Tag Archives: feminism

Female Gaze Friday: Dana Schutz

Representations of the male figure in art are far less common than works depicting women. A long history of straight men dominating the art world has led to many images of winsome women, but fewer of beautiful men (I’ve written on this subject before; if you’d like to read more about the lack of male figures in art check it out here).

Every Female Gaze Friday I will post a woman-created work of art depicting a man—one small act to reverse the male gaze! Not all images will be provocative, many will be nonsexual or even disturbing. Hopefully this will be a way of learning more about women artists (as well as looking at dudes)!

This week we’ll be looking at paintings by Dana Schutz:

Dana Schutz, Reclining Nude, 2002, oil on canvas, 48"x66"

Dana Schutz, Reclining Nude, 2002, oil on canvas, 48″x66″

Dana Schutz, Frank in the Desert, 2002, oil on canvas, 183x137cm

Dana Schutz, Frank in the Desert, 2002, oil on canvas, 183x137cm

Dana Schutz, Men's Retreat, oil on canvas, 96"x120"

Dana Schutz, Men’s Retreat, oil on canvas, 96″x120″

Dana Schutz, Face Eater, oil on canvas, 18"x23"

Dana Schutz, Face Eater, oil on canvas, 18″x23″

Dana Schutz is a highly influential contemporary figurative painter. She creates interesting characters and situations; for example, the first two images here (Reclining Nude and Frank in the Desert) depict an imaginary character named Frank. In this scenario, Schutz is the last painter in the world and Frank the last subject. He is trapped on a desert island and painted again and again. The Frank From Observation paintings are interesting, in that he is repeatedly reinvented as a wild man, a fantasy for women, or one of any number of unusual professions. Schutz and Frank react to one another. Even though he is imaginary he is full of personality and understands the situation. Frank may rebel and be sunburnt or even killed in retaliation. The artist doesn’t mourn him though; Frank always comes back to life.

Like the Frank series, Schutz’s Self-Eaters are cyclical. They die and are reborn and they constantly consume themselves. Schutz considered this series to have a looser narrative and these works spin off in a number of directions. Schutz’s work thrives with themes of destruction and dismemberment, especially through her use of bright colors and whimsical humor.

See more of Shutz’s work here and read a great interview with the artist here. Check back on Fridays for more images of men by women. And feel free to suggest works of art or artists in the comments!

Take a look at our previous Female Gaze Friday: Paintings by Holly Coulis.

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Female Gaze Friday: Holly Coulis

Representations of the male figure in art are far less common than works depicting women. A long history of straight men dominating the art world has led to many images of winsome women, but fewer of beautiful men (I’ve written on this subject before; if you’d like to read more about the lack of male figures in art check it out here).

Every Female Gaze Friday I will post a woman-created work of art depicting a man—one small act to reverse the male gaze! Not all images will be provocative, many will be nonsexual or even disturbing. Hopefully this will be a way of learning more about women artists (as well as looking at dudes)!

This week we’ll take a look at the paintings of Holly Coulis:

Holly Coulis, Holidays, 2008, oil on canvas, 29"x26"

Holly Coulis, Holidays, 2008, oil on linen, 29″x26″

Holly Coulis, Grouse, 2008, oil on linen, 54"x48"

Holly Coulis, Grouse, 2008, oil on linen, 54″x48″

Holly Coulis, Carnation and Bird, 2013, oil on linen, 40"x32"

Holly Coulis, Carnation and Bird, 2013, oil on linen, 40″x32″

Holly Coulis, Blue Skies, 2008, oil on linen, 36"x30"

Holly Coulis, Blue Skies, 2008, oil on linen, 36″x30″

These paintings are part of Coulis’s Men series. Her images depict an invented cast of average albeit strange men living their lives. Men sit still while birds perch on their shoulders, relax, or enjoy the landscape (sometimes in the nude!) This causes us to create mythologies about who they are.

Because Coulis is a woman, we view her work in the context of a history in which men typically painted women. According to the Cherry and Martin gallery, “As a female artist picturing men, Coulis’ paintings are not political per se; rather they present a shift in the focus from what has come to be an expected relationship.  Coulis uses this investigation to imagine her subject’s inner life, exploring the intersection of masculinity and vulnerability.  In doing so, she engages in a dialogue with such painters as David Hockney, Alice Neel and Sylvia Sleigh, all of whom used portraiture as a way of investigating intimacy, subjecthood and self-identity.”

Coulis’s paintings use bright, bold colors and simple geometric forms. Her work is similar to Alex Katz or David Hockney in depicting still figures and using flattened blocks of color.

See more of Coulis’s work here. Check back on Fridays for more images of men by women. And feel free to suggest works of art or artists in the comments!

Take a look at our previous Female Gaze Friday: Paintings by Nina Chanel Abney.

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Female Gaze Friday: Nina Chanel Abney

Representations of the male figure in art are far less common than works depicting women. A long history of straight men dominating the art world has led to many images of winsome women, but fewer of beautiful men (I’ve written on this subject before; if you’d like to read more about the lack of male figures in art check it out here).

Every Female Gaze Friday I will post a woman-created work of art depicting a man—one small act to reverse the male gaze! Not all images will be provocative, many will be nonsexual or even disturbing. Hopefully this will be a way of learning more about women artists (as well as looking at dudes)!

This week we’ll be looking at the work of painter Nina Chanel Abney:

Nina Chanel Abney, King of Sorrow, 2010, acrylic on canvas

Nina Chanel Abney, King of Sorrow, 2010, acrylic on canvas

Nina Chanel Abney, The Boardroom, acrylic on canvas, diptych, 77"x153.5" (overall)

Nina Chanel Abney, The Boardroom, acrylic on canvas, diptych, 77″x153.5″ (overall)

Nina Chanel Abney, Untitled, 2012, acrylic on canvas

Nina Chanel Abney, Untitled, 2012, acrylic on canvas

Figures in Abney’s paintings are often ambiguous in terms of gender and race. While they at first appear to be male with emphasized mustaches and jock straps that leave little to the imagination, you’ll notice that many have highlighted breasts or other feminine features.

Her works often feature colorful, distorted celebrities in surprising situations (or political figures who are treated as celebrities). Of her subject matter Abney says, “I’m fascinated by how celebrity news has become not more interesting, but more important than politics. I like to infuse that with race issues.” There are strong narratives throughout her paintings, but they’re disjointed. It’s usually difficult to understand what exactly is going on.

Abney’s figurative work is personally very inspiring. The way she creates abstracted stories that make the viewer think harder about what they’re seeing appeals to me, and the themes of gender, race, and celebrity are highly relevant to the world today.

You can take a look at more of Abney’s work here.

Check back on Fridays for more images of men by women. And feel free to suggest works of art or artists in the comments!

Take a look at our previous Female Gaze Friday: Paintings by Meghan Howland.

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Female Gaze Friday: Anya Lsk

Representations of the male figure in art are far less common than works depicting women. A long history of straight men dominating the art world has led to many images of winsome women, but fewer of beautiful men (I’ve written on this subject before; if you’d like to read more about the lack of male figures in art check it out here).

Every Female Gaze Friday I will post a woman-created work of art depicting a man—one small act to reverse the male gaze! Not all images will be provocative, many will be nonsexual or even disturbing. Hopefully this will be a way of learning more about women artists (as well as looking at dudes)!

This week we’ll take a look at collage by Anya Lsk:

Anya Lsk, Untitled, 2013, collage

Anya Lsk, Untitled, 2013, collage

Anya Lsk, Untitled, 2012, collage

Anya Lsk, Untitled, 2012, collage

Russian artist Anya Lsk’s collages beautifully connect the nude male form with other images. Her first piece references Laocoön and His Sons, an ancient Roman marble sculpture that depicts the plight of Trojan priest Laocoön. Poseidon sent sea serpents to strangle the priest and his sons in order to prevent Laocoön from exposing the Trojan horse ruse. This sculpture is a very influential piece. Following its discovery in the Renaissance Italian sculptors artists as renowned as Michelangelo and Titian created works referencing the piece. You can read more about the history of Laocoön and His Sons here.

Laocoön and His Sons, c. 25 BC, marble

Laocoön and His Sons, c. 25 BC, marble

The sculpture was considered a beautiful piece that masterfully portrayed the male figure. Lsk continues this tradition by incorporating Laocoön into a photograph of two partially nude men wrestling. The photograph and the sculpture both display the male form in tense, sensual poses.

You can see more of Anya Lsk’s collages (and photographs) here.

Check back on Fridays for more images of men by women. And feel free to suggest works of art or artists in the comments!

Take a look at our previous Female Gaze Friday: Jen Mann’s Cotton Candy and Sway.

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Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s “Women Are Not Seeking Your Validation”

Women Are Not Seeking Your Validation

Check out this Hyperallergic post on artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s project, Stop Telling Women to Smile. Fazlalizadeh’s posters mimic public PSAs and attempt to educate the public on how it feels to be a woman in a public space. Her project addresses the idea that women’s bodies and behaviors are a public commodity, and the idea that it’s ok for men to tell a woman to smile.

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s “Stop Telling Women to Smile” project

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s “Stop Telling Women to Smile” project

This is Fazlalizadeh’s project after a few days:

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s “Stop Telling Women to Smile” project after a few days

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s “Stop Telling Women to Smile” project after a few days

Part of Fazlalizadeh’s work is exhibiting the reaction she receives to her pieces. It’s interesting but, unfortunately, unsurprising that they range from telling her to “Relax!”, to sharing unsolicited advice “A cocky woman who blows a guy off isn’t that attractive, no matter how good you look”, to just plain old aggression “ARGUE BOUT THIS DICK– STFU! BE4 I RIP IT DOWN”.

Read the Hyperallergic post here and see more responses to Fazlalizadeh’s posters here.

What do you think about Fazlalizadeh’s work? How is the commentary part of the art?

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Women in Art: Shahzia Sikander

Shahzia Sikander is a Pakistani-American artist most well-known for her work with Indo-Persian miniature painting . Sikander creates miniatures in a variety of formats, experimenting with contemporary painting techniques, video, animation, and more.

Shahzia Sikander, SpiNN, 2003, video animation, still shot. Women's hair transform into birds and invade a Mughal court.Shahzia Sikander, SpiNN, 2003, video animation, still shot. Women's hair transform into birds and invade a Mughal court.

Shahzia Sikander, SpiNN, 2003, video animation, still shot. Women’s hair transform into birds and invade a Mughal court.

Sikander’s work brought a resurgence of miniature painting (at the time it was considered old fashioned and too craft-oriented) and lead to its new global status. Sikander breathed new life into miniatures, blending techniques and manipulating cultural imagery to create something new. However, while Sikander is thought of as reinventing miniature painting by many critics, she hesitates to say that. In Sikander’s words, “I think it wasn’t as black and white as that I started adding a kind of a modernist take on it or “reinventing” it, perhaps—which I think is, again, a very strong word.There were people who had been making miniature paintings and there’s a tradition of people making miniatures which are closer to the older themes, but by and large even the work that I have seen of artists before me was thematic. It was not from a personal space. And my interest really was to bring the personal into this space.”

Sikander draws upon multiple miniature styles and is influenced by Mughal, Rajput, Safavid paintings and more. From one tradition she might draw upon Hindu myth, and from another a naturalistic style. Her work cannot be defined by one time period or culture, rather it is composed from many. And to these cultures she adds her own identity. The narratives are related to her life and to living in today’s world.

Shahzia Sikander

Shahzia Sikander

Shahzia Sikander

Shahzia Sikander

Sikander’s work was stylistically similar to the traditional miniature during her time studying at Pakistan’s National College of Arts in Lahore. When she moved to America to obtain her MFA at the Rhode Island School of Design her work moved away from being quite so tight and technical, and her work became looser. She’d frequently create a meticulous piece and then cover it with loose, graffiti-like lines. Continue reading

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In This Case: Highlighting Women Sculptors

In This Case: Highlighting Women Sculptors

My fellow summer intern, Emilie Reed, wrote a great blog post on women sculptors in the American Art Museum’s Luce Center. The Luce Center is an on-site, visible storage facility that contains more than 3000 works from the museum’s permanent collection, quadrupling the number of objects on view! There are a number of incredible women artists in the collection including Louise Nevelson, Bessie Stough Callender, Yuriko Yamaguchi, and more. Click over to learn more about these American women sculptors.

Bessie Stough Callender, Antelope, 1929, black belgian marble, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Bessie Stough Callender, Antelope, 1929, black belgian marble, 16″x12″x24″, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Yuriko Yamaguchi, Reach Out #3, 1989, natural, stained and painted wood, 34"x72.5"x 3", Smithsonian American Art Museum

Yuriko Yamaguchi, Reach Out #3, 1989, natural, stained and painted wood, 34″x72.5″x 3″, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Louise Nevelson, Night Leaf, 1969, plexiglas, 12.75"x12.75"x2.25", Smithsonian American Art Museum

Louise Nevelson, Night Leaf, 1969, plexiglas, 12.75″x12.75″x2.25″, Smithsonian American Art Museum

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Linda Adele Goodine at Chicago’s Gallery 19

Chicago readers should visit Gallery 19’s exhibit The Construction Of featuring feminist artist Linda Adele Goodine, who works with photography, video, and performance art.

Linda Adele Goodine, Wisdom Tooth, 2010, polyflex photographic print

Linda Adele Goodine, Wisdom Tooth, polyflex photographic print

Linda Adele Goodine, Woolf, polyflex photographic print

Linda Adele Goodine, Woolf, polyflex photographic print

Goodine’s photographs in The Construction Of focus on her liberation from the feminine mystique. She spits teeth and wishbones into a pile resting next to an animal carcass, creating an image in which she ferociously rejects the restricting expectations of her gender. You can see the complete set of images from her Winter Tales series here.

Goodine also creates environmental art, focusing on endangered areas in New Zealand and the Florida Everglades. These series are full of beautiful color and highlight the transitions these spaces are undergoing while showing local wildlife.

Take a look at Gallery 19’s website or read a great review of the show (and see Antonio J. Martinez’s contrasting hyper-masculine photography) over at Newcity Art. The Construction Of runs until September 19th and is located at 1967 1/2 W Montrose Ave. Check it out!

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Gender Imbalances in Art Museums

Sorry for the unintended hiatus readers! This quarter has been a busy one (I’ll post some of my paintings as well as a paper shortly). However! I’ve recently entered a long period of free time (Fitting a semester of study abroad into my university’s quarter system is not ideal) and posts should be up on a more frequent basis.

For now, I’d like to suggest reading Museum 2.0’s article on the gender imbalance in art museums. This is an incredible blog and a fascinating subject, so definitely check it out!

Quick summary of the article: women usually make up the majority of art museum staff. Is this a problem?

In my opinion, no. Well, it is a problem, but not for the reasons you may suspect. While there are some who view women-dominated industries to be just as problematic as ones dominated by men, they’re not. For one, there are no systematic barriers in place deterring men from working in women-dominated fields (With the exception of working with young children–which is also a result of patriarchy). A helpful comparison is to think of the field of computer science, which is mainly made up of men. This is due to a number of reasons: women are raised to believe they are worse at math, women are discouraged from choosing fields that are considered too “hard” for them, women are driven away from the field because of a women-unfriendly environment, and so on.

So women are deterred from computer science because they are neither wanted nor welcome (Often, not always! My mother is actually a software engineering professor and she is very successful in her field. It’s not impossible, simply more difficult). Is this the same reasoning behind men not working in art museums?

No. No no no no no.

Art museums require a high level of education yet often offer low levels of pay. The types of people drawn to an art museum are overwhelmingly women (Overwhelmingly middle class white women in fact, due to an ability to participate in the unpaid internships required for the field) likely due in part to women being raised to value our time and our work less. It’s why women are more likely to volunteer, work for free, or contribute more work to a joint household (aka, work for free). Additionally, many women are subtly encouraged to become art historians or work in museums rather than create their own work. Not because women’s artwork is worse, but because of sexist ideas that are long-lasting and difficult to end.

Not necessarily! We also get to work there!

Men are deterred from art museums not because they are neither wanted nor welcome, but because it is one of the fields they do not want to work in. The pay isn’t great, the recognition isn’t great, and men are generally not rerouted in this direction from fields they may have more interest in. In fact, many of the major positions in museums (Director, curators, the higher ups in the departments) are taken by men. Even in fields dominated by women, men still hold power.

So actually yes, in my opinion, the gender imbalance in museums is a problem, but not a problem that can be solved by the women in museum staff. Rather it is the result of a patriarchal society that often values women’s work less and we can solve it by… ending sexism.  Which is easier said than done! And is also a task that women working in museums, who, according to the article, are very careful not to exclude men, should be responsible for. I’d also argue that the people demanding gender equality in art museums because of too many women are the art world’s version of the upset college dudes demanding the first thing feminism fix be ladies night at the bar. And hey, no one likes that dude. That dude is very tiresome.

But don’t just take it from me! My experience with gender imbalances in the art field is drawn from art school, internships at a gallery and museum (The Corcoran is largely run by women! It was definitely an eye opening experience. Additionally, of approximately fifteen interns only one was male), and from what I’ve learned in class and online. Obviously my perspective is limited by my youth. Click over to the article and learn more from someone with far more experience and stories to tell!

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Women Artists Still Face Discrimination

Check out this article about the discrimination women still face in the art world. Did you know that of the twelve prestigious Gagosian Galleries only one will exhibit work by women in 2012? How about the fact that 97% of the Met’s modern art was created by men, while 83% of the nudes are women?

Many people are unaware that women are underrepresented and underpaid in the art world. The problem is not that women’s work is not as good, it’s not that women are not promoting themselves as well, and it’s certainly not that there are less of us. The problem is that so many of the people running our museums and galleries are biased against women, and push men’s work to the forefront while dismissing work by women.

It’s important that we know this. Because things will not change until we at least acknowledge the problem.

Here are a few museums and galleries that showcase women artists. Take a look if you can; they share the work of some incredible artists:

National Museum of Women in the Arts: The only major museum in the world dedicated to women’s artwork. This is one of my favorite museums. Definitely visit if you’re in the DC area!

Woman Made Gallery: A Chicago gallery with the mission of ensuring equal placement of women in the art world. It’s a beautiful space. They’re currently accepting submissions for their “Inspired By… Celebrating Illinois Women Artists and Artisans” exhibit.

Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: An exhibition and education environment dedicated to feminist art. Their site has helped me with quite a few research papers!

Florida Museum for Women Artists: A museum dedicated to identifying and promoting women in the arts.

Rutgers Institute for Women and Art: Educating about women in the arts and exhibiting work by women artists, the IWA attempts to include women in the mainstream art world and historical record. Also check out their Feminist Art Project.

Feel free to comment if you know of any women-oriented art programs, galleries, or museums you feel should be included in this list!

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