The Male Gaze

Xochiquetzal - 36x48 Oils on Canvas

Xochiquetzal – 36×48 Oils on Canvas

During one of my exhibitions, the gallery owner (whom I had not previously met) told me he was surprised when he saw my work – that he assumed it had been painted by a man. he went on at length about how I have a very ‘male gaze’, painting women who look like they could be in playboy or pinups. he informed me that women generally paint ‘fat chicks’ or uglier, darker pieces rather than pretty women. but that it was nice to see me (as a woman) painting something so very male and sexy, that I had a male appreciation for curves and women and it was refreshing.

talk about backhanded compliments.

I think he honestly believed he was bestowing a great honor upon me. that the goal of every female artist should be to be like a male one. and this is not a unique experience from what I have heard. many artists I know have been told that they paint ‘like a man’ or ‘almost as well as a man’ or should ‘paint more like a man’.

what does that mean? are men inherently better painters? do they see something we don’t? does my bisexuality inform this apparently more ‘male gaze’?

I hear from many woman about how empowering my paintings are and how feminine. sensual without being sexy, strong and proud of femininity. I guess you get out of art what you put in- pity that gallerist was so shallow.

oh and the most expensive ‘fat chick’ painting ever sold was painted by a man. just saying.

One thought on “The Male Gaze

  1. Ironically I’ve been told (also a backhanded compliment) that I paint my nudes in a very feminine assessable style. Personally i just paint the way I like. I have noticed though that far more women buy my nudes than men do. I don’ know what that says about how i see women, or how i paint. It probably all just in the eye of the beholder, and if they want to see my style as male or female, as long as they enjoy them it hardly matters. But I wonder why they need to assign gender to a painting style, since it is perfectly clear that it isn’t true since both of us break what ever stereotype we have pinned on us, and I imagine many other artist do as well.

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