Since humanity evolved women have been worshipped, adored, cherished and admired whilst simultaneously have been defamed, castigated, condemned, abused, maligned, raped and murdered as can be seen through the history of art. How women are portrayed in art tells much about the status and roles of women in society and the place where men wanted them. Since prehistoric times woman have been portrayed in art, giving an impression of the perception the artist and the culture they lived in, had of women.
The earliest etchings and figures strongly relate around one thing. The female as the life giver, fertility and childbirth. Although there is the impression that in these times women were seen as purely wives and mothers keeping the house (cave? ) tidy. Some would argue women were not portrayed as anything less than equal in art. The concept of fertility and childbirth was very important and raised women to a level of great spiritual importance and power amongst primitive society.Order now
Jenny Saville is a modern figurative artist who through her work raises questions relating to worlds perception of genders, focusing on the blurring of the lines of gender in women; in the mind sets of the changing perceptions men have of women as well as the perception women have of them selves in a where the power of women is only recent. She states shes searching to create the sense of the idea of a floating gender that is not fixed where sex doesnt define who category a subject falls into. This is her controversial painting of a transvestite with a womanly figure, breast but male genitals.
She says this piece is intended to cause ambiguity on all levels. Is it a woman who is like a man or a man who is like a woman or both or neither? The painting is from a low angel supposedly to impose a masculine domination whilst she lays femininely unprotected on the floor. Very modern art such as Damien Hursts The Virgin Mother The Virgin Mother has layers removed on one side to reveal the foetus and the woman’s skull, muscles and tissue. Some might argue that the image of the baby and the mother like this is a life affirming and beautiful depiction of the female as the most special giver of life.
A very powerful position, seeing pregnancy and childbirth not as just the role of women in a world made for men almost and authoritarian position, this is corroborated by the size of the statue which stands tall above courtyard 35 ft in the air giving the impression of power and dominance. The importance of women and the role they play in mankind. Although it has also been argued that Hursts dissection of the body, the organs revealed, the womb the breasts and the structure of the body visible almost like the biological construction of a baby machine.
Taking away the special, powerful position that fertility and childbirth can be seen as having and evoking thoughts of women merely as factories in the continuation of the species. Kali Goddess of suffering Kali is the ferocious form of the divine mother. Far from an inanimate object of timidity and weakness. She embodies power, violence savage brutality and power over all men and is portayed like this through all hindu artistic portrayals Active and passive argument There is a argument that women have always been depicted in art as passive whilst men are portrayed as active.
A nude Venus like the ones of Botticelli and paintings by Titian are embodiments of religious ideals. But in both cases women are also sensuous, passive ornaments intended for the male gaze. This is particularly so in the case of the Titian painting, which not only provides a surrogate audience in the figure of an pervy musician musician but also models its Venus on a 16th century escort woman, courtesan. The most obvious example of this is the reclining nudes such as the one of the left.
Although not painted for sexual desire or erotic stimulation, and whilst she is depicted as a goddess she is sleeping inanimate. Paintings of this era were painted by men for men. Giorgione has made the female a subject of spectators, voyeurs into her private world. We must remember that for the majority of human civilisation images of women portrayed in art, literature and film have been created by and for men. Women were often thought of as being simple minded, only thinking of beauty and vanity.
Valasquez takes the classic image of the reclining venus seen on the right and shows us a Venus with her back to us, admiring herself in the mirror, and we see how Venus has now become absorbed in her own vanity. Artists toying with the ambiguity of opinion over the representation of women. Goya’s Naked Maja (painted around 1800) ushered in a period where the reclining nude was not a goddess, princess, mistress or pampered woman. The Maja is a woman of questionable identity. Is she someone’s wife or lover, a working model merely posing for money, or something else?
The painting was seized in 1808 by order of King Ferdinand VI of Spain , and in 1813, the Inquisition confiscated the painting as an “obscene work. ” Nonetheless, Goya’s interpretation of the nude was later followed by other painters, especially in France . Women portraying women. The Polish artist Tamara Lempicka is well known for her Art Deco-styled figures of sexy, bedroom-eyed women layed in haunting poses. The history of the image of women as erotic objects in art is endless and, for modern eyes sharpened by the critical insights of feminist thought, endlessly problematic.
One can only begin to try and list how many ways it has been reformed in the hands of women Pre-Raphaelite Art. Through opposite images of sexuality and virtue, female subjects have been elevated whilst being imprisoned. These women are almost metaphor for the position and role that the ideal Victorian female was expected to take. The first prevalent representation of women in the artwork of this period is that of the Holy Virgin. They are the ideal image of devotion and virtue. In Rossetti’s Ecca Ancilla Domini, the artist trys to show the religious significance of the Virgin mother.