The SAARTJIE Guide to Neglected Histories: The Male-artist

The Female-artist has been seen as the exploited in the history of art, but an antithesis to our understanding of the Female-artist in Art History has raised new ways of seeing the phenomena, as the Artist is locked into specific time-based events. Historically, the female manipulated Male Art to the extent that the underlying content of the Male-artist’s Art was undermined, so much so that the artist of today needs to be unqualified as a Male-artist.

The Male-artist throughout Western history has been the conveyer of the woman-artist’s perception of herself. The content and context of Western art has always been the women – the Female-‘artist’ has conceived and realised the concepts of her own image, and used the Male-artist to convey the meaning of her self-perceptions. Recently, the question arose as to the role of the Male-artist in history other than that of slave to the Female-artist’s perceptions of her feminine selves. The histories of the Male-artist therefore need to be re-discovered outside the framework of these Female-artists’ manipulations and re-contextualised in the context of the female-as-message-conveyer through men. In other words, this female dominated ‘canon’ within art theory needs to be reassessed in terms of a more inclusive and equal un-understanding of the Male artist as a captive of female societal pressures. The Female not only recognised her true selves, i.e. to be presented by the Male Artist (it is so much easier; than to represent) but also the male’s weakness in the presence of illusionary power, and this led to his enslavement..

The role of the female within artworks needs to be revisited in order to balance her authority as the speaker within the speaker-interpreter relationship. For centuries, Male-artists have been limited in their artworks to the forms of the female physique. The Female-artist, as male-manipulator, has been able to re-invent female images of ego-fulfilment through men. The Female-artist has been able to project images that castrate independent meaning and at the same time project the female self-image – an image that can only be recreated in artistic terms. Female-artists have also managed to avoid the limiting effects of art education, and thereby, making it easier to control the arts with the object of redefining the Male-artist’s boundaries and views of the female physique. Hence, the Female-artist is usually concerned with the more important tasks of re-interpreting the created images of the manipulated male artist and so re-inventing meanings.

The idea of the Male-artist-slave to Female-artist-creator has somewhat changed in the 20th century with the development of Commercial art forms and the introduction of fashion photography. These and other new forms of image making have lead the Female-artist in a new direction – a direction that has resulted in the reduction of the significance of the Fine Arts. The Fine Arts in this century has become an inadequate form of expression of the female self-image, hence, these Art forms have become as marginalised as primitive Art forms in the 18th and 19th centuries.



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