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Women and the Media Final Project

Women and the Media Final Project

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Published by: ksalamea on Dec 15, 2009
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05/22/2012

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Karina SalameaWomen and the Media 384Professor CacoiloFinal ProjectFrom Male Objectification to Female RepresentationThroughout art history the female form has been the subject of choice for countless artists. In early 20
th
century art many male artists have dominated the depictionof the female nude. However as time went on female artists chose to depict the femaleform in their own way, by making commentary that was very different from the images painted by earlier male artists. They made sure that what they had to say and depict wasin fact connected to their gender and it was from that that their statement was formed.There are many works of the 20
th
century by male artists that are suppose to beconsidered work that was very avant-garde during there time. But when looked at for how they are present the female nude rather than the aesthetic approach, their work can be seen as those in a long line in art history that objectify the female nude. The reasonthat these works of art can be considered an objectification is because of the fact that themale artist took a particular approach when painting the image. The way that male artistdisplay their subject matters and in some cases the use of color and the general shape of the nude helps to further show this. Another very important element of their paintings isthe expression of the face of the female nudes, and in some cases the complete lack of expressions or even faces.The first three avant-garde movements of the twentieth century, Fauvism,Cubism, and German Expressionism, consist of many works that portray women as
 
 powerless and as a dominated gender. What is ironic about the fact that these movementsare considered to have produced work that is avant-garde is the fact that most of theseimages can be seen as regressive rather than the progressive way that they were being presented in the art world. This was a time in history when women in high society were being educated yet see as sexual objects by the hands of male artists. Another thing that isironic is the general idea; all presentation is representation, which avant-gardemovements are based on. There can be many ways to interpret that approach. One way isthat by presenting something, be it object, humans, nature, etc. one is representing it in anew manner. Another way to decipher that idea is that by presenting something you arere-presenting it, showing it in a new way. But in fact these artists aren’t showing any newidea because they are just joining the line of those before them that used the nude as asubject choice and by doing so they continued to objectify women.There are many pieces of art from the Fauve movement that helps to show thehow females are objectified with the use of the depiction of the nude. One piece thatstands out is Henri Matisse’s
The Blue Nude (Souvenir de Biskra)
, 1907. In this paintingMatisse has painted a very curvaceous woman, almost exaggeratedly so. This woman is positioned in a very particular pose. She is displayed in away that makes her something to be looked at. Her pose exposes her very plumped breasts as well as her exaggerated buttocks. It can also be argued that the plant behind the female figure is in a way echoingthe shape of her curves and bring more focus to her body, rather than anything elsedepicted on the canvas. An element of the painting that is very important to notice is thatthe female’s eyes are not looking back at the viewer. She is looking away as to not beconsidered confrontational to the viewer or even the artist himself. This is something that
 
John Berger brings up in his book 
Ways of Seeing,
the concept of the male gaze. Themale gaze is not something that came up in 20
th
century but rather something that has been imbedded for so long in art history that both male and females, be they artist or viewer, can’t escape. In this book he states “Men look at women. Women watchthemselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men andwomen but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object – and most particularlyan object of vision: a sight.” This is exactly what results from the works of artists likeMatisse, and those who came after him in the 20
th
century.Another piece that can be considered to encompass many issue of theobjectification of women in 20
th
century painting is Pablo Picasso’s
 Les Demoisellesd’Avignon
from 1907. This was a piece that was done right at the turn of the century, a piece that can be considered one of his most famous, if not his most famous. The title of this piece talks about the women of Avignon. Which was known to be a street thathoused a brothel with many clientele. So when people looked at this piece they alreadyassociated the female figures in the painting as being prostitutes. Being that this is one of his proto-cubist works the faces of the females are depicted from different angles, but nomatter what the gaze of the women are calling the viewer in. The shapes that frame thewomen is suppose to be a curtain which, the figure on the left is pushing back as if to

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