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... art. It was called the Feminist Art Movement, a poignant path that would lead females to rediscover self-consciousness and voice through the expressions of art. Among those women was Audrey Flack, an artist dedicated in asserting the goddess in every woman.
Using photorealistic paintings and mythological sculptures in her artwork, Audrey Flack restores the power of both femininity and feminism. Audrey Flack was born in 1931 in New York City, and as far back as she can remember, she had always wanted to be an artist. Flack began her dreams of becoming an artist by attending the High School of Music and Art, Cooper Union from 1948 - 1951. Graduating as a top student, Flack was admitted into Yale University's fine arts program in 1952. In 1977, she eventually received her BFA at Yale University.
Flack was an avid fan of artist Jackson Pollack, although she viewed his behavior as typical as the macho character of the art world in general. She therefore wanted to create a style unique to her own satisfaction. Flack pursued to create artwork that was realistic and true to nature. She would eventually find herself back in New York in 1953, where she produced artwork that came to reflect themes of femininity and womanhood, as well as morality and transcendence. Throughout the 1960 - 70 s, Flack headed into the world of photorealism. She stepped away from the mainstream and went against the views of modernism.
Flack painted with more color, form, image, space, and symbolic meaning. During this time of painting photorealistic artwork, Audrey Flacks most significant piece of work was titled Kennedy Motorcade (1960 s), a painting that captured the moments just before Kennedys assassination. She continued to focus her paintings on pubic figures and events, including Roosevelt, Hitler, and World War II. In 1977, Flack painted Marilyn, one of her Vanitas (vanities) series of oil over acrylic medium on canvas.
In Marilyn, Flack portrays femininity as a willed choice. Powder puff, rouge, and eye shadow crown and halo Marilyn Monroe as a queen and saint of makeup, the make-believe of feminine beauty (The Power of Feminist Art, 194). This airbrushed portrait of Marilyn Monroe recognizes the screen idol as a universal symbol whose exposed humanness and vulnerability [that] we all can identify with (American Artist, 1991). Marilyn is portrayed fragile, comprising both deep beauty and deep pain (American Artist, 1991). All the items painted in the picture express Marilyn's sensuality, romanticism, and vulnerability.
Further expression of this femininity / feminism is presented as we consider the background text (the book with Marilyn's picture) in the painting: About four or five months after she moved into the orphanage, she fell into a depressed mood. It came on during a rainy day. Rain always made her think of her father and set up a desire to wander. On the way back from school she slipped away and fled. She did not know where she was running to and wandered aimlessly in the slashing rainstorm. A policeman found her and took her to the police station.
She was brought back to Mrs. Dewey's office. She was changed into dry clothes. She expected to be beaten. Instead Mrs.
Dewey took her in her arms and told her she was pretty. Then she powdered Norma Jean's nose and chin with a powder puff. In 1950, Marilyn told the story of the powder puff to Sonia Wolfson, a publicity woman at 20 th Century Fox and then confided. "This was the first time in my life I felt loved - no one had ever noticed my face or hair or me before." Let us assume it even happened in some fashion. For it gives a glimpse as the powder goes on and the mirror comes up of a future artist conceiving a grand scheme in the illumination of an instant - one could paint oneself into an instrument of ones will! ... Noticed my face or hair" - her properties - or me (Marilyn, 1977) Flack wanted the miraculous truth of representation within the deep structure of painting (Review, 1999). Marilyn affirms the beauty, the sexual, and the spiritual power of the female image, as well as reveals the truth behind the stereotypical idealizations of the female sex.
Flack creates a character that is universal, one in which women can relate to both the outer beauty and inner vulnerability. Flacks realistic paintings brought her great success. She was the first American Photo-realist painter to have her artwork exhibited into the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in 1966. Also, her 1979 oil painting Time to Save was auctioned at Christies New York for $ 253, 000. Nevertheless, in the early 1980 s, Flack made the change from painting still lives to sculpture. Flacks shift in medium was in response to a need for something real.
Flack felt that society was fragmented, empty, and falling apart [so she] wanted to make solid objects, things that people could literally hold on to, things that wouldnt fly away or disintegrate (American Artist, 1991). Flack went on to produce progressively larger images, embodying female strength, ranging from a black medicine woman and a sun goddess to mythological deities such as Athena and Diana (American Artist, 1991). Derived from such mythological inspirations, Flack produced a series of sculptures called Civitas; a group of four, thirteen-foot high bronze goddesses that now preside over the entrance to Rock Hill, South Carolina. Each statue holds a circular emblem representing culture (stars), business (gears), education (flames), and vitality (lightning bolts). Civitas exemplifies the sense of universality in Flacks artwork. These sculpted goddesses were gentle, tranquil, yet strong and were Flacks answer to all the existing civic sculptures of male soldiers and warriors (American Artist, 1991).
Flack wanted to present a meaning for the community, to help instill pride by keeping complete harmony between the spirits of inner peace. Blending the cultures, legends, and philosophies of various cultures, namely Greek, Egyptian, American, and prehistoric, Audrey Flack created the figure Egyptian Rocket Goddess in 1990. Flack says that this sculpture is about breaking free as it has a determined facial expression and physical stance that literally pushes forward. The Egyptian Rocket Goddess has snakes wrapped around her arms, a traditional sign of female power and fertility since the Minoan Age in 1600 B. C. Her headdress is sleek and contemporary, relaying an image of a rocket.
Flacks goddess figures depict the image of female power and independence. She portrays the hero in every woman and conveys the strength that every female possesses. The figures relay a message that women can simultaneously be graceful and strong. Flack uses the reclaiming of the goddess figure to symbolize the restoration of beauty and power to the woman. The goddess image places the woman back in control of nature, as it was originally intended. The goddess image also helps to re-establish the creativity and spirituality to the womans being.
Perhaps the most monumental artwork produced by Audrey Flack is sculpture of Queen Catherine of Braganza, a Portuguese princess who became Queen of England. In 1992, Flack was selected the winner of a competition to build this tribute to Queen Catherine in Queens, New York. The $ 2. 4 million sculpture was completed in 1994, consisting of paginated and gilded bronze, jewels, and a crystal ball. The statue stands at a towering height of nine stories, which was originally to be placed over the East River in Queens, NY. Queen Catherine Of Braganza comes second in size next to the Statue of Liberty. However, controversy surrounding the Queen and past slavery issues has put a hold on the statues revealing.
Nonetheless, Flacks opportunity to exhibit her artwork at such grand proportions opens up a new gateway for future women artists. Flack has transformed the field of art by showing that women can create and idealize the qualities of bold femininity. Audrey Flacks artwork seems to bring the past back into the present. She brings back the lost ideals and images of womanhood and attempts to restore them into the women of today.
Her feminist artwork brings an understanding that gender is socially and not naturally constructed (The Power of Feminist Art, 10). Feminist art teaches to reinstate the awareness in women, to recognize that women have a voice to express their inner feelings and thoughts. Feminist art also provokes thought, helping women walk out from the shadows of struggle to achieve transcendence over the female-gendered world of nature (The Power of Feminist Art, 17). It seems that the key principle in the Feminist Art Movement was consciousness-raising, defined as a method of using ones own experience as the most valid way of formulating political analysis (The Power of Feminist Art, 21). The Movement called for the redefining of the female identity, that a new self be created as a result of the prior self being damaged by the processes of role-playing in society. Feminism is not about women being called to stereotypically male-bash or burn bras.
It is about stepping out of the boundaries of socially inscribed roles. It is about re-discovering our mind, body, and spirit. It is about the exploring and discovering of who we really are. Bibliography: New Woman, New Earth- Sexist Ideologies and Human Liberation Rather, R. R. (1975) Boston Beacon Press (1992) The Death of Nature - Women, Ecology and the Scientific Revolution Merchant, C. (1980), San Francisco Harper Collins. web The Power of Feminist Art: The American Movement of the 1970 s American Artist, 1991 web Audrey Flack Marilyn 1977
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