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Bronwyns Feminist Art History Presentation

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Bronwyns Feminist Art History Presentation

  1. 1. Feminism and Art History
  2. 2. Today: <ul><li>What is feminism? </li></ul><ul><li>First and second waves of feminism </li></ul><ul><li>Second-wave feminism and American art </li></ul><ul><li>Third-wave feminism and future directions </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Is this woman a feminist? </li></ul>
  4. 7. First-Wave Feminism: Late 19 th /Early 20 th Centuries
  5. 8. First-Wave Feminism: The Historical Context <ul><li>Women were widely considered to be: </li></ul><ul><li>Intellectually inferior </li></ul><ul><li>Physically weak </li></ul><ul><li>Emotional, intuitive, irrational </li></ul><ul><li>Suited to the roles of wife and mother </li></ul><ul><li>A woman was expected to marry and to serve her husband </li></ul><ul><li>In the traditional marriage vows women promised to “obey” their husbands </li></ul>
  6. 9. First-Wave Feminism: The Historical Context <ul><li>Women could not vote </li></ul><ul><li>They were not educated at schools/universities and could only work in manual jobs </li></ul><ul><li>A married women’s property and salary were owned by her husband </li></ul><ul><li>Rape and physical abuse legal within marriage </li></ul><ul><li>Divorce available to men but far more difficult for women </li></ul><ul><li>Women had no rights to their children if they left a marriage </li></ul><ul><li>Abortion was illegal </li></ul>
  7. 10. <ul><li>Mary Woolstonecraft (a feminist activist) describes marriage as: </li></ul><ul><li>“ legalised prostitution” </li></ul><ul><li>(in Vindication of the Rights of Woman 1792) </li></ul>
  8. 11. First-Wave Feminism <ul><li>Key period: Late 19 th /Early 20 th centuries </li></ul><ul><li>Overall goal: To improve the legal position for women, in particular to gain women the vote </li></ul><ul><li>Basic assumptions: </li></ul><ul><li>Men and women have separate, biologically determined roles and duties in society. Women work in the private sphere (the home), men in the public sphere. </li></ul><ul><li>However women should have legal protections and access to education in order to be better citizens. </li></ul>
  9. 12. So… <ul><li>First-wave feminists accepted that women should be wives and mothers. They generally believed that women were intrinsically/biologically different to men; however they argued that women were treated poorly in society and were more intellectual, rational and capable than they were given credit for. </li></ul>
  10. 13. Between the first and second waves: <ul><li>Key world events: </li></ul><ul><li>WWI 1914-1918 </li></ul><ul><li>The Great Depression starts 1929 and continues through the 1930s </li></ul><ul><li>WWII 1939-1945 </li></ul><ul><li>Some legal progress made during this time </li></ul>
  11. 14. Second-Wave Feminism: 1960s/1970s
  12. 15. Second-Wave Feminism: The Historical Context <ul><li>Women were (still) widely considered to be: </li></ul><ul><li>Intellectually inferior </li></ul><ul><li>Physically weak </li></ul><ul><li>Emotional, intuitive, irrational </li></ul><ul><li>Suited to the roles of wife and mother </li></ul><ul><li>A woman was (still) expected to marry and to serve her husband </li></ul><ul><li>In the traditional marriage vows women promised to “obey” their husbands </li></ul>
  13. 16. BUT… <ul><li>Two key experiences were beginning to alter women’s perceptions of themselves and their role in society… </li></ul>
  14. 17. 1. The War Experience <ul><li>During the first and second World Wars women had worked in traditionally masculine roles – in factories, as mechanics, as builders etc - while their men fought overseas. </li></ul><ul><li>When the soldiers returned they were expected to return to their roles of wives and mothers, and to accept domesticity. </li></ul>
  15. 18. WWI images
  16. 19. 2. The Civil Rights Movement <ul><li>The Civil Rights Movement gained momentum in America in the 1950s. It aimed to abolish racism in America. </li></ul><ul><li>Feminists supported the Civil Rights cause, and began to organise their own protests against the unequal treatment of women. </li></ul>
  17. 21. Second-Wave Feminism: The Historical Context <ul><li>Women could vote, attend school and university; however it was difficult to gain access to high-paying, high-calibre jobs (the “glass ceiling”) </li></ul><ul><li>Women did not receive equal pay for the same work </li></ul><ul><li>It was easier to gain a divorce but socially frowned upon </li></ul><ul><li>Rape and physical abuse within marriage were illegal but husbands were rarely convicted </li></ul><ul><li>Abortion was (still) illegal </li></ul><ul><li>Women’s bodies were objectified in advertising </li></ul>
  18. 22. Second-wave Feminism <ul><li>Key period: 1960s/1970s </li></ul><ul><li>Overall goal: A complete and radical overhaul of society and culture </li></ul><ul><li>Basic assumptions: </li></ul><ul><li>Society is patriarchal (i.e. ruled by men). </li></ul><ul><li>Women may have more legal rights but they are still treated as inferior, second-class citizens. </li></ul><ul><li>Women should be equal to men in all respects. </li></ul>
  19. 23. So… <ul><li>A key difference between first and second-wave feminism is that second-wave feminists no longer believed that men and women were intrinsically/biologically different. They believed that culture created the differences between sexes. </li></ul><ul><li>Simone de Beauvoir: “One is not born, but rather becomes a woman” ( The Second Sex ) </li></ul>
  20. 24. In other words… <ul><li>Second-wave feminists make a distinction between sex (male/female) and gender (masculinity/femininity). </li></ul><ul><li>While a person is born a particular sex he or she is taught to be masculine or female by culture and society. </li></ul>
  21. 25. <ul><li>Femininity (and masculinity) = cultural constructions, i.e. they are learnt behaviours; therefore they can be changed . </li></ul>
  22. 26. EG. <ul><li>Raising boys and girls: </li></ul>
  23. 28. Second-wave feminists argued: <ul><li>The nuclear family is a prison for women who are effectively domestic slaves. </li></ul><ul><li>Women deserve equal pay for equal work. </li></ul><ul><li>The legal system must be improved to protect women’s rights. </li></ul><ul><li>Advertising and the media should be criticised for being sexist and misogynist. </li></ul><ul><li>Women should not be forced to adhere to unrealistic ideals of beauty. </li></ul><ul><li>Abortion must be legal in order to have equality between the sexes. </li></ul>
  24. 29. The power of patriarchal culture <ul><li>If women had legal rights, why was culture so important to second-wave feminists? </li></ul><ul><li>Louise Nicholas case </li></ul><ul><li>NZ </li></ul>
  25. 30. Second-wave Feminism and Art History <ul><li>1. The history of art is characterised by a male gaze – art treats men as subjects (as conscious, feeling, complete human beings) and women as objects (superficial, shallow, the objects of male desire) </li></ul><ul><li>“ men act and women appear . Men look at women . Women watch themselves being looked at ” ( John Berger 1972) </li></ul>
  26. 31. The Birth of Venus , Botticelli, 1482-1486
  27. 32. The Venus of Urbino , Titian, 1538
  28. 33. Olympia , Manet, 1863
  29. 34. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon , Picasso, 1907
  30. 35. The male gaze <ul><li>Has been applied to other aspects of culture including film </li></ul><ul><li>Man as subject Woman as object </li></ul>
  31. 36. Second-wave Feminist artists critique the “gaze”:
  32. 37. Feminist Graffiti
  33. 38. Guerilla Girls 1989
  34. 39. Barbara Kruger Your Body Is a Battleground (1989)
  35. 40. Second-wave Feminism and Art History <ul><li>2. Women have been restricted from becoming artists, and those few who did manage against the odds to become great artists have been ignored by (patriarchal) art historians who only discuss the work of male artists </li></ul><ul><li>E.g. Artemisia Gentileschi </li></ul>
  36. 41. Gentileschi <ul><li>An Italian painter 1593-c1651 </li></ul><ul><li>Exhibited at many of the major art galleries in Europe and the first female painter to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence </li></ul><ul><li>Almost entirely ignored by art historians until the 1980s when feminists began to publish about her work </li></ul>
  37. 42. Artemisia Gentileschi Judith Slaying Holofornes 1612-1613
  38. 43. A rtemisia Gentileschi Susanna and the E lders 1610
  39. 44. Second-Wave Feminist artists critique the position of women artists in art history:
  40. 45. A rtemisia Gentileschi Guerrilla and the Elders 1610 (from The Guerrilla Girls' Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art. )
  41. 46. Second-Wave Feminism and Art History <ul><li>3. Women’s arts – particularly craft – have been ignored by the (patriarchal) art history tradition which focuses on painting and sculpture. Art history has treated women’s artistic activities as ‘low’ (unimportant) art. </li></ul>
  42. 47. Second-Wave Feminist artists critique the treatment of women’s arts:
  43. 48. Miriam Schapiro Lost and Found 1998
  44. 49. Third-Wave Feminism <ul><li>Do we still live in a patriarchal culture? </li></ul><ul><li>Is feminism still relevant? </li></ul>
  45. 50. Third-Wave Feminsm: The Historical Context <ul><li>Woman seem to be more equal to men: they are performing well in education, and in previously male dominated jobs (law, politics, medicine). </li></ul><ul><li>Women are no longer obligated to marry or have children, and marriage is more equal. </li></ul><ul><li>The legal system is better at protecting women’s rights. </li></ul>
  46. 51. But… <ul><li>Women are still treated as objects in the media. </li></ul><ul><li>There is still social pressure to marry and have children. </li></ul><ul><li>Women do not always receive equal pay to men. </li></ul>
  47. 52. Therefore… <ul><li>Feminism is still relevant in the late twentieth/early twenty-first centuries but second-wave feminism is problematic because it presumes women are victims of patriarchal culture. </li></ul><ul><li>It cannot account for the successes women have had. </li></ul>
  48. 53. Third-Wave Feminism <ul><li>Key period: 1990s/2000s </li></ul><ul><li>Overall Goal: to complicate the theories of second-wave feminism and make feminism relevant to contemporary culture. </li></ul><ul><li>Basic assumption: </li></ul><ul><li>Second-wave feminism is simplistic. </li></ul><ul><li>Women are not simply victims of a patriarchal culture. </li></ul><ul><li>Feminism must become more inclusive of black, lesbian, bisexual (etc) feminists </li></ul>
  49. 54. My Bed (signed “J Bloggs”) Tracey Emin 1999
  50. 55. Prize of Lilies: Portrait of Joseph Makea 1986 Fiona Pardington
  51. 56. Discussion Question <ul><li>Has art history been characterised by a “male gaze”? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the idea still relevant in popular culture? </li></ul>
  52. 57. Discussion Question <ul><li>Why is it important for women to be recognised in the arts? </li></ul>

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