Germaine Greer Attacks Women Artists

Turmoil - 12 x 12 Oils on Canvas

Turmoil – 12 x 12 Oils on Canvas by Jennie Rosenbaum

Why does Jenny Saville deconstruct her own body? Why can’t she use someone else’s? There is a possible answer, which is that the use of the nude is necessarily exploitative, and therefore a female artist who needs to use a body has no option but to use her own, but surely it can be no more than a sophistry. Why does a female artist need to use flesh in the first place?

The feminist art historian can no more ask these questions than she can ask why most women’s art is no good. Her duty is to cry up women’s work, to see it as reactive and transgressive, as dislocating tradition indeed, when the painterly tradition is always being jolted and set off on contradictory tangents, more often and more fundamentally by men than by women. The woman who displays her own body as her artwork seems to me to be travelling in the tracks of an outworn tradition that spirals downward and inward to nothingness.…Read More

Germaine Greer is someone for whom I used to have respect. Having read this article I can now say that is no longer so. This article is not only narrow minded it is also woefully ignorant of art history, art practice and any form of understanding of the artist’s mind. She abandons her previous ideals of feminism to attack all female art and the exploration that many of us undertake to discover our selves and our connections with our own bodies. This from a woman recently voted FHM’s woman of the year who has posed nude or scantily clad on a number of occasions.

There are several points to make refuting these arguments, points which didn’t even seem to be considered when writing this article. I am actually so angry that I am going to have to put them in different posts – just so I can clear the steam from my eyes.

Women are neither the first, nor the only gender to explore their selves through self portraits and nude poses. From the idealized portraits of Albrecht Durer to the self indulgent photographs of Mappelthorpe, I believe male artists still hold the majority on narcissism. I am not even going into archaeological works where male narcissism and idealism ran rampant. it has been only relatively recently that women artists have had the independence and the freedom to explore themselves in this way. Whether it’s to write a book about sexual liberation or paint a nude self portrait I think it’s a wonderful thing that women are finally finding themselves able to express themselves.

I suggest reading the comments at the bottom of the post for several fascinating discourses and rants.

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One thought on “Germaine Greer Attacks Women Artists

  1. Muah! GG would be funny if people (other than herself) did not take her so seriously. 🙂 With this article, it’s like she was looking for a provocative subject she can use to wring some outrage out of her jaded public. I mean – there are so many no-brainer responses to what she has written that it’s inevitable that people will respond, thereby feeding her ego.

    I read it, then I remembered the indescribable feeling of painting my first nude self portrait at art school. I did the sketching per the mirror on the back of my bedroom door, but painted the portrait – life-sized – in the studio with my fellow painting majors. I can still feel that oddly liberating sense of vulnerability and exposure and corresponding release from stricture. “Fuck the critics!”, I thought then, more in regard to my figure than my painting style. And I laugh now and with that sense of freedom blithely say “Fuck the critics!” which seems now to include GG. Pfff!

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