Women In Jack Levine's Girl With Red Hair

Good Essays
Topics: Woman, Gender, Femininity
We have, more or less, as an audience become used to the idealized depiction of women. Often, particularly in classical styles, they were portrayed as reclining nudes who were there for the viewer’s pleasure. With averted eyes, they touched themselves sensually, typically innocent and oblivious that there is someone painting her for all to see. When they weren’t sexual-fantasy fodder, they were servile and obedient–particularly in the 1940′s and 1950′s after the end of the strong women era of World War II. They wore their hair in perfect curls, with their perfect dresses and worked merrily away in their perfect kitchens. In Jack Levine’s Girl with Red Hair there is a shift away from the perfect, care-free woman that came before. Rather, nudity …show more content…
Predominantly, the depiction of women has centered around the “ideal woman”–which, if you haven’t picked up a magazine lately, is typically white, attractive, young, thin and perky. The woman here, however, is the antithesis. Though she is attractive, she does not have the “elegant” features that a painter might have looked for in the first half of the century. She is fragmented into six pieces and while they mostly match up–in that there are no huge gaps of information–there is a significant deformation of her figure. Her face is extra wide and left arm seems oddly long. A clear difference between the perfectly kept and rendered women of the past, this modern woman allows her flaws and her discord to be reflected in between each frame. She is a woman, not an object to …show more content…
Mark Catalina (b. 1965). Acrylic on canvas, 72 x 72 in. New Britain Museum of American Art, Gift of the Artist, 2003.01
Lastly, this piece seems to me to be the most poignant out of the bunch. We are not privy to the “real” image, but only its negative. In form, we might recognize the person as a female. They have breasts, long flowing hair, jewelry… some of the key indicators of what we may associate with being a woman. However, with the inverted colors, we are shown someone with manly features and thus, the lines of gender are blurred. Clearly, the makeup the subject is wearing is exaggerated–dark lips and cat-like eyeshadow–and further masks the individual’s gender. This piece is so inexorably tied to the way in which sex and gender are separated and defined. In this, the artist is redefining the appearance of women, in that women may not even be “feminine” at all. This piece broaches the subject of femininity and womanhood in an entirely new way, and is entirely appropriate in the evolving context of women in

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