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Title: Portraiture : femininity and style
Author: Witz, Teresa
ISNI:       0000 0004 2700 7798
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2008
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When I started the doctorate programme in 2002 I had a long-standing interest in vanitas paintings, both historical and contemporary. This developed into an interest in creating contemporary iconic images of celebrity personalities. I also started to explore ways of portraying 'iconic unknowns', which involved transforming ordinary, working women into modem icons. In the first year I was interested in celebrity icons, such as David and Victoria Beckham, Kylie Minogue and Cher. I was interested to portray these celebrities as more anonymous as people, but more familiar as brand images . . Also at this time I was developing an interest in what I have termed 'localised celebrities'; these were the wealthy women of Essex. I made paintings of the glamour and style of these Essex women and their' chic kitsch' . The work evolved with experiments in ways of portraying women, attempting to subvert the conventions of the male gaze by portraying women in a highly ambiguous manner. The conventions of clothing and 'styling' are exaggerated versions of the kind of sexualized to-be-Iooked-at-ness associated with the male gaze and yet the women in the paintings are refusing to be positioned as the to-be-Iooked-at-by men. They are defying the spectator to dare to consume her image in that way. I have attempt~d to complicate the relationship between the male spectator and the female image as well as opening up new ways in which women might assume the position of spectator. Laura Mulvey, a feminist film theorist, published an article in 1975 called 'Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema' in which she employed the term 'the male gaze'. Mulvey's analysis was concerned with the cinematic gaze, but certain parallels may be drawn with conventions of portraying women, for example in paintings and photography. She was primarily interested in the relationship between the image of woman and the 'masculinisation' of the position of the spectator. By this, she means that images of women are constructed according to patterns of pleasure and identification that assume masculinity as the 'point of view' (Mulvey: 1989: 29-38). Later, however, Mulvey began to think about how women could occupy the position of spectator.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Prof Doc (Fine Art) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available