‘Women in Art’ : This talk is available for any organisation that would like an ‘alternative’ narrative on how the female form, woman and women in general have been employed or exploited as a motif to give art a role and purpose.
I could have concentrated simply on listing women artists and their works from Renaissance times with such as Artemisia Gentileschi through 19th Century’s Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot
and more recent times such as Georgia O’Keefe, Cindy Sherman, Tracey Emin, Laura Knight and Barbara Hepworth for instance.
We could have considered how male artists depicted women as subject matters through the ages and similarly with female artists’ depiction of the female form.
Instead, I chose to look at the depiction of women as motifs employed or exploited to enhance giving the art work a point of purpose.
So not looking at the works as ‘standalones’ but within a much broader context: religious, socio-economic, cultural background, artists’ backgrounds etc.
I took 8 categories of ‘the use of art, the point of art’ and for each of these categories I illustrated with examples, some works fitting into more than one category of course, whilst others were clearly set within one purpose.
Idealisation of beauty
Social commentary (Manet Bar at the Folies Berghere)
With this as background I invited the audience to consider 15 well known works and vote how each painting could fit into one or more of the 8 categories I had listed. Interesting debates followed and most examples were quite easy to categorise whilst others perhaps not so.
For example – worship, idealisation of beauty, voyeurism, propaganda, control, commercialisation, social commentary, narrative, empowering ???
At the end of the session, I do believe a greater depth of appreciation and understanding of how the female form has been used by both women and men artists to make their works work as intended.