On “Women Painting Women” (NSFW)

I find the artwork mentioned in an already awesome podcast on “Women Painting Women,” to help you even better enjoy it.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes. My tongue-in-cheek choice of photo by Andre Moura @Pexels. Photo by Andre Moura: https://www.pexels.com/photo/painting-woman-s-face-3991468/Photo by Andre Moura: https://www.pexels.com/photo/persons-eye-with-blue-and-orange-color-face-paint-3991469/

It’s a real chore sometimes, attempting to sound smart through posting original content.

Much better then, to deceive by association, by letting you know about any intelligent-sounding books, podcasts, and films I encounter.

The problem with that method however, is that too ultimately entails actually engaging with new material. Otherwise, the very next stranger I try to impress may challenge my recommendations, embarrassing me in front of the entire cocktail party. There’s also the small matter of providing genuinely useful information to my readers too, as well as not wasting their time.

But when it’s worth the time investment, it’s worth it. So, without any further ado, allow me to present a recent podcast interview of Andrea Karnes, Chief Curator at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, about her ongoing exhibition there (and accompanying book) titled Women Painting Women. As interviewer Dan Hill of EQ Spotlight explains:

The book documents a wide-ranging exhibit inclusive of women as both the makers and subjects of paintings. The artists hail from around the world, and over the past half-century. Our conversation took several directions. One was to discuss the power of the gaze; who’s looking, who’s being seen, and the poses evident more a matter of self-agency or passivity. Another angle was the body itself, with these female images being more realistic and often far less glamorous than commercial popular culture allows for. Third, what subject matter tropes are being overturned – from Christianity to pornography, and points in between. As the exhibit strived to accomplish, there should be something here for everyone – women especially.

It’s a genuinely enjoyable and informative interview, critically engaging with the (evil, objectifying, brutish) male gaze and (sweet, butterflies and puppies, emotionally-based) female gaze while also being refreshingly absent of jargon and dogma. It’s only a very doable 30 minutes in length too, unlike most other New Books Network interviews.

And yet, the subject is art. While it remains entirely possible to enjoy and learn a great deal from the interview as is, it was frustrating not being able to see the art being discussed as I listened (some of which, jumping ahead, was very different to how I’d imagined it). The book is priced a little prohibitively for me too, let alone a plane ticket to Texas.

So, for your sake and mine, I’ve collected all of the artworks mentioned in the interview below in order when they’re mentioned, for you to follow along as you listen yourself. Being very wary of avoiding potential copyright claims though, I can only allow myself to post these small thumbnails sorry. But, if you do click on those, they’ll take you to far bigger versions, many of which are located in equally interesting articles about the artist and/or exhibition. Enjoy!

(7:50-8:30) “A Precious Blessing with a Poodle Up-doo,” 2019, by Somaya Critchlow (right).

Preceded by a discussion from 6:40 on the central importance of the subject meeting the viewer’s gaze instead of looking away (although I disagree with Andrea Karnes that the pink wig hiding her eyes doesn’t significantly diminish it in this piece). See also the recently published “Photographer Renée Jacobs Sees Her Female Nudes As Activism” (NSFW) at AnOther, for Jacob’s argument that “terms such as male gaze and female gaze are fraught. If it was up to me, I would replace them with the empowered gaze and disempowered gaze” (italics in original), as well as “The Painter [Joan Semmel] Who Directed Her Resolute Gaze at Herself” at HyperAllergic.

(8:30-9:30) “A Little Taste Outside of Love,” 2007, by Mickalene Thomas (left).

A connection not mentioned in the interview, now that I can see the work for myself it’s obvious it’s channeling—indeed, challenging—Amedeo Modigliani’s “Nu couché (sur le côté gauche).”

(9:30-11:20) “Self-Portrait Naked with My Mother II,” 2020, by Chantal Joffe (right).

(12:55-17:30) “Strategy (North Face, Front Face, South Face),”1994, by Jenny Saville (left).

Please see also Dallas Voice and GlassTire for photos of the artwork at the exhibition itself, for a sense of how the artwork looms over visitors and seems to ask questions of them.

(14:35, in passing) “Pregnant Woman,” 1971, by Alice Neel (right).

Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to confirm if this is precisely the (unnamed) work referred to in the interview. However, Andrea Karnes does mention that the subject looks extremely awkward and uncomfortable in it, which is certainly the case here!

(17:30-20:20) “The Turkish Bath,” 1973, by Sylvia Sleigh (left).

Andrea Karnes acknowledges the irony and contradiction of having a painting of men in an exhibition of women by women, but includes it to highlight the restrictions on depictions of female sexuality by cishet female artists in the 1970s, who were regularly censored or had exhibitions closed down for depicting men the same way women routinely were (and still are).

(21:30-22:20) “Yellow Studio,” 2021, by Lisa Yuskavage (right).

Again, my apologies for being unable to confirm if this is the (unnamed) work referred to.

(22:20-23:50) “Yayoi,” 2021, by Christiane Lyons (left).

Named for the Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama.

(23:50-26:10) “Weenie Roast Wrestlers,” 2019, by Jenna Gribbon (right).

Not going to lie—I need to fill this space to deal with some formatting issues I’m having in this post. Will doing so with a link to Gribbon’s Instagram suffice? ;)

(26:10-28:00) “Crucifixion I,” 1969, by Eunice Golden (left).

I appreciate the notion of bodies as landscapes Andrea Karnes explores in her final discussion about this piece. But for the life of me, I just can’t find the disembodied penis she mentions. Can you?

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