996899398 MDSB62 Final Exam A. Huang
April 15, 2011
1. In John Berger‟s “Ways of Seeing,” he presents theories that suggest the objectification
of women in traditional Western art. What he looks at is mainly European nude oil paintings
where the subject is almost always a female subject being seen. Auguste Leroux‟s “The Mirror”
is a great example that can be used to demonstrate these theories.
Berger says the presence of men and women are different. In that, the presence of men is created
by what they can offer or do to you and women is made up of what can and cannot be done to
them. Men‟s presence can exist in many forms moral, economic, emotional, etc. however this is
not the same case with women. Women‟s presence is created by how she acts and viewed. We
can clearly see that women and men are treated differently and that there is inequality between
the two sexes in implications in artwork and society. Berger also insists to differentiate between
nakedness and nudity. In being naked is for oneself to be without clothes, nude can be a form of
art but to be seen by others being naked.
Since young, women learn the significance to look at themselves and to be looked at by others.
They are always surveying and being surveyed and from people‟s reactions, she sees a reflection
of herself in another‟s eyes. She is objectified by the audience but also by herself. She is seen as
an object, to feed the male‟s appetite of sexual desire but she also objectifies herself by turning
herself into an object of vision: a sight. Being born into the keeping of men, often enough a
women‟s success is can be defined by how she is regarded by others and especially how men
In European history, majority of art collectors and people who commissioned art and especially
nudes of women were males. Therefore the audience of this art is generally the male spectator.
He is the true protagonist of the artwork as the art piece is aimed toward fulfilling his desires.
You can see in “The Mirror,” the female‟s body is turned toward to the side, slightly away from
the mirror and for the audience to view and appreciate her body. Her nakedness is not expression
of her own feelings but of the male view‟s pleasure.
The mirror in this painting makes it a good example for Berger‟s theory as well. He says that a
scene of a woman looking at herself in a mirror is added into the painting and thus referred to it
as vanity but in truth, it is an excuse for the male spectator to gaze at the women‟s naked body
through the artwork. This refers back to the blame put on the woman in the story of Adam and
Berger continues on in his book that hair represents power and passion and for that reason many
times, female nudes in western art don‟t show hair so that the male protagonist, the spectator will
feel in power and as the overwhelming character in control over the women. Women are thus
shown in a submissive role to the man.
2. Barthes‟ concept of connotation is that there is almost always a connoted meaning in
advertisements as advertisements were purposely put together and images in it are never just its
1 996899398 MDSB62 Final Exam A. Huang
literal meaning. It is usually made up of cultural shared knowledge that gives it meaning in
addition to the denotative meaning of the word or phrase.
Anchorage can help direct and fix meaning in an image to the one that is intended to be implied
and Relay is to present information not provided in image. These are both functions of linguistic
Applying these concepts to Barbara Kruger‟s image, it plays on cultural knowledge and
implications of the terms in the red boxes. The terms are all related to skin but aren‟t suggested
in its complete literal sense.
The image talks about racism, showing the right hand seeming to be pulling a layer of dark-
coloured skin off of one finger suggesting to the term of „Skinned Alive‟ in the image. In
addition, there is the saying that “beauty is skin deep” that is referred to.
3. a. Mulvey‟s would see this as women being the object of spectacle, being looked at through
the camera lens of the men. Their attention is focused