Friday, February 27, 2009

Readings for March 6

Whitney Chadwick, “Modernism, Abstraction, and the New Woman, 1910-25,” Chapter 9, Women, Art, and Society, 4th ed. (New York: Thames and Hudson, 2007), pp. 252-278.

Sigmund Freud, "Case 5: Elisabeth Von R." in Josef Breuer and Sigmund Freud, Studies on Hysteria, trans. James Strachey (New York: Basic Books, nd), pp. 135-181.

Carol Duncan, “Virility and Domination in Early Twentieth-Century Vanguard Painting,” in Feminism and Art History: Questioning the Litany, eds. Norma Broude and Mary Garrard (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1982), pp. 292-313.

Carol Duncan, “The MoMA’s Hot Mamas,” in The Expanding Discourse: Feminism and Art History, eds. Norma Broude and Mary Garrard (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1992), pp. 346-357.

Anna C. Chave, “New Encounters with Les Demoiselles D’Avignon: Gender, Race, and the Origins of Cubism,” in Reclaiming Female Agency: Feminist Art History After Postmodernism, eds. Norma Broude and Mary Garrard (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), pp. 300-323.


  1. This week I was fascinated how the more abstract styles of art effected not only the way individuals saw images but also how it affected fashion. The texted talked about how clothing and hair styles reflected the modern idea of the early 1900's. Everything had more abstract detail such as Kandinsky’s many pieces. Color was also a main focus seen in Alexandra Exter's composition painted in 1914. Similar of that of female fashion, women became a focus in how their bodies became an abstracted vision, such as in many of Picasso, Kirchner, Paula Moderson-Becker, and Matisse's pieces. They all use color as a way to set the mood and create the style, which brought to the value and gave the paint itself a way of expressing the subject matter.

    Thinking back to the idea of paintings becoming the focus of fashion made me think of last week’s lecture, when we talked about department stores being the women’s domain. This gave women a way of expressing their want to buy and enjoy art with a more affordable cost. We still do this today, even my hand bag is a piece of art!

  2. The Freud reading (which I have not finished yet) got me reading this book that was sitting on a table in the talks all about the "wandering womb" which I think its just "hysterical" lol pun is hard to believe what was considered science. At one time intercourse was prescribed to women because they thought the man's semen was good for keeping the womb from drying up. If the womb dried up, it would wander around the body looking for moisture, such as from the liver. I am so glad I was not around in those days. I don't think the drs orders would have sat well with me. Anyway, just an interesting side piece that seems to connect well with this class.

  3. I'm fascinated how the binary of woman/man; nature/culture came up again in the Virility and Domination reading by Duncan in the red book. Women are still being viewed as a completely different race. Yet a few places it states how men purposely kept themselves apart from this "woman's realm." Almost like they were afraid to enter it. I also find it interesting that this isn't strictly a European thing, that its a rather ancient idea. Found all over the world. My thoughts on this: it can't be simply coincidence.

  4. The article on The Museum of Modern Art points out an interesting thought on how juxtaposing paintings of scary women with other works (especially ones depicting a journey into a different realm) reinforces the desired atmosphere for male viewers. The message would have been completely different if each work was viewed by itself but the fact that they interact visually in the museum space, gives them a meaning based on surrounding context. Woman I by de Kooning for example, becomes the gatekeeper for the male visitor who is headed to look at Pollock's voyage into the forest of marks. The viewer must overcome her first in order to enjoy a different reality.

  5. From the Whitney Chadwick Textbook

    I enjoyed hearing how fashion and art played a role hand in hand, but it also brings back the continual binary between craft and art and functional pieces. What is to be truly considered art and what is merely functional. I also like the idea of how women’s dress reflected women’s view in and on society and it’s ideals. The fact that the challenge between “high and low art, or between art and craft” was being challenged while the idea of female as object versus maker coincides, and it shows how “gender and art are shown as social productions”.

  6. with the reading of Freud (at p.166), the idea of woman as a sick nurse seems relative to this idea of hysteria. a woman's role as a Dr. for her loved ones would allow her with so much and many responsibilities. if her lost a loved one to whatever illness, her grief therefore should be heightened. it's completely understandable that women would be overcome with hysteria. the situation of Liz von R. was fairly awful. she had no time to unwind from all the stress and loss. i found it interesting how Freud concluded that her somatic pain was a disassociation of her mental anguish and sexual frustrations. i feel though that i have to take what Freud says in any respect with a grain of salt, considering he prescribe many patience and himself with coca powder.

  7. I found the piece about MOMA's Hot women very interesting. They have this big rearrangement of the collection and to the critics it has barely been changed outside of the same styles of art history has always been placed in. THen it went on to talk about how women were portrayed especially those by Picasso, Duchamp, etc, and how women are what to set up as commodities like in the past. They're still not regarded as people but objects.

  8. The study on hysteria really seemed to have a focus of the psychologist being right and the patient being wrong to me. I've read about the problems of hypnosis sometimes creating false memories, and with the pressure that was put on Elizabeth, the infatuation with her brother in law might not even have been true. Freud seemed to be insistant of her being incapable of living without a man's love. The study in general seemed persistant on the patient not doing procedures correctly. The head and pressure concept was really a strange idea used at the time, and I can't understand how that would make someone remember things.

  9. Who is "witchbitch"???

  10. "The ambiguity of the figure, its power to resemble an awesome mother goddess as well as a modern burlesque queen, provides a fine cultural, psychological and artistic field in which to enact the modern myth of the artist hero--hero who spiritual ordeal becomes the stuff of ritual in the public space of the museum."

    I feel this text finds a lot of important points involving women and their representation or depiction in the museum setting, but I also feel it is a great reminder of how a "spiritual ordeal becomes the stuff of the ritual on the public space of the museum." What I take from this is an interesting juxtaposition of a ritual association with a museum setting. In some way to two seem farfetched, yet comprehendible.

  11. I agree with the comparison of the featured works in the MOMA and modern day pornography. Some male painters I've known would probably be in the porn industry if they didn't figure out the more socially acceptable means to facilitate their need to objectify women through their artwork. More hypothetical questions: What really is the difference between much of Picasso's or de Konning's work and for instance the artist Coop who paints comic book style naked red devil pin up girls in suggestive poses? I think the same people who praise the likes of Picasso or de Kooning would quickly dismiss Coop's work as "low brow". Why is it low brow? Is it because it is less ambiguous with its message? It doesn't seem to be misinterpreted. Why, if the intent is the same (depicting women as dangerous sexual she devils), are de Kooning and Picasso not considered low brow?
    I understand men channeling their insecurities concerning women through their art, but what makes this acceptable in society? How does masturbatory paintings by men for men become socially acceptable? Why hasn't the stigma of shame that the porn industry has (but is gradually losing) been given to these works of art? The umbrage from Carol Duncan stems from the consistent misinterpretation of the work. "As mediated by art criticism, de Kooning's work speaks ultimately not of male fear but of the triumph of art and a self-creating spirit." Who are these art critics? Are they men who pee on our leg and tell us it's raining? I think the article argues, YES.

  12. vi⋅ril⋅i⋅ty   [vuh-ril-i-tee] Courtesy of
    1. the state or quality of being virile; manly character, vigor, or spirit; masculinity.
    2. the power of procreation

    Very Intriguing reading of the "Virility and Domination...Vanguard Painting. I can't help but tie experiences from Life Drawing into this reading. In today's time, or in life drawing class at mca, the body is a canvas; it is to be looked at as an art form and is meant to be depicted as such, yet in this reading the woman's nude body is seen for just male's sexual appetite. It's odd as heck because I hope that when drawing a woman's nude body in Life Drawing class that a man is not aroused? That's just me. It seems that for far to long the female body has been so one sided.

    I will just take a minute to dissect the reading. Highlighted areas about "the woman's problem" was very interesting to me. Phrases like "the human predicament" and "defined exclusively as a male predicament", yet is looked at as a woman's problem is an unsettled remark to make about it's our problem that men look at a woman's body as a sexual craving? It's our problem that women for so long have been associated with "nature" and not "culture", because we don't belong? It's not our place? This gave me chuckles when reading..."the Brucke, were youth and health cultists who liked noisy colors and wanted to paint their direct experience or mountains, flags, sunshine and naked girls" !! Wow, I thought that when making a list of associated images, words like mountains and sunshine aren't commonly associated with "naked girls". WOW! And another thing that did'nt settle with me was the comment that when talking about life, "defined Life in terms of the MALE situation"...So Life with a big L isn't associated with women as well?

    If it isn't enough that a woman is deemed accepted when naked, to add insult to injury, she is filtered "out everything irrelevant to the most basic genital urge", as shown is Van Dougen's Reclining Nude. She doesn't even have a head! Because it's irrelevant?

    The "New Woman" still gets no slack. "The problem", again there's that "problem", "the main thrust of women's emancipation--was no to invert the existing social-sexual order" because if doing so, ws to set up for "social suicide"--a woman artist should dare not portray a nude figure because she struggled "for her own autonomy as a psychological, social and political being? Absolutely absurd!

  13. So, I know this is late, and I really don't have much to say, but I thought I'd just point out the most interesting quote to me. In the picture on cover book it said, "The gaze is the erection of the eye." Wow. I just think that's great. It goes with all this talk about the gaze so well. It seems like everything a man does towards a woman is sexual, even just looking. And it always seems aggressive too.

    Hmmm, might not be making as much sense as I should. Apologies, I have been ill.