Art and Feminism

Where are the women in art history? Under what circumstances did women make art?
What did they make? How was it received? How do we study art in a discipline that has largely dismissed women?

This course will attempt to answer these questions as we consider the work of female artists from the Renaissance to artists practising today. Participants will gain a deeper understanding of how art has been created, interpreted and re-interpreted through the shifting sands of gender identity, gender roles, restrictions and expectations.

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Course outline

Where are the women in art history? Under what circumstances did women make art?
What did they make? How was it received? How do we study art in a discipline that has largely dismissed women?

This course will attempt to answer these questions as we consider the work of female artists from the Renaissance to artists practising today. Participants will gain a deeper understanding of how art has been created, interpreted and re-interpreted through the shifting sands of gender identity, gender roles, restrictions and expectations.

Week 1: Introduction and case study of Artemisia Gentileschi
This class will explore some overarching questions that will frame our discussions for the course. What are/were the circumstances in which women could or could not produce art in Western European art history? In what ways is gender a social construct, and what implications does this have on making art and looking at art? We will examine the work of Artemisia Gentileschi in the context of her 17th century professional and social environment as a case study.

Week 2: The Dutch Golden Age: a woman’s world
This class will explore how the economic and social circumstances of the Dutch Republic created greater opportunities for women as artists. We will examine work by flower painter Rachel Ruysch, genre painter and portraitist Judith Leyster, and printmaker Geertruid Roghman. We will also look at how women were portrayed in genre paintings and portraits, to gain a broader understanding of these artists’ professional and social contexts.

Week 3: Mary Cassatt: looking at women, looking as women
This class will investigate the work of Mary Cassatt, an Impressionist artist. Over the course of a long and illustrious career, she experimented with avant-garde painting techniques, domestic subject matter and Japanese printmaking. Work by Degas and Renoir will also be considered as comparative examples.

Week 4: Modern women: Sonia Delaunay and Hilma af Klint
Art was being pushed towards complete abstraction in the early 20th century, as artists explored ways of representing the invisible: Hilma af Klint’s spiritualism and Sonia Delaunay’s prismatic patterns inspired by electricity. We will also consider Delaunay’s textile designs and collaborations with Dadaist and Surrealist artists.

Week 5: The female body
The female body has a long tradition of being objectified in Western European art. This class will consider the complexities of Yves Klein’s Anthropometry series where nude women covered in paint were his ‘living brushes’, Niki de Saint Phalle’s tongue-in-cheek Hon, and Carolee Schneeman’s iconic feminist performance Interior Scroll.

Week 6: The 1960’s to contemporary
This class will sample a few key works from this period, to explore the diverse ways that feminism can be used as a lens through which to interrogate art, and a framework for making art. Our discussions will include Yoko Ono’s performance Cut Piece, Cindy Sherman’s Untitled film still series and Mickalene Thomas’ appropriation of canonic female nude paintings.

On completion of this course, learners will have a more critical understanding of how conventional Western European art history has been shaped by a male gaze and patriarchal structures. Participants will be able to use visual analysis skills to critically analyze any work of art, and have an awareness of how feminism can be used as an interpretive tool for understanding art and creating art.

Details

  • 6 x Tuesdays 10am-12pm, 21 May– 25 June
  • $230.00 incl. GST
  • The University of Auckland, City Campus
  • Presented by Linda Yang

Seminar presenter

Linda Yang

Linda Yang

Professional Teaching Fellowship

Linda Yang completed a Professional Teaching Fellowship in Art History at the University of Auckland, where she previously attained her Masters in Art History. Linda has also completed an internship at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, and was an Educator at the Auckland Art Gallery.

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