Gender and Aesthetics: An Introduction

Gender and Aesthetics: An Introduction

Gender and Aesthetics: An Introduction

Gender and Aesthetics: An Introduction

Synopsis

Feminist approaches to art are extremely influential and widely studied across a variety of disciplines, including art theory, cultural and visual studies, and philosophy. Gender and Aesthetics is an introduction to the major theories and thinkers within art and aesthetics from a philosophical perspective, carefully introducing and examining the role that gender plays in forming ideas about art. It is ideal for anyone coming to the topic for the first time.Organised thematically, the book introduces in clear language the most important topics within feminist aesthetics:* Why were there so few women painters?* Art, pleasure and beauty* Music, literature and painting* The role of gender in taste and food* What is art and who is an artist?* Disgust and the sublime.Each chapter discusses important topics and thinkers within art and examines the role gender plays in our understanding of them. These topics include creativity, genius and the appreciation of art, and thinkers from Plato, Kant, and Hume to Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva. Also included in the book are illustrations from Gaugin and Hogarth to Cindy Sherman and Nancy Spero to clarify and help introduce often difficult concepts. Each chapter concludes with a summary and further reading and there is an extensive annotated bibliography.Carolyn Korsmeyer's style is refreshing and accessible, making the book suitable for students of philosophy, gender studies, visual studies and art theory, as well as anyone interested in the impact of gender on theories of art.

Excerpt

This book examines the theories and conceptual frameworks that operate in and around art and aesthetics. It addresses these subjects from a feminist perspective, that is, with attention to the roles that gender plays in the formation and application of ideas about artworks, creativity, and aesthetic value. This approach assumes that images, representations, and crafted expression of ideas are important not only for their beauty, virtuosity, or intrinsic value, but also because they are indicators of social position and power. Wherever there is power there are disparities in the ways that it is employed, and art is an enterprise where sex and sexuality, gender and social position, and cultural authority all have formidable roles. Aesthetic power is often hidden or overlooked; when one thinks of aesthetic value, the qualifier "mere" is often implicit, indicating the presumption that practical or moral values not only take precedence over aesthetic value but are cleanly separable from the way something looks, sounds, feels, or communicates emotions and ideas. Arts programs are among the first items to be cut from municipal budgets; they are often classified as contributors to the "enrichment" of public life that may be eliminated without major loss, comparable to skipping dessert with no sacrifice of nutrition. This is a grave error; art and aesthetic taste are powerful framers of self-image, social identity, and public values.

The philosophical discipline of aesthetics is by no means restricted to theories of art or of critical reception and enjoyment. Yet with the exception of artworks, few items of our world are assessed chiefly for their aesthetic qualities. For this reason, philosophy of art occupies center stage in aesthetic theory. "Philosophy of art" is intended to include all of the various arts, although the term "art" is elastic. It has a narrow use in English as well as some other languages insofar as it refers specifically to the graphic arts of

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