One of the things I love about my job is the assumption that is made about me as a woman who paints nudes.
I’m a slut,
I’m desperate for a new male model (despite my largely female portfolio)
That I need pictures of men I don’t know sending me photos of themselves and their junk.
Did I say love? Yeah, I mean hate.
Because I am a woman and I paint nudes a certain association is made in the minds of certain people. And that association is neither flattering to me, to artists or to women.
I would like to clarify a few misconceptions if I can.
I do not get lady wood when I paint. Unless a paint stroke suddenly makes all the difference and then it’s more of a perfect moment of clarity, like a perfect note, than anything sexual.
I do not paint men often because I find them less artistically inspiring as a rule, not because I lack models. My poor husband is dragged into the studio quite a lot to be a model (of any gender- I usually need a muscle or skin reference or a quick idea), and it is not sexy or glamorous for him.
This assumption, however, extends beyond complete strangers and their junk (which I am largely ambivalous about). It goes to the heart of acceptance for women in the arts, especially in a male dominated genre. It goes to the heart of Indecencies whispered in my ear by male gallery owners in the past and outright offers made to my person. Now I am not above loving a bit of flattery, I certainly don’t mind a bit of saucy banter. But I draw the line at my career being defined by my willingness to hop in bed with gallery owners. I know other female artists who have had the same issues, some quite famous. And it doesn’t end with artists. Women in male dominated industries are often put on the spot. If she is sexual and sensual and not afraid to show it she is a slut. If she turns down a colleague she’s frigid. No mention is made of her work ability.
I had a job once where I finally became open about my sexuality to some of my workmates. A week later I was fired for no reason. (i owned that job- but i wasn’t too upset.. That was the one where the ceo preferred account managers to be female and pretty to win over clients better. He resented that I had a mind. I resented him. And his ridiculous Innapropriate overuse of whom) Another job where I bridled at all the sexual innuendo and harassment from a boss and finally outright turned him down I was fired. You may infer from all this that I was not cut out for an office job. But that shouldn’t be the point. A woman should not be afraid to be herself at her place of work. And I certainly have worked in some wonderful offices as well where I was not harassed at all.
one day we will all just be people working at our jobs. it won’t matter what gender we are, or our sexuality, or our color, our physical or intellectual impairments or age. we will be people.
but today is not that day sadly.
Putin’s delightful regime of censorship and despotism is no longer content with targeting our brothers and sisters in the GLBTI community and is now striking out at artists. especially artists that are expressing their displeasure at Putin’s tyranny. one artist depicted Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in lingerie. the artworks were seized by police, the museum has been forced to shut it’s doors and the artist, Constantin Altunin, has fled to France seeking Asylum. He fears for his life. The other piece, by artist Vera Donskaya-Khilko, shows Putin and Obama in a standoff with enormous erections.
In an email to The Huffington Post, Donskaya-Khilko explained some of the controversial imagery contained within the painting. “Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin are in a significant fight,” she described. Putin is positioned next to a gas mask and fuel container, referencing his country’s natural resources, wearing a traditional bearskin hat and fox tails. Obama is painted in front of a small Statue of Liberty and a staff of dollar bills with liberty bells hanging below his waist.
According to Donskaya-Khilko, the multi-colored dragons represent the Chinese people.
but what I find more distressing than all of this (and believe me I find this mind numbingly depressing) is the statement from the museum owner, Alexander Donskoi, of this second raid.
“I do not understand why it’s necessary to mix arts and politics?”
Really? so you run a museum and have no idea what art is or what it’s about? art is about humanity. it’s about how we perceive things, how we do things, the changes we make and the human condition. politics is a part of humanity, of course it is necessary to address it in art. it’s as natural to touch on politics as it is to depict the human form or to try to show how our minds work. politics in art have an extremely long standing history, almost as old as depicting humans and animals- and political protest in art has almost as long a history. and no, they aren’t usually flattering, because human dissatisfaction with totalitarian regimes is as old as time.
Demand the return of my paintings stolen from the Museum authorities organized criminal group headed by a deputy Milonova consisting of government officials, law enforcement officers and persons unknown to me.
I ask to lift censorship in art, because in my position can be any citizen of Russia,
wants to create freely and express their opinions.
Konstantin Altunin “
Every artist should have the freedom to express their opinions and use their skills to make people think. this is how growth is achieved, this is how new thought is born. The seizure of these artworks cannot qualify under the ridiculous Gay Propaganda law in Russia as that is about targeting minors, neither of these were in a position where minors may see them. this is just a cracking down on anything that Putin finds mildly uncomfortable. well, well done Putin, because yet again you have managed to prove my eternal point about censorship. censorship is the best way to shine a light on the very thing you are trying to cover up.
Her photographs, in which she poses naked with food strategically positioned, are being used to promote this year’s Paris Design Week.
Mr Key said he knew his daughter was working on the self portraits, and said he was not surprised by the images.
One of the images shows Ms Key naked with sushi on her breasts and an octopus over her groin.
In another she poses with burger buns covering her breasts.
“I told her to eat her food not play with it. But oh well she’s got sushi all over her,” he joked.
Mr Key said his daughter was “doing incredibly well”, and that the images were part of the brief for the work that she was doing at school in Paris.
He told TV ONE’s Breakfast that he and his family were “really proud of her”.
International media have labelled the pictures “provocative”, “a bit strange”, and the UK’s Daily Mail said they were “raunchy” and a “bizarre erotic photoshoot”.
Mr Key brushed off the comments, saying “that’s the Daily Mail for you”.
I really approve of New Zealand Prime Minister John Key’s reaction to his Daughter’s photoshoot. He sent her to one of the best art schools in the world, the Paris College of Art, and is then thrilled to see that she is using her tuition to create the art she wants to create. His comments were not those of a politician, carefully primed and written, heading off a crisis or a threat to his career as some sources have implied, his words are those of a proud dad. not an embarrassed dad, but an encouraging and supportive one.
well done sir!
I am saddened, however, by some of the vitriol I’ve read from artists about Stephanie Key and her nude works. many of them are along the lines of why her and not me? just because her dad can afford to send her to a fancy college, my work is so much better, I’ve seen high school students do better.. for shame! support your fellow artists. it takes courage to have photographs of yourself nude online. it takes courage to create art, especially if you are already in the public eye and you don’t know what the reaction will be. it takes courage and fortitude to be an artist. whether you like their work or not, don’t condemn them – especially publicly. it doesn’t make your artwork look better, it makes you look petty and mean.
I like this piece, there is something arrestingly beautiful and sad about her face and pose. I find it compelling. and before you ask, I couldn’t find an uncensored version. if you know where one is I’ll link to it instead. I’m really impressed that she has been chosen to represent her school, and that she has worked so hard creating something she wanted to make probably knowing it would be controversial, and that her father has supported her in her work.
In other studies, testosterone seemed to provide “winning streaks” that often occurred about ten in the morning. Funnily, I’ve always noted this is a hot hour for my painting, but I never thought to connect it with hormones.
Of further interest, male brokers took more risks and traded more often than their female associates. It was also the men who got into the most trouble–witness infamous stock traders like Bernie Madoff and the London Whale. As well as further courage being generated after periods of successful trading, men became the most daring after having had a string of losses. Heeding this last observation, some big firms are temporarily suspending brokers’ licenses after they sustain 3% in losses.
Another interesting finding in these studies was that women brokers did just as well for their clients as male brokers. They also traded less often and were apparently more cautious and thoughtful. Women brokers didn’t appear to have those knee-jerk reactions that some researchers think are spurred by testosterone. Women were also more inclined to take advice from advisors and experts. I’m not sure, but I don’t think there are any female felons in the investment world. I may be naïve and gravely limited in my research, but I also know of no female felons in the art world.
via The winner effect. Robert Genn
I think there is a lot in this that is representative of the art world at large. female artists often seem to take the slow and steady wins the race approach, and male artists are often more gung-ho. (autocorrect changed that to hung-ho and I was torn for a moment about changing it, it seems incredibly apt.) often both genders do just as well as each other, but that testosterone fuelled approach may be what endears male artists to more galleries and museums. just as it does in the corporate world.
Then Cummings asked for a list of words associated with being a male leader. Strong, arrogant, intelligent, ego-driven, bravado, powerful, dominant, assertive, single tasking, focused, competitive, stubborn, physical, self-righteous and direct made the list. One woman marveled at the way men are capable of having an argument at work, then go out for a beer together as if nothing had ever happened. “Women hold a grudge,” she said. “Men are passive-aggressive,” countered another. “They sit in the bushes and wait.” “Men have a sense of entitlement,” said yet another executive. “It’s a given that they will be successful.”
I find it interesting that oftentimes those descriptive words are often used in a negative context when describing women. I think it’s that sense of entitlement that is the key. Men are empowered with it as boys and are encouraged to go out and get what they want. girls are taught to be more supportive, to look after others needs first before their own (Interesting geek note – In gaming women are more likely to be healers than tanks). I think both are great traits and both should be encouraged equally. we should all learn to support and be supported, to dream and set goals and go after them. but this is where the disparity happens again, women frequently dream and set goals but talk themselves out of going after them. Then sometimes we break free of our earliest training, of our own fears and doubts and pursue our goals… only to be turned back by others’ archaic views.
we need to change this. we need more women artists to stand up and go after their dreams. it may be that the museums are not getting the choices, that galleries would like to represent more women but we are holding ourselves back!
Are we our own worst enemies?
Many times I’ve seen it written in online arenas. the introduction. “Hi, I’m a mother and an artist”- you can almost hear the pause that follows after “mother.” the pause that says that a mother is who they are first and foremost. and in that introduction, whether intended or not, the “artist” part ends up sounding like a hobby.
Many galleries and museums are taking women less seriously for this very reason. the thought that we will lose everything once we become parents. that women, especially, will subsume ourselves into our offspring. And this is the concern Most women face in many jobs. Will she have a child? will she leave us? Will she be distracted or called away? Should we keep her in a non critical role to protect against this eventuality? this disparity never seems to extend to the fathers. there are more fathers than mothers in the museums, surely some of them were primary caregivers…
It was always planned that I would be the parent to go work, I had the better paying job and the career path. I may not have the salary anymore, but I am still the parent with a day job. my job is being an artist. I’ve met many successful artists who are also mothers, and many women who have given up their art in favor of their children. and if they choose to make art a hobby that is great! if they want to be a stay at home mom that is fantastic, a stay at home parent is a great gift for your children. I consider Erica fortunate because she has both of us at home. my studio is based here. but don’t let that fool you, I have a lock on my door and a firm understanding that when I am working I am not to be disturbed (unless there is a severed limb involved…).
I am a mother, I love my little girl with every fiber of my being. when I stop for the day I spend time with her, when I am in the studio I miss her. but I also have a career.
I introduce myself as an artist. it’s more than what I do, it’s who I am.
but will all the drive in the world make up for the fact that I am also a mother? even if I am not the primary caregiver? I guess that’s up to the museums.
I read something recently that has made me start thinking again about the disparity of women in museums and galleries. This is a very real issue when over 50% of artists are female but less than 2% of the works in museums are by women.
I was reading tips for artists and came across a recommendation that female artists sign their last names or first initial rather than reveal their gender. Allow the buyer or the gallery to get involved with the work before they knew the gender of the artist. It used to be a common practice by women writers and artists to sign their names to hide their genders, but this was a recently published book.
Is this still a practice? Is it a desirable one? On one hand, I believe gender shouldn’t influence our decisions and opinions, but on the other I know that gender sometimes informs our work as artists. Should we take that away? Should we all (men and women) stop proclaiming our gender on our work and enable the collector to look without knowing, or should we proudly stand up and say I AM WOMAN!
I do know that we won’t make it farther as women in the arts by hiding our genders. We may make more individual sales, but we can’t change the numbers if we don’t participate in them. It strikes me as duplicitous and wrong to hide our genders to make sales. We need to work together to change the game in the museums.
There is an ugliness seeping through the high end of the art world. Something we all know about but have yet to change. Something that needs to be fixed.
What does it mean when only 2% of artists represented in top galleries and museums are female? Why are women such a minority in the high stakes art world? is it entirely run by men? Or are we, as women, doing ourselves a disservice by not being as forward as many male artists?
I know one of the dreams that keeps me going is the thought of immortality, that my art will live on. But will it? Chances are, unless we change things, no it won’t. i’ve read a lot about the male gaze, and the relationships women have with their art. Women seem to get more attached to their works, they possibly put more emotion in their pieces and therefore end up emotionally invested. Is it harder to let go? Do male curators and directors look at this emotional investment as being a detriment? Women artists are often seen as struggling, their tribulations are celebrated. But it appears that successful, strong women may not be as well received.
Over 50% of working artists today are female. This is wonderful! And more and more are being celebrated all the time. I believe we are at a juncture to be able to change that 2% and tip the scales in favor of equality.
Not all artists are concerned with the pursuit of art. not all artists toil away nobly trying to get the world to see the beauty around them. some artists are in it for the money, or for the fame or sometimes, thankfully rarely, for the nekkid people. and some artists are just scumbags.
“one of the world’s greatest painters” (self proclaimed) has fallen from his lofty perch. Graham Ovenden has faced legal prosecution on a number of occasions but has now been convicted of six charges of indecency with a child and one of indecent assault. The different news stories on this subject are very disparate. in my research I’ve seen everything from vitriol against the art world to Victim blaming. it’s hard to separate the facts from the spin in this case but we do know that the victims were former models from between 1972 and 1985. Some articles are questioning their taking time to come forward which is reprehensible. it takes courage to come forward about abuse, it can take a very long time to come to the point where abuse can be admitted. I applaud them for confronting their abuser (who was not there for the conviction). he was also accused of having child pornographic images on his computer, images he accused the police of falsifying.
Much of Ovenden’s work from the time was inspired by the controversial novel Lolita. Some contain titles like “Lolita Seductive” or “Maxwell’s Angel Whores”. His work has also been found in the collections of noted paedophiles. The Tate gallery has removed his images from their walls and website following the jury’s verdict. His partially clad photographs in particular are incredibly hard to view.
Ovenden has yet to be sentenced.
Bill Henson is in the news again, this time for his controversial thoughts on the risks associated with Arts, Sports and the Church. In a recent interview with the Australian, Henson stated that when searching for high risk areas to children that “The last place you would start with would be the arts.” and that the highest risk areas were the church and sports.
I am amazed that this is even a question. of course sports are higher risk! ask any teen where their injuries came from and they will proudly tell you which sport and what they were doing. I had my nose broken while playing hockey. and let us not forget that massive den of Injuries, women’s netball.
Of course an archbishop of the catholic church has officially gone on record saying that “I don’t think we did anything wrong.”, and naturally we are going to believe him.
Robert Nelson, Art Critic and Father of Olympia Nelson Has commented on this article.
He said risk should be calculated by the severity of the injury multiplied by the chance of it occurring.
”When your kid goes off onto the sports field, it’s a very competitive and actually kind of nasty situation where one kid is really trying to push the other out of the way,” he said.
”And it’s a pretty high chance that something nasty will happen sooner or later.”
Robert Nelson said there was a risk of paralysis associated with sport, and while there were also risks that needed to be considered with art, they were tiny in comparison.
”There is some risk always that the kid will not be happy with the image. You can’t really guarantee that the kid will be, but there’s a very high chance the kid will be proud of it,” he said.
”How we know that, we kind of just don’t see examples of kids or adults complaining about having been traumatised by their picture.
”With risk, you can never completely eliminate it, that’s for sure. But it’s a tiny, tiny risk. And the chances meanwhile of something wonderful happening are quite high.”
As they say, there are risks to everything, and everything needs to be taken into account, but I would feel less concerned about my child experimenting with art than with priests or hockey sticks!
No doubt some bright spark is going to form the argument that Sports are very important for a child’s development. yes, they are fantastic for building coordination, fitness, team spirit and all that. I think everyone should have some sport in their lives. and everyone should have some art in their lives. art is critical for building creativity, free thought, cognitive thinking, hand eye coordination, lateral thinking and so much more. and it is something that keeps giving, long after you’ve blown your knee playing football.