Synopses & Reviews
In this major new book, renowned art historian Griselda Pollock enters the debate at the very center of the culture wars: Should the traditional canon of the Old Masters be rejected, replaced or reformed? And what difference can a feminist approach to art history make?
"Differencing the Canon" moves between feminist re-readings of modern masters--Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and Manet--and the canonical artists of feminist art history Artemisia Gentileschi and Mary Cassatt. Avoiding both an unrelenting critique of masculine canons and the unquestioned celebration of women artists, Pollock asks both how women read and what might be different about art made by a woman. She unpacks the representations of culturally resonant female figures in a range of texts, from Manet's depiction of the model Jeanne Duval in his painting "Olympia," to Charlotte Bronte's Lucy Snowe, artists representations of Cleopatra and Angela Carter's "Black Venus," and argues that it is not enough simply to read as a woman; we must also acknowledge the differences between women shaped by racism and colonialism.
Inspiring and original, "Differencing the Canon" offers an intervention that attempts to make difference a creative and dynamic process, opening up the possibilities of reading the complexity of visual art.
Is the canon of art history defining culture and creativity as essentially European and masculine? In this book, the author examines the canon's appeal, and explores both the fantasies and desires served by traditional heroic narratives in art history.
In this major book, Griselda Pollock engages boldly in the culture wars over what is the canon? and what difference can feminism make? Do we simply reject the all-male line-up and satisfy our need for ideal egos with an all women litany of artistic heroines? Or is the question a chance to resist the phallocentric binary and allow the ambiguities and complexities of desire - subjectivity and sexuality - to shape the readings of art that constantly displace the present gender demarcations?