Sexing the Canvas: Art and Gender

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About this course: What do paintings tell us about sex? How is art gendered? In this course we will study some of the world’s most beloved pictures guided by expert curators and art historians who step outside of the square, bringing a gendered reading to the masterpieces contained in the magnificent collections that we have been lucky enough to bring to the Coursera platform. In this course you will learn how: * Gender and sexuality is an integral part of the production and reception of works of art * To increase your understanding of paintings through theories of gender and sexuality * To understand key terms from gender-related theories of art history and museology * To recognise the…

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Didn't find what you were looking for? See also: Art History, Public Speaking, Speech, Film, and Photography.

When you enroll for courses through Coursera you get to choose for a paid plan or for a free plan

  • Free plan: No certicification and/or audit only. You will have access to all course materials except graded items.
  • Paid plan: Commit to earning a Certificate—it's a trusted, shareable way to showcase your new skills.

About this course: What do paintings tell us about sex? How is art gendered? In this course we will study some of the world’s most beloved pictures guided by expert curators and art historians who step outside of the square, bringing a gendered reading to the masterpieces contained in the magnificent collections that we have been lucky enough to bring to the Coursera platform. In this course you will learn how: * Gender and sexuality is an integral part of the production and reception of works of art * To increase your understanding of paintings through theories of gender and sexuality * To understand key terms from gender-related theories of art history and museology * To recognise the operation of what is termed ‘the gaze’ and how it works in relation to paintings * Ideas about gender and sexuality can productively be employed in theorising art curatorial practices * To take the initiative in relating theoretical ideas about gender and sexuality to the reading and display of art and visual cultures. View the MOOC promotional video here: http://tinyurl.com/hm7qbl3

Created by:  The University of Melbourne
  • Taught by:  Jeanette Hoorn, Professor

    Culture and Communication
Level Beginner Language English, Subtitles: Greek How To Pass Pass all graded assignments to complete the course. User Ratings 4.5 stars Average User Rating 4.5See what learners said Coursework

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Syllabus


WEEK 1


Tiepolo’s Cleopatra



We begin this MOOC by introducing you to some of the theories about gender and sexuality that we will be calling upon throughout this course. We will look at the tradition of the representation of women in art and the operation of the 'male gaze', which renders most female subjects passive in pictures. We will focus, in this unit, on an unusual exception to this tradition, Tiepolo's Banquet of Cleopatra at the National Gallery of Victoria, in which we see Cleopatra depicted as a powerful regent. How does Tiepolo break the rules in this painting, emphasising Cleopatra’s agency? How did Tiepolo’s facility with paint work to produce this gendered narrative? And who exactly was Cleopatra?


4 videos, 5 readings expand


  1. Video: Welcome to Sexing the Canvas!
  2. Reading: Course Overview
  3. Reading: Start of Course Survey
  4. Reading: Your Teaching Team
  5. Reading: Week 1 Outline
  6. Reading: Readings
  7. Video: 1:1 Tiepolo’s Cleopatra: Agency in Paint
  8. Video: 1:2 Cleopatra: Female Pharaoh and Ruler of a Cosmopolitan World
  9. Video: 1:3 Ways of Seeing: The Power of the Gaze
  10. Discussion Prompt: Tiepolo's 'The Banquet of Cleopatra'
  11. Discussion Prompt: John Berger's Arguments About the Power of the Gaze

Graded: 1. Painting, Agency and the Gaze - This quiz contributes 11% towards your final grade

WEEK 2


The Culture of Sensibility and the ‘Man of Feeling’



This week we examine in detail Thomas Gainsborough’s much loved Portrait of an officer of the Fourth Regiment of Foot, the portrait of Richard St George Mansergh-St George in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria. Here we consider how Gainsborough produced his portrait of the young soldier through the ideals associated with the culture of sensibility, so much a part of late eighteenth century ruling class culture. How is the concept of the ‘man of feeling’ utilised in Gainsborough’s enigmatic portrait? What is the relevance of Gainsborough’s focus upon the soldier’s hound? What does the picture tell us about masculinity and the way the culture of sensibility was gendered in eighteenth century Britain?


3 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Reading: Week 2 Outline
  2. Video: 2:1 What is the Culture of Sensibility?
  3. Video: 2:2 Painting Sensibility: Gainsborough's Officer of the Fourth Regiment of Foot
  4. Video: 2:3 Gainsborough's Man of Feeling: animals, soldiers and chivalry
  5. Discussion Prompt: St George and His Concern About the Poverty of his Workers
  6. Discussion Prompt: The Role of the Dog in the Picture
  7. Discussion Prompt: The 'Man of Feeling’

Graded: 2. The Culture of Sensibility and the ‘Man of Feeling’ - This quiz contributes 11% towards your final grade

WEEK 3


Gainsborough at the Huntington



We consider five pictures by Thomas Gainsborough in week three of this course that are held in the collection of the Huntington Gallery in California, through an explication of how the artist represented his subjects in the context of the culture of sensibility. Beginning with Gainsborough’s painting of Karl Friedrich Abel, we consider how the artist produced his portrait of masculinity through references to music, science and the senses. We then move to Gainsborough’s pendant portraits of Lord and Lady Ligonier, and The Blue Boy, focussing upon boundaries of gender and sexuality, including debates around effeminacy and passion between the sexes. We conclude with the Huntington’s Cottage Door, considering how this staged scene calls the viewer to look with charity upon impoverished rural women and their children.


4 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Reading: Week 3 Outline
  2. Video: 3:1 Music and the Senses: Gainsborough’s Portrait of Karl Friedrich Abel
  3. Video: 3:2 The Ligoniers: The Tensions of Gender in Paint
  4. Video: 3:3 The Blue Boy: Effeminacy and the Culture of Sensibility
  5. Video: 3:4 Gainsborough’s Cottage Door: Charity and Sensibility
  6. Discussion Prompt: The Culture of Sensibility
  7. Discussion Prompt: Removal of the Small Dog
  8. Discussion Prompt: Compare the Portraits
  9. Discussion Prompt: The Portraits of the Ligoniers at the Huntington

Graded: 3. Gainsborough at the Huntington - This quiz contributes 11% towards your final grade

WEEK 4


Sexual Codes in Eighteenth Century French Courtly Painting



This week Jennifer Milam, Professor of Art History at the University of Sydney, reveals the sexual codes and symbols of art in eighteenth century French painting. Professor Milam uncovers the erotic references imbedded in the courtly art of François Boucher and Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Two pastoral paintings by François Boucher form the centrepiece of this discussion of the playful and provocative representation of gender in the Ancien Régime. In addition, Professor Milam provides an in depth account of how these codes operated in some famous prints and drawings of the period.


3 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Reading: Week 4 Outline
  2. Video: 4:1 Seduction in the Court of Louis XV: Boucher’s pastoral paintings
  3. Video: 4:2 Madame de Pompadour: Controlling the Gaze
  4. Video: 4:3 Fragonard: Sex and the Circulation of Popular Culture
  5. Discussion Prompt: 'Morally Degenerate'
  6. Discussion Prompt: The Representation of Male Figures
  7. Discussion Prompt: Of Love and Leisure
  8. Discussion Prompt: Eroticism and Boucher’s Paintings

Graded: 4. Sexual Codes in Eighteenth Century French Courtly Painting - This quiz contributes 11% towards your final grade

WEEK 5


Orientalism, Gender and Display - Painting in Morocco



This week Dr Caroline Wallace and I present a study of two artists working in Morocco in the early twentieth century; the British Royal Academy painter John Lavery and the Australian modernist Hilda Rix Nicholas. They examine how these artists used orientalist conventions to represent a European point of view of life in Morocco. In this unit we consider how colonialism, orientalism and gender relate to each other, impacting upon academic and modernist art in a variety of ways that are not immediately apparent. We discuss how orientalist art is gendered, investigating why Rix Nicholas’ practice has been described as counter-orientalist.


3 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Reading: Week 5 Outline
  2. Video: 5:1 John Lavery’s In Morocco: orientalism and the academy
  3. Video: 5:2 Wives and Models: Hazel Lavery and the politics of display
  4. Video: 5:3 Women in Public Space: Hilda Rix Nicholas in Morocco
  5. Discussion Prompt: Orientalism
  6. Discussion Prompt: Counter-orientalism
  7. Discussion Prompt: Visit an Art Museum

Graded: 5. Orientalism, Gender and Display - This quiz contributes 11% towards your final grade

WEEK 6


Henri Rousseau: Challenging the Myth of the Passive Woman



This week Professor Barbara Creed explores the way Henri Rousseau challenged the myth of the passive woman and relocates women as a vital source of creativity and mystery in art. In The Dream woman is represented as the new Eve living in harmony with nature in a jungle paradise, while in The Sleeping Gypsy woman is on an inner journey into the realms of the unconscious. Professor Creed explores the spiritual dimensions of this painting and offers a new and exciting interpretation of its historical significance.


2 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Reading: Week 6 Outline
  2. Video: 6:1 Henri Rousseau’s The Dream: Eve in the jungle
  3. Video: 6:2 Dreaming with Animals: Rousseau’s Sleeping Gypsy
  4. Discussion Prompt: Traditional Conventions of Female Representation
  5. Discussion Prompt: The Dream and Christianity
  6. Discussion Prompt: Who is the Female Figure?

Graded: 6. Henri Rousseau - This quiz contributes 11% towards your final grade

WEEK 7


Henri Matisse, Paul Cezanne and Max Dupain - Modernism, Gender and the Science of Movement



Scientific advances in the nineteenth and early twentieth century created new ideas about male and female bodies. In a unique reading of Henri Matisse's Dance and Paul Cezanne's The Bather, we consider how Darwinian theory and science impacted upon the work of these French modernists and how modernism itself undercut erotic codes in art. Dr Isobel Crombie, Senior Curator of Photography at the National Gallery of Victoria, interprets the representation of gender in the work of the Australian photographer Max Dupain as an expression of the twentieth century movement of vitalism.


3 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Reading: Week 7 Outline
  2. Video: 7:1 Restaging the Nude: Matisse’s Dance
  3. Video: 7:2 Cezanne’s Bather: Masculinity and Movement
  4. Video: 7:3 The Sunbaker: Australian Men on the Beach
  5. Discussion Prompt: Gender and Power
  6. Discussion Prompt: The ‘Entanglement’
  7. Discussion Prompt: Do you agree?

Graded: 7. Modernism, gender and the science of movement - This quiz contributes 11% to your final grade

WEEK 8


Frida Kahlo, Glyn Philpot and the Struggle to Paint



This week we begin by looking at Frida Kahlo’s Fulang-Chang and I as well as her Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair Canvas. These lectures on Frida Kahlo's pictures at MOMA finish with a discussion between myself and Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor Barbara Creed in which we consider WJT Mitchell 's famous question 'what do pictures want? This is followed by a video on Glyn Philpot’s Oedipus presented by Dr Ted Gott, Senior Curator of International Art at the National Gallery of Victoria.


3 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Reading: Week 8 Outline
  2. Video: 8:1 Woman and Animal: Frida Kahlo’s Fulang-Chang and I
  3. Video: 8:2 Queering the Canvas: Frida Kahlo’s retablo
  4. Video: 8:3 Myth and Sexuality: Glyn Philpot’s Oedipus
  5. Discussion Prompt: Discuss Philpot’s Oedipus
  6. Discussion Prompt: Philpot’s Sexuality
  7. Discussion Prompt: Frida Kahlo
  8. Discussion Prompt: Frida Kahlo and Animals

Graded: 8. Sexuality and dissonance - This quiz contributes 11% to your final grade

WEEK 9


What is Women’s Business? Indigenous Art and the Dreaming



National Gallery of Victoria Senior Curator of Indigenous Art, Judith Ryan, takes us deep into the Dreaming of the Australian Indigenous tradition. She examines in detail the making of two masterpieces by women artists from the Australian outback; Emily Kam Kngwarray's Big Yam Dreaming and Martumili artists’ Ngayartu Kujarra. In this unit we look at these iconic works in the context of ‘women's business’ and the gendered stories of indigenous Australia.


3 videos, 2 readings expand


  1. Reading: Week 9 Outline
  2. Video: 9:1 What is Women’s Business?
  3. Video: 9:2 Big Yam Dreaming: Emily Kam Kngwarreye’s masterpiece
  4. Video: 9:3 Owning the Dreaming: Women’s stories
  5. Discussion Prompt: The Dreaming
  6. Discussion Prompt: The Dreaming and Gender
  7. Discussion Prompt: Indigenous Art and Modernist Tradition
  8. Discussion Prompt: Emily Kam Kngwarreye
  9. Discussion Prompt: Challenging Traditional Conceptions
  10. Reading: Congratulations!

Graded: 9. What is Women’s Business? - This quiz contributes 12% to your final grade
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