art

Catherine McCormack on “Women in the Picture,” art history – Los Angeles Times

Summary

On the Shelf

Women in the Picture: What Culture Does With Female Bodies

By Catherine McCormackNorton: 240 pages, $23

If you buy books linked on our site, The Times may earn a commission from Bookshop.org, whose fees support independent bookstores.

Catherine McCormack and I had long been commenting on each other’s Instagr…….

npressfetimg-1979.png

On the Shelf

Women in the Picture: What Culture Does With Female Bodies

By Catherine McCormack
Norton: 240 pages, $23

If you buy books linked on our site, The Times may earn a commission from Bookshop.org, whose fees support independent bookstores.

Catherine McCormack and I had long been commenting on each other’s Instagram posts about feminist art when we finally decided it was time to sit down and have a Zoom meeting. She is a course director of the women and art study program at Sotheby’s London, and the occasion was the publication of her new book, “Women in the Picture: What Culture Does With Female Bodies.” The chaos of three time zones and daylight saving couldn’t stop us from deconstructing the lens of art history, which, McCormack argues, wants to confine women to four categories: Venuses, mothers, damsels or monsters. The misogyny, she writes, is so pervasive that we simply can’t see it anymore. “Women in the Picture’s” work is to help us regain our vision. Our conversation has been edited.

What made you want to write an entire book about women in art? What was the straw that broke the camel’s back?

The catalyst was personal and professional. I was a grad student at the time. I got pregnant, and I noticed immediately that I was treated differently in the eyes of the academic department. It felt like I had been spoiled for this great career success. All these things, in the sense of the personal becoming physical, started to enter my thinking.

It was the same for me. When my son was born, as a freelancer, I had no prescribed leave. Everything difficult about trying to make a creative career was amplified by motherhood. But female artists — mothers or not — have always faced systemic obstacles. I don’t think many people realize this.

In the U.K., it wasn’t until 1768 that there was an academy of art, and two women were among the founding members. But there wasn’t another woman fully elected until the 1930s, and that hiatus — it’s really a chasm — stops women participating in cultural production. We can only assume that this was because women posed a threat to the patriarchal system, representing women as a means to police their behavior. This is not a conspiracy theory; it is an objective truth.

Art historian Catherine McCormack calls for a more feminist gaze in “Women in the Picture.”

( Catherine McCormack)

It’s similar to the medical profession. There was this determination to keep women from knowing their own bodies and having the means to represent their vision of themselves, their perspective on life and their perspective of male bodies. There was a real paranoia about women getting to look at naked male bodies in the …….

Source: https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/books/story/2021-11-18/its-high-time-to-put-women-in-the-picture-an-art-historian-argues