How have women been depicted in modern art (1860-1960). How do these depictions reflect changing attitudes? Select a range of examples by both male and female artists to illustrate your answer.

Topics: Nudity, History of painting, Woman Pages: 7 (1179 words) Published: October 1, 1996
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How have women been depicted in modern art (1860-1960). How do these depictions reflect changing attitudes? Select a range of examples by both male and female artists to illustrate your answer.

As I flicked through the heavy pages of the traditional and

authoritative book on art history in my search of women seen

through both male and female eyes and painted with the skills of a

man's and women's hand most of what I cold find was male artists,

and if there was a woman painter there was little or no information

about her and her work was sometimes shown in black and white

reproduction, so if I wanted more information I had to turn to books

that deal only with women's work, as it was a separate issue, or a

totally different branch that had to be separated from the Main body

of art history.

Women have been seen and depicted differently through time, as

the styles changed so have the attitudes, (but not radically) the

perspectives from which the world was looked at, also the way We

as viewers experience the works has developed, today we are aware

of different approaches, contexts and cultural biases. From 1860 to

1960, From impressionism and Manet, to Abstract Expressionism

and de Kooning the female is still nude, and her function is her

(most of the time) naked body. Through Modernism there is a

difference in a way a woman depicts her self and the way a man

depicts her.

During Impressionism we see women as pretty long dresses that

reflect the sun and are a good ground to play with colors. Her faces

are not clearly seen, they are blurred and in shadow, like in Claude

Manet's sketch for The Picnic. Than again the man here are not

depicted any clearer, but in further works when the woman is naked,

man are not, like Eduoard Mante's Dejeuner sur l'herbe (1863).

Edgar Degas's young women are fleeting forms in elegant poses

usually ballerinas Ballet Rehearsal (1874), he does not forget the

ordinary folk woman in Two Laundresses (1884).

While Degas was an onlooker and his paintings seem that his

subjects do not seem to be aware of his presence Edourard Manet

has shocked his contemporaries with his work Olympia (1862-3). It

was disturbing for that time because this woman, who was a

prostitute, shamelessly stares at the viewer in the life size painting.

She is relaxed in her nakedness, almost aggressive, the black kitten

that is in a attacking pose re-emphasizes this attitude, she is no nice

girl and carries no shame or pretentiousness. It caused a great

upheaval, because till than naked woman never looked 'outside' at

the viewer, but always had an unconscious, lost, dreamy or

unconcerned gaze. This paintings were easy to look at, there was

not any uneasiness about starring blatantly at her, even though in

real life, woman's role was a housekeeper, mother and a guardian of

moral values, here she was exposed in a different manner.

Marie Cassat (1844-1926) who was influenced by Japanese art has

depicted woman in her everyday life, as a mother, house keeper, in

woman's chambers. Her paintings are warm, even though simple in

style. Feminine in a sense of a gentle mother looking after her child.

Man and woman depict the feminine in a different way, often for

a man is an extreme of either an unearthly saint or a shameless

prostitute. But when woman had the chance to paint herself it was

different from what the man has seen. Even though their styles

might be similar their choice of emphasis differs. This can be seen

between the paintings of Paul Gaugin (1848-1903) and Paula

Modersohn-Becker (1876-1907). It is said that she was influenced

by his style, and has seen his exhibition before painting her Self

Portrait (1906). She worked within the codes of the female nude,

but her Self Portrait has a...
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