Modernity and Spaces of Femininity

The paper Modernity and Spaces of Femininity focuses on the article of Griselda Pollock. The article clearly represents Pollock’s feminist views. She is a credible author being a leading cultural theorist. She has done vast research on feminist issues such as those that women encounter while living and working in societies as objects of male satisfaction rather than as important subjects that gives credit to their own abilities as women. Pollock has recommended ways to change future representations of women. She has likewise provided significant insights on voyeuristic art and ties between art and human nature. She has become an activist using a Marxist-socialist approach to reveal the key sexual and political biases involved in the formation of the modernist movement. Currently, she is the Director for the Centre for Cultural Analysis, Theory and History at the University of Leeds with a Masters Degree in History of European Art and a PhD degree in the study of approaches to modernism. She is considered an academic jewel, having taught History of Art and Film in the Universities of Manchester and Leeds and an author of several books on her expertise on Art, History, Feminism and Modernism. In the article, Pollock refers mostly to paintings of renowned artists in the nineteenth century and how their work affected its viewers. She analyzed T.J. Clark’s accounts of Edoard Manet’s controversial painting, Olympia which shows a nude woman reclined on a bed with her hand covering her crotch., with a black lady, presumably her maid, standing beside the bed and a black cat seated at the foot of her bed. This painting was widely criticized when it was exposed to the public, and its analysis runs from shallow comments about its physical appearance to deeper critiques about societal representations during its time. Clark claims that Manet’s Olympia has been the founding monument of modern art3, embodying a shift in what spectators are accustomed to viewing and was subjected to a wide variety of interpretations. Pollock contends that Clark leans on the class system in analyzing modernist paintings. For him, Olympia’s nakedness in Manet’s ‘modernist’ painting depicted her as a lowly prostitute as opposed to heavily dressed, sophisticated and fashionable women in other paintings ascribed as coming from upper classes of society. Pollock also agrees with Clark that such artwork of women catered to a masculine audience since it provokes sexual titillation which is not expected of decent women viewers. This is what she meant by ‘masculinist myth of modernism’. Male artists reigned over modernism because they are able to express their sexuality through their art, which was not a luxury granted to women artists. Pollock confirms that there was a historical asymmetry in art in the nineteenth century due to social structuration of sexual differences which determined what men and women painted4. Clark indexes impressionist paintings to class formations and class identities that emerged in society, giving ‘modernity’ a wider meaning than just being up-to-date. Modernity is a matter of representations and major myths- of a new Paris for recreation, leisure and pleasure. of nature to be enjoyed at weekends in suburbia. of the prostitute taking over and of fluidity of class in the popular spaces of entertainment5 References were pointed to Charles Baudelaire’s essay about the modern artist being a flaneur or