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Post-Modernism and the Feminist Influence

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Post-Modernism has become unavoidably political.

The images and stories being presented are never neutral, they challenge conceptions and promote new ways of thinking. The relationship between post-modernism and feminism has always been acknowledged as one that has become close through the years.Catherine Stimpson explains that “the history of feminist thought on this topic includes the confrontation of dominant representations of women as misrepresentations. Clearly not all post-modern work comes under the feminist influence but the impact of several talented women artists who are interested in their role in the art world have brought the issue to the forefront of discussion.

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Sarah Lucas and Jenny Saville have both produced highly influential works that have reflected issues in gender politics and challenged the way we perceive the modern woman today. I find these two artists interesting as their work is so different, yet they both appear to often echo similar theories and ideas. Saville is primarily a painter.From the beginning her career as an artist was a great sucess.

She sold every single work in her degree show, one to Charles Saatchi who was so impressed he then went on to seek out every other piece she sold and buy that aswell, hailing her as a Francis bacon or Lucian Freud of our time. Yet Savilles identity and her role as a female artist has encouraged many critics to reflect on her work on a far more sophisticated level. Many critics argue that by reinscribing the female body Saville allows herself to transgress boundaries and reimagine the potentials of what femininity means for our culture.Sarah Lucas has a very different take on how to present her ideas.

She prefers to construct pictures from every day objects and materials. Lucas herself admits to being heavily influenced by feminist theory, works such as Andrea Dworkin”s “Pornography” and “Intercourse” have helped developed her artistic ideas but still, she would not go as far to say her work itself is “feminist” or “political”. Much of the so-called “feminist” work that has arisen has come out of a need to represent differences amongst women, i. e.

n sexuality, age, race, class, ethnicity and nationality, including the range of diverse political opinions held.The reason for the common conflation between post-modernism and feminism may also lie through their common interest in representation. Many female artists see their work as a defence against the popular images of women that have been presented in traditional art and in the media. The erotic economy that we live in holds much of this blame bringing about the problematizing of the female body and its sexuality.

Of course the body cannot escape representation thus it cannot escape the post-modern feminist challenge of pre-created masculinist uprisings. Not only does the work challenge representation in art but through modern thought, radicalizing the post-modern sense of difference as it brings together the private and public spheres aswell as the personal and political. Women have become more aware of their roles as female artists, yet they have also been sucessful in making men aware of themselves as “gendered” artists.There is a thesis also that through women”s art, the female body is reinscribed in ways that transgress boundaries and reimagine potentials.

This has been sucessfull in beginning to reconstruct our conceptions of what femininity and female bodies might mean for our culture. The “negative aesthetics” of 70s and 80s feminist cultural theory focused on deconstructing existing representational forms that refused identification between viewer and image. Yet today this is no longer the case, through a development in female priviliges attitudes have become more exploratory rather than destructive.There is more work emerging now from artists who represent the sexual body in ways that cannot be contained within the paradigmatic “male gaze”.

Jenny Saville is an example. Saville has a strong interest in feminist theory . Her work is thus undistorted by the male eye. The inspiration for her work came when she lived in America.

In Ohio, she visited the malls where “you saw lots of big women. Big white flesh in shorts and T-shirts,”she has said, all of whom “had the physicality that I was interested in”.While living in New York in 1994, she spent hours observing the work of Dr Weintraub, a plastic surgeon whose interventional techniques helped develop her anatomical understanding of excessive human fat. This also encouraged her interest in the extremes of the body and how we can affect the way we are portrayed with out bodily shape.

Savilles feminism exists because of her unromantic approach to the female form. One image that is particularly interesting is one of her early works Propped, from 1992. An obese female sits nude on a stool, clutching at her thighs, she peers down at the viewer.Words are etched into the paint surface, they are quotes from a text by the French feminist theorist Luce Irigaray.

This illustrates Saville”s role as a critique of the traditional female nude in art history. Saville”s work in contrast, is unaffected. The images are strangely desirable but not in the traditional sense. We are not given the opportunity to objectify and enjoy the body presented to us.

They possess a raw sexuality that contrast severely with traditional depictions of idealised femininity.The usual lack of focus on facial expression and the isolation of her images from social or historical effect make it incredibly difficult to decipher the subjects attitudes to their shape. Many critics concern themselves over whether these are images of beauty of disgust. Yet this is wholly unproductive as the images stand of their own as blocks of flesh outside of society’s conceptual influence.

Saville works from photographs rather than from models, using magazines and medical books for small details. She also experimented with ideas with the photographer Glen Lutchford.Naked bodies were pressed onto plexiglass and the flesh was squashed and squeezed to create a surreal image of the human body. Recently Saville has begun to explore other areas , as illustrated by “Matrix” a graphic depiction of a transsexual.

Like the majority of he paintings the focus is on the body rather than on facial characteristics, this time thus entirely on the sexual organs. Although arguably somewhat disturbing the subject matter is rather interesting in the idea it explores in context with the rest of Saville”s work.What the image depicts is an existent ambiguity of sexual and corporeal identity. elaborate Sarah Lucas creates sculptures from everyday materials and objects such as food and old furniture and uses them in a provocative manner to inspire thought.

Her work explores the nature of relationships, sexuality and self esteem. She uses many of he installations to challenge social cliches, particularly to do with gender roles and sexual identification and admits to being influenced and inspired by feminist theory.In much of her work it is easy to recognise how she is challenged old-fashioned stereotypes of gender and class. Lucas”s work has been said to often make its point by going out of its way to simply undermine men with her tabloid pin-ups, beer cans and fags.

“If I look at the Sport I seem to be able to think it”s a bit gruesome – more so on some days than others – and also it”s quite funny,” Sarah Lucas, to critic Matthew Collings. The principal theme of Lucas” work is the confrontation of traditional female roles.She explores the ambiguities in her own attitudes and those of others towards sexual objectification and desire. One of the ways she does this is by making physical and literal representations of vernacular terms for bodies, focusing, in particular, on sexual body parts and their connection to foods.

Fried eggs several times feature as breasts, in “Got a Salmon On” 1997 Lucas stands outside a public toilet, a salmon resting from her shoulder to below her waist, a pun on the idea of a female erection. Like Eating a Banana and Lucas”s film, Sausage Film 1990, satirises traditional female roles in pornography. Chicken Knickers” is an image of the artist wearing a pair of white knickers attached with a chicken, its rear orifice in roughly the position of her vulva.Sculptures such as Two Fried Eggs and a Kebab 1992 Saatchi Collection, London and Bitch 1994 Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam present fried eggs and melons as breasts, kebab and kipper as labia.

Au Naturel 1994 Saatchi Collection, London puns on the traditional still-life “nature morte” with the idea of a naked couple in bed, by placing objects representing male a cucumber and a pair of oranges and female two melons and a bucket elements on an old mattress.In her photographic self-portraits Lucas has appeared with fried eggs on her breasts, with a large fish over her shoulder and eating a banana as a phallic substitute. She has said: I was quite a tomboy when I was growing up, I liked hanging out with a lot of boys, and I sort of got used to their way of talking about sex. And at the same time as thinking it was funny, I suppose I was a bit aware that it also applied to me, and I”ve always had those two attitudes.

I did enjoy it – but at the same time I must have shuddered inwardly, I think.Quoted by Barber, p. 16. Sod you Gits” is a photocopy of a double page spread found in a UK tabloid.

It features a midget stripper showing off her success. Her story however is phrased as if it is some circus sideshow. “Two Fried Eggs and a kebab” is another one of Lucas” well-known works. Again she uses food as a substitute for human genitalia.

Lucas even creates own character”s in her work. This woman has nothing to offer but what lies on the table. Her face is a photographic replica of her body. She is “vacant cheap sex” , “an object for public use” and a “wasted victim of borderline violence.

Cite this Post-Modernism and the Feminist Influence

Post-Modernism and the Feminist Influence. (2018, Jun 07). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/post-modernism-and-the-feminist-influence/

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