Art and Gender Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :


Throughout the course of history, art has been used as a form of expression and to define social customs / traditions. In some cases, this is occurring with it serving as a symbol of the larger ideas that are most important to specific ethnic groups, religions, nationalities and gender. The result, is that each work will be interpreted differently, depending upon the perspectives that are taken. This means that there are techniques which influence the way someone sees specific works and how they are interpreted. In the case of gender and Western society, there are different interpretations about what it means to be a man or woman. To fully understand what is taking place requires looking at a number of artists and their interpretations. Together, these elements will illustrate how they are influencing art and the attitudes embraced inside the different works. (Barniskis, 2013) (Malossi, 1999) (Woolfolk, 2010)

Contemporary art dates back to the mid 20th century. It is popular throughout the United States and Western Europe. In general, it involves freestyle movements to spark creativity and expression. It borrows from other classical forms. The combination of these factors is integrated with each other to provide unique forms in achieving these objectives. (Barniskis, 2013) (Malossi, 1999) (Woolfolk, 2010)

There are several elements which are utilized to highlight different themes and ideas. The most notable are the climatic experiences. During this time, it does not rely on liner elements. Instead, it is emphasizing movements towards and away from the climax. There are several key areas which are focused on to include:

It stresses flexibility.

The appearance of it being disordered, yet it relies on techniques.

Sudden changes in the direction.

Several different actions occurring at the same time.

The use of symmetry and perspectives through font, center and hierarchies.

The freedom to use creativity.

Independence between the movement and actual work.

Innovative lights, sets and customs.

These different areas are important, as they are showing how contemporary art will borrow from a number of areas. The basic idea is to use the best of them to create another form of expression. (Barniskis, 2013) (Malossi, 1999) (Woolfolk, 2010)

At the same time, there is a focus on a number of factors to influence how young people will look at modern art. For instance, there are several variables which have the greatest impact. The most notable include: light, space, form, texture, color and composition. Lighting is something that will illuminate a particular source in order to have a better understanding of the work. Space is the distances between various objects and subjects. This is used to illustrate the way certain factors influenced everyone's thinking. Form is the structure or pattern embraced by the artists. This is designed to convey their feelings and ideas. Texture is the physical quality of the surface. It is used to demonstrate the techniques utilized by the artists. The use of color is illustrating the attitudes of the artists. In some cases, they will use brighter ones to demonstrate happiness about the future. While at the same time, they will utilize darker tones to underscore a deeper sense of self-reflection. The composition is combining the different parts together. This is designed to illustrate how specific factors will influence the person and the way they interpret the meaning from the work. (Barniskis, 2013) (Malossi, 1999) (Woolfolk, 2010)

In the case of gender, this will have an influence on their attitudes and beliefs. The combination of these factors shape how they look at different works and the impacts it is having on their attitudes. Once this takes place, is the point these views will become more common. In many ways, one can argue that modern art is embracing the best of traditional ideas which are integrated with new concepts. (Barniskis, 2013) (Malossi, 1999) (Woolfolk, 2010)

However, there are conflicting views about the way various techniques are applied and the impact it is having on them. This is creating contention about the impact of modern art on gender. These contrasting views are something which has been continually debated over the course of time. (Barniskis, 2013) (Malossi, 1999) (Woolfolk, 2010)

How artists or designers have subverted, challenged or questioned gendered stereotypes?

Traditionally, artists focused on gender by embracing traditional stereotypes. This meant that men embraced a number of elements when it comes to males. The most notable include: assertive, dominant, mind, public, world affairs and intellect. In the case of women, there are several attributes expressed to include: passiveness, subservience, emotion, privacy, body and domesticity. According to Wasson (1990), these areas were utilized to demonstrate specific social norms and attitudes with him saying, "This is used as a form of expression and to define social customs / traditions. In some cases, this is occurring with it serving as a symbol of the larger ideas that are most important to specific ethnic groups, religions, nationalities and gender." (Wasson, 1990) The result, is that each work will be interpreted differently, depending upon the perspectives that are taken.

Judith Butler's theory of performativity is examining how different genders will see each other based upon the way they dress. A classic example of this can be seen with her utilization of the stiletto show a woman's physical features. While a suit is used to accentuate how the male is intellectual. These differences are used in Barbie and Action Man to underscore these views. (Barniskis, 2013) (Malossi, 1999) (Woolfolk, 2010)

According to Lazzari (2011), there are three different ways that artwork will be studied. These include: as a critic, historian / academic and curator. Critics are people, who will look at the work from a contemporary perspective and make judgments about its significance. Historians will examine the art from a historical viewpoint and the lasting impact on future generations. While curators, will describe the work and discuss how it is relevant to others. (Lazzari, 2011) These insights are useful in showing how there are different opinions about analyzing the art and the impact it is having on stakeholders.

For example, Janine Antoni is demonstrating how obesity and self-image influence the attitudes of women. To illustrate the importance of these factors, she highlights two different groups of women who are not embraced these attributes via Lick and Lather. Instead, there are series of heads looking at each other. This is designed to challenge contemporary thinking by demonstrating how women are self-confident. Moreover, Jenny Saville is taking a different interpretation of perfomativity. This is occurring in Branded and Plain. In both works, she is taking a contrasting look at two women (one who is overweight vs. shaped). The basic idea is to question the traditional views of women by looking at them differently. (Caroll, 2000)

Discuss this in relation to a relevant theory or theories, which may include 'performativity', camp, the dandy or masquerade.

To improve upon these interpretations, there will be a focus on key trends and how this shapes the individual's perceptions of modern art. Evidence of this can be seen with Samuelson (2009) saying, "It is critical in gaining better insights about the way it is a form of expression and the impacts it is having social / cultural / political views." (Samuelson, 2009) Once this takes place, is the point the true impact of this form of art can be realized on women. This offers insights about the human side of the problem (i.e. contradictory behaviors, beliefs, emotions, feelings and relationships). These methods are effective in identifying intangible factors such as: social norms, socioeconomic status, gender roles, ethnicity and religion. This helps to interpret and better understand the complex reality of a given situation and the implications of quantitative data. This provides a better understanding of specific social phenomenon. These insights are showing how this method will take a unique approach when looking at the problem and the long-term impacts it is having. (Barnes, 2002) (Adams, 2007)

To enhance performativity, gender is altered to shape who they are and the way they look at the situation. This is achieved by altering perceptions using a trans-neutral focus. In these situations, men and women are shown to be in various roles. What helps them to standout is the fact that they are crossing over these barriers to tell a unique story. (Morgan, 1999) (Garber, 1992)

For instance; Claude Cahun and Grayson Perry are all changing how someone looks at gender. This occurs by showing women wearing clothing that was often reserved for men (such as jeans, t-shirts and shorts). While at other times, Oreet Ashery is showing an orthodox Jew with his back turned to the camera. This is challenges the traditional role of dress in society by placing men and women in clothing or lack thereof. The basic idea is to demonstrate that roles are changing and the influence it is having on contemporary society. These insights are important, as they are illustrating the long-term impacts and the influence it is having on this generation. Once this occurs, is the point these questions will offer a…

Sources Used in Document:


Adams, E. (2007). After the Rain. Ann Arbor, MI: Proquest.

Barnes, R. (2002). Teaching Art to Young Children. New York, NY: Springer.

Barniskis, S.C. (2013). Teaching art to teens in public libraries. Teaching Artist Journal,

11( 2), 81-96

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