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Title: Feminist art histories and masculinity : reading the mainstream art museum
Author: McPhail, Kyle Grey
ISNI:       0000 0004 8498 3576
Awarding Body: University of Leicester
Current Institution: University of Leicester
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis investigates the impact feminist art histories have had on mainstream art museums. The key finding of this thesis is that masculinity, or the traditional heteromasculine box, continues to impact the mainstream art museum. The research is approached through two case studies: Tate Modern, London, and the National Portrait Gallery, also in London. Each case study is conceptualised as comprising three, interconnecting and overlapping spheres: the organisational sphere, the curatorial sphere and the physical sphere. This thesis finds that, alongside the overwhelming impact of masculinity, structural faults in the collection, caused by historic bias, have created obstacles for curators. However, feminist art historical approaches are being implemented within the curatorial sphere in order to attempt to fill gaps and to correct biases. Although within the organisational sphere there is evidence of a feminist legacy, masculinity continues to have a large impact on experiences within physical art spaces, leading to questions about whether the actions museums are taking to diversify their collections is enough. The thesis argues that as some gaps in collections are addressed, others are being ignored and continue to grow. This is most evident in the case of transgender narratives. Despite the rise in the number of women artists and/or artists of colour, these artists are not given the same space as artists accepted within the art historical canon. This causes a lack of equivalency of scale between artists. Additionally, there are often specific spaces and times given to the display of marginalised artists. For example, the thesis finds that often the interpretation of an artist's queerness is limited to certain spaces within the gallery, or confined to special events and displays. Ultimately this thesis contributes to the growing field of queer feminist art histories as well as a queer reading of museums, while also exploring transgender and gender nonconforming narratives in art spaces.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: feminist art histories ; masculinity ; Thesis