Dichotomy Of Femininity In Art

1400 Words6 Pages
The concept of femininity is abstract. Each cultural group --each individual, really-- has a slightly different interpretation of it. What unites us is our common desire of expressing this non-concrete notion, which is nonetheless present in our daily lives, within our art. A look back at the way artists in different time periods portrayed femininity will not only lead to a better understanding of their artistic techniques, but also of the views of society on femininity at the time. This essay will attempt to compare and contrast the symbolism frequently used by painters in the 18th, 19h, and 20th century by using analyses found in five different art historians’ writings.
Among all objects that are commonly associated with femininity, so called “beauty products” are possibly the most frequently used in
…show more content…
This opens up the discussion about the (false) dichotomy of femininity and feminism-- a common theme among 20th century art. As we will see, however, the struggle to attempt to portray anything correlated with womanhood in a positive, empowering light, had already been prevalent for decades.
The 19th century cannot easily be described as a time period when femininity was flourishing. Though there was an increase in female artists, their style was often ridiculed and their works mainly ignored. One example of this is Berthe Morisot, a Parisian painter who is sometimes referred to as the “Forgotten Impressionist”. Her paintings discussed in the paper “Facturing Femininity: Manet's ‘Before the Mirror’” by Carol Armstrong feature the trope we have seen so many times: women in the act of the “toilette”. Again, this was met with condescending critique, such as that of by Charles Ephrussi: “She grinds flower petals onto her palette, in order to spread them later on her canvas with witty, airy touches, thrown down a little haphazardly.” The patronising tone at the mention of flowers seen here has its
Open Document