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Lecture 011 - New Approaches to Issues of Feminism and Authorship.docx

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Western University
Women's Studies
Women's Studies 2158A/B
Sonia Halpern

Lecture 011 – Everything Old is New Again: New Approaches to Issues of Feminism & Authorship November 27, 2012 Outline I – Introduction II – Historical Works by Men & Contemporary Female Responses III – Conclusion - Pair the images of women with the images by men in history - One of the reasons we’re doing this is because we have reached the 1970s; the 1970s witnessed the establishment of the feminist movement in the arts - The art movement really became a microcosm of the larger world; all of the problems women were facing in the larger world like sexism, unequal pay, etc. – all these existed in the art world, too o Movement in the art world that tried to challenge all of these inequalities – post- modernism - Post-Modernism was a movement in the art world that basically said this: that we want to challenge the fact that there has been a monolithic way of doing art and looking at art; we want to challenge the monolithic way of doing art and looking at art - Post-Modernism recognized that in the history of art, there was really only one type of artist and art that got recognized as high status; white male artists were the only artists that tended to get recognition – oil on canvas, marble and bronze sculptures o Post-Modernism decided to challenge this one way of seeing the world and embracing the idea of diversity - Post-Modernism embraced all people, minority groups, and certainly embraced women o Want to challenge that one way art has been defined - What many feminist female artists did was challenge the old way of doing art and challenges the old definition of how we defined an artist o Did this by referencing a work from the past and putting a feminist spin on it Achetez des pommes (Anonymous, ) th - Anonymous postcard, 19 c. French postcard - Holding apples right at breast level; like seeing her breasts just as another round object to buy and consume Achetez des Bananes (Nochlin, 1972) - Prominent art historian - Don’t typically see this expression connected to men Great example of feminist response, 1970s contemporary feminist response to a work done in history - Point of this was to emphasize the absurdity of how women have been represented - Fact that because we’re used so to seeing represented in this way, we don’t notice it – drives point home when applied to men Venus of Willendorf (15000 BC) - Pre-historic times - Female fertility figure - Common image of a fertility goddess; made to be held in the palm of a woman’s hand, a kind of good luck charm - Hope was that if a woman held this figure, she herself would become pregnant - Know that it’s a fertility figure because all of those of this time period put emphasis on areas of the body dealing with reproduction – big hips, genital area, breasts - Paint would have emphasized even more the body parts - No face so that you can project your face onto the figure; not one woman, but every woman - Fertility figures by their nature idealize notions of motherhood, reproduction, that all women want to have children and were meant to, that it’s a natural part of a woman’s evolution, etc. - Fertility images are really suggesting that reproduction is natural for the female body Pregnant Woman (Alice Neel, 1970) - Did a series of images of pregnant women - Miserable; eyes not focused or responsive - Undernourished, looks very uncomfortable - Body is sort of contorted and twisted like she’s trying to find the right position - Image of a man in the back, like he’s being implicated in the work, he’s the cause of it all - Felt that urban women had so many other things to pursue, pregnancy got in the way - Neel responding to the images of art in terms of pregnancy, that it’s idealized, natural, wonderful, and for all women; presenting an image to challenge this, uncomfortable, what it does to the body physically and psychologically Margaret Evans Pregnant (Neel, 1978) - Defies conventional depictions; nude and pregnant, not looking like the most idealized pregnant figure - Discomfort in trying to balance self on a chair - Could compare this to the Venus of Willendorf (part C example)—comparing to historical source Self-Portrait (Neel, 1980) - Presenting self as nude woman - Doesn’t have to be young and fertile to be sexual and depicted nude - Other things we can do than just sit still and nude; identifies self as artist, has function to play (doesn’t have to be posing nude or being pregnant) - Nudity not just for young people, and youth shouldn’t be so idealized - Women serve a purpose beyond the age of 40; just because they can’t be pregnant after, doesn’t mean she’s useless or not looked at The Last Supper (Da Vinci, 14
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