a unique perspective to her book. Together, they explore Paris, delving into its artistic history from 1840 to 1968. Their journey through the city’s lesser-known places offers readers an intimate look at the evolution of art and the critical yet underappreciated role women played during this period.

Susan Valadon – Renate van Nijen

A Dialogue with the Past

The book is structured almost like a dialogue, guiding readers through Paris as Mario and Renate uncover the stories of women who, despite facing significant societal constraints, left their marks on the art world. One poignant story is that of Marie van Goethem, the young girl who posed for Degas’ famous statue “The Little Dancer,” only to face a harsh life thereafter.

Georges Sand – Renate van Nijen 

Honoring Women Through Art

Renate has also created a series of paintings inspired by the women featured in her book, pictured here in this article. These artworks are not realistic portraits but rather symbolic representations that honor the women’s contributions and stories. Through these vibrant and expressive pieces, Renate aims to give these women a voice, urging viewers to acknowledge their existence and significance.

Kiki de Montparnasse (left) and Sarah Bernhardt (right) – Renate van Nijen

The Future of Forgotten Histories

Renate hopes that her book will inspire more exploration into the lives of forgotten women artists. She envisions creating a platform where people can contribute suggestions and help discover more untold stories. Her passion for uncovering hidden histories is evident, and she continues to inspire others through both her writings and her art.

Musidora – Renate van Nijen 

Continuing the Conversation

Renate’s book and paintings are just the beginning of a larger conversation about the role of women in art history. With a focus on inclusivity and recognition, she invites readers and art enthusiasts to join her in celebrating these remarkable women who have shaped the artistic legacy of Paris. The book, set to be released soon, promises to be a compelling read for anyone interested in art history, gender studies, or the vibrant cultural tapestry of Paris. As Renate continues her creative journey, she remains dedicated to shining a light on those who have been overlooked, ensuring their contributions are remembered and celebrated. To connect with her you can check out her website here: https://www.renatevannijen.com/ or follow her on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/renatevannijenart/ or on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RenatevanNijenArt.

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  1. Suzi Clark says:

    An inspiring description of how becoming an artist can change as a lifelong experience as each of us develops a unique creative practice. Our futures are shaped in so many serendipitous ways … a journey to be savoured and enjoyed every step of the way.

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