Fine Art

‘The Female Gaze, Part Two: Women Look at Men’

1Image 1 – Dillon: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by Grace Graupe-Pillard

We all know what The Male Gaze has come to mean, and how, more often than not, it reduces women to their value—aesthetic, sexual, political, economic—in men’s eyes.

For centuries, the male gaze has dominated how women have been depicted in art. Without our being aware of it, as this exhibition and its 2009 predecessor, “The Female Gaze: Women Look at Women,” emphasize, “In a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female. The determining male gaze projects its fantasy on to the female form which is styled accordingly.”

The Chaim & Read gallery in New York City now reverses that age-old imbalance with its group exhibition: “The Female Gaze, Part Two: Women Look at Men.” Curated by John Cheim, this is an exhibition of the work of 32 prominent women artists, ranging from Berenice Abbott,  Diane Arbus, and Louise Bourgeois to Alice Neel, Catherine Opie and Cindy Sherman.

2Image 2-  Anonymous: Modesto, by Katy Grannon


3Image 3 – Paul Rosano in Jacobsen Chair,  by Sylvia Sleigh

Yet, for all of the “big names” in the exhibition, I found the work of less well-known artists, like Grace Graupe-Pillard, Katy Grannon, and Sylvia Sleigh, more appealing. Perhaps because they were subtler, as thinkers and painters, than those who focused mainly on erect cocks.  

4 Image 4 – Male Figure, by Louise Bourgeois


5Image 5 – Untitled, by Cindy Sherman

I appreciate subtlety and surprise, and nothing surprised me more than Cindy Sherman’s weird and gripping image of a grotesquely proportioned hairy male body topped by what looks like a male mannequin head.

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  • Grace Graupe-Pillard July 1, 2016 at 8:23 am

    Thank you so much for including my work in your article. VERY much appreciated.