Reflections and Research

To start with, I’ll be using this blog as a documentation of the past two semesters, with a main focus on my dissertation work. A couple of my initial research questions include:

  • How and why does this appear in art?
  • Include the idea of women needing ‘The Male Gaze’ for validation; and the complexity of the issue.
  • Examining how artists portray the Object vs.Subject; the submissive and empowered.
  • Examine artists’ works; foreign and local. Comparisons? Differences?

An artist who I believe has influenced my work is the New York city based artist Dan Fine. He is the founder and director of His videos create an immediate sense of reality, with a focus on the relationship between the body (the object), the viewer and the context in which they both exist.

Screen Shot 2012-11-10 at 23.48.59

The plan was to investigate the history of this apparent male gaze in art and whether or not it affects the way we perceive art. Whether or not it’s evident in older artworks as well as contemporary and analyzing different viewpoints from theorists, feminists, evolutionists and so on.

I began looking into European oil paintings from the Late Renaissance during the 1500’s. The subject, the woman, is aware that she is being watched. She is not naked as she is but naked as the spectator sees her (Taken from ‘Ways of Seeing’ by John Berger). Her body is solely on display for the male spectators pleasure. Berger believes that any woman viewing the work will identify with the woman, thus feeling looked at, and objectified.

'Susannah and the Elders' by Tintoretto

‘Susannah and the Elders’ by Tintoretto

'Vanity' by Memling

‘Vanity’ by Memling

‘Vanity’ is a good example of hypocrisy. He painted a naked woman because he enjoyed looking at her. He put a mirror in her hand and called it vanity, morally condemning the woman whose nakedness he depicted for his own pleasure.

'The Judgement of Paris' by Cranarch

‘The Judgement of Paris’ by Cranarch

Here Paris awards the apple to the woman he finds most beautiful. So now beauty has become competitive.

‘Venus, Cupid, Time and Love’ - Bronzino

‘Venus, Cupid, Time and Love’ – Bronzino

In this painting, Venus’ body is arranged on display. Catering to any man looking at the picture. We see this on modern day media and advertising; the concept has not changed.

'Les Oracles' by Bouguereau

‘Les Oracles’ by Bouguereau

Men of state and business, discussed under paintings such as this.

After my research, I considered the possibility of reproducing certain images and substituting the female figure for  the male and trying to keep as true to the technique and style as possible. I think the role-reveral will seem absurd to many.

So I sketched a few men, taken from traditional artworks. You can view these preparatory sketches here:

I then placed them onto the original image using Photoshop, to get an idea of the composition.

Experiment with oil paints, unfinished

Experiment with oil paints, unfinished

I kind of abandoned this work, but i’ll definitely try it out again soon.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s