Part I – 7 images: Formal Elements & Principles
I chose to focus on two themes, gender and identity. I feel that they are closely connected, so that is why I don’t want to just pick one. Gender ties with identity branding, which is what I focused on heavily in this assignment.
“Dyke” by Catherine Opie
(and comparison Sir Arthur Wellesley by Thomas Lawrence)
Catherine Opie was a photographer who showcased the queer community in her work. She created portraits parodying classical paintings done for royalty in the past. I couldn’t find a painting with an equally embellished background but I wasn’t sure where exactly to look. However the elements and principles of both of the pieces are similar. By creating these portraits with marginalized members of society, she brings attention to that inequality. I chose this image because it relates to sexuality and queer rights/oppression.
“What Big Muscles You Have!” by Barbara Kruger
Barbara Kruger’s work focuses on womanhood, sexism, and toxic masculinity. In this piece she’s commenting on men’s need to be the epitome of masculinity and the pressure put on women to reinforce that idea. These are the roles that society created and enforces for men and women. I chose this piece because it relates to gender identity.
“Rituals” by Noorann Matties
Noorann Matties created this series to show the intimacy of beauty routines due to interacting directly with one’s insecurities. It relates to the theme of gender identity because this is coded as a feminine activity.
“Topiary” by Louise Bourgeois
A lot of Bourgeois’s pieces are about motherhood so I assume this piece is about fertility. Topiaries are living and growing things, along with being made for aesthetic purposes/decoration/consumption. I feel this piece is about objectification of women used as decoration and consumption as well as the expectation for women to become mothers. This relates to the theme of gender identity and society’s roles for women.
Spiral Woman (Drawing) by Louise Bourgeois
There are multiple iterations of “Spiral Woman” in Bourgeois’s work, many of them in varying mediums. Foregoing context, I assumed it was about the “hourglass figure” as well as another commentary on women’s societal roles due to the drawing being on a piece of lace. I did further research to understand the autobiographical context for the pieces. In an interview, she said “It is a twist. As a child, after washing tapestries in the river, I would turn and twist and ring them. . . Later I would dream of my father’s mistress. I would do it in my dreams by ringing her neck. The spiral – I love the spiral – represents control and freedom.” Fabric – Cheim & Read
Streets of NYC No. 1 and No. 2
( and Adidas and Prada ad)
Clothing is one of the most important and obvious forms of self expression. This is impacted by gender presentation and personal preference. Gender presentation and clothing relate to how individuals choose to brand themselves.
I took this photo of my friend, wearing both latex heels and Adidas sweatpants. This is playing with gender stereotypes- sportswear is seen as a very masculine thing, and you don’t traditionally see them paired with something like latex heels. Advertisements for heels and shoes always portray women wearing them. However sportswear advertisements are recently becoming more inclusive.