More than muses: A feminist guide to art history
Do women have to be naked to get into a national gallery? The Guerrilla Girls put this question to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1989 via their iconic poster proclaiming that ‘less than 5% of the artists in the modern art sections are women, but 85% of the nudes are female.’
Find out how women have broken into and reshaped the ‘boys’ club’ art establishment; whether the female nude can survive #MeToo; and how women leaders are redressing the balance when it comes to the representation of women artists.
This course explores the work of women artists, patrons, collectors, art writers, and leaders in the arts. It considers how women have represented themselves in paintings, the challenges women artists grapple with, and how feminism has opened up an alternative history of art.
On this course you will hear from Gallery experts and some feisty guest speakers. Expect their provocative talks to get you thinking, even if you take a different view.
Module two: Women on canvas
Week one: 3 May 2019
Tutor: Penny Huntsman
From goddesses to witches, and from virgins to temptresses, how have women been represented in art? Do male and female artists represent women differently?
After the break, Penny Huntsman considers how Artemisia Gentileschi’s ‘Judith beheading Holofernes’ differs from versions painted by her male contemporaries? To what extent should her rape inform the way we read this painting?
Week two: 10 May 2019
A picture of motherhood
Tutor: Katy Tarbard and Belle Smith
How have male and female artists depicted motherhood? And how have women artists perceived the impact of motherhood on the art they produce?
After the break, Belle Smith discusses the art of Berthe Morisot, who defied the social norms of her time to join the Parisian avant-garde. She depicted scenes of motherhood and private, intimate moments of women's lives.
Week three: 17 May 2019
Seeing ourselves: Women’s self portraits
Tutor: Francesca Whitlam-Cooper and Letizia Treves
Curator Letizia Treves discusses the National Gallery’s recent acquisition of Artemisia Gentileschi's Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria.
Week four: Wednesday 22 May 2019
The female nude
Many male artists have felt the urge to paint the female nude! Belle Smith discusses some iconic representations of the female nude by male and female artists. She explores how contemporary female artists such as Jenny Saville and Cornelia Parker have challenged the ideal of the female nude, in paintings that are personal, brave, iconic, raw or erotic.
After the break, Christina Bradstreet discusses Degas’s representation of women in the context of 19th-century ideas of gender and race.
Week five: 31 May 2019
Can the female nude survive #MeToo?
Can women artists escape the legacy of the ‘male gaze’ in their depictions of other women? What are the power dynamics in paintings by women of men? We consider ‘the female gaze’.
After the break curator Clare Gannaway joins Deborah Cherry to reflect on an intervention at Manchester City Art Gallery by artist Sonia Boyce, in which Waterhouse’s ‘Hylas and the Nymphs’ was removed from display to provoke conversation.
Women in the picture is Module two of our three-module course ‘More than muses: A feminist guide to art history’.