Transcript: Wendy Steiner on Beauty As a Subject in Art: Female Body | Apr 17, 2004

Wendy Steiner stands behind a wooden podium on a stage. She is in her forties, with shoulder-length wavy blond hair. She’s wearing a gray blazer.

Wendy says WOW, THANK
YOU VERY MUCH.
I HAVE NOTHING BUT BAD NEWS TO
OFFER TODAY ON THE FRONT OF
LOVE AND BEAUTY AND SO FORTH.

[Some laugh]

Wendy continues SO, WE'LL
HAVE TO OVERCOME THIS, IN THE
COURSE OF THE DAY.
ALTHOUGH THE OVER ALL FRAME OF
MY BOOK ACTUALLY HAS THIS
HOPEFUL MESSAGE, THAT WE'RE
SORT OF COMING TO THE END OF
THIS ERA, AND ABOUT TO EMERGE
INTO A NEW PERIOD IN, IN
ESTHETICS, WHEN BEAUTY WILL BE
A, A TOPIC THAT NOT ONLY
INTERESTS PEOPLE AGAIN, BUT
THAT DOESN'T TERRIFY THEM.

The audience listens carefully.

She continues SO, WE CAN HOPE ANYWAY.
BUT TODAY, UNH-UH.

She laughs.

A caption appears on screen. It reads “Wendy Steiner. University of Pennsylvania.”

Wendy says NOW, UM, THE
CHAPTER THAT THIS TALK IS FROM
IS CALLED THE BURDEN OF THE
IMAGE.

The caption changes to “The trouble with Beauty.”

Wendy says AND IT GETS
THAT NAME AS YOU'LL SEE, FROM
AN IMAGE THAT I'M GOING TO SHOW
YOU.
AND THE EPIGRAPH FOR THE
CHAPTER IS FROM, BY GUSTAVE
FLAUBERT, 1852, WHO SAID THE
TIME FOR BEAUTY IS OVER.
OKAY.
IN ANDY WARHOL'S EARLY SHOE
WORKS, THE FUTURE POP MASTER,
PAINTS A NUMBER OF VERY
BEAUTIFUL SHOES, WITH LEGENDS
ADAPTED FROM LITERATURE.

She speaks French and continues
BEAUTY IS
SHOE AND SO ON.
AS A CAMP UNDERMINING OF ONE OF
THE GREAT APHORISMS OF
ROMANTICISM, -- BEAUTY IS
TRUTH, TO BEAUTY.
BEAUTY IS SHOE, SAYS A LOT
ABOUT THE MEANING OF BEAUTY IN
20TH CENTURY ART AND THE
ESTHETIC IMAGES THAT EXPRESS
IT.
IN PARTICULAR, IT SUGGESTS THE
EXTREME AMBIVALENCE WE NOW FEEL
TOWARDS BEAUTY FELT WITHIN AND
OUTSIDE ART.
WE DISTRUST IT.
WE FEAR ITS POWER.
WE ASSOCIATE IT WITH A
COMPULSION AND UNCONTROLLABLE
DESIRE OF A SEXUAL FETISH, A
SHOE.
EMBARRASSED BY OUR YEARNING FOR
BEAUTY, WE DEMEAN IT AS
SOMETHING TAWDRY, SELF-
INDULGENT OR SENTIMENTAL.
THIS ESTHETIC ANXIETY IS
ESPECIALLY EVIDENT IN THE
TREATMENT OF ONE OF THE
PERENNIAL IMAGES OF ARTISTIC
BEAUTY, THE FEMALE SUBJECT.
SYMPTOMATIC IS THE TITLE OF A
WATER COLOUR, THE COLOUR, THE
TITLE OF A WATER, A WATER
COLOUR BY THE SOUTH AFRICAN
DUTCH ARTIST, MARLENE DUMAS.
AH, IT'S CALLED THE IMAGE AS
BURDEN AND HENCE THE TITLE OF
THE CHAPTER, THE BURDEN OF THE
IMAGE.

She runs a PowerPoint presentation. A slide shows a black and white painting.

She continues IN THIS WORK A MAN CARRIES A
WOMAN WHO STANDS FOR THE IMAGE.
THE REPRESENTATIONAL SUBJECT OF
ART.
THE ALLURE OF THE VISUAL.
ALL THAT HAS PERENNIALLY BEEN
SYMBOLIZED AS WOMAN.
THIS HAS BECOME A BURDEN.
HE HOLDS HER LOVINGLY AND WITH
GREAT CONCERN, THOUGH SHE'S
HEAVY.
NOT EASY FOR HIM TO SUPPORT.
HER HEAD IS THROWN BACK IN
UNCONSCIOUSNESS OR DEATH, AND
IT IS DARK AND SCHEMATICALLY
RENDERED LIKE THE MASS FIGURES
OF PICASSO'S EARLY CUBISM.
HER ROBE IS IMMACULATELY WHITE,
BUT HIS HANDS CREATE THE DARK
PUBIS FOR HER, SINCE HER OWN
SEX IS HIDDEN.
UNLIKE TISHAN, VENUS, OR VENO
OR MANET'S OLYMPIA, IN WHICH
THE WOMAN'S HANDS HIDE AND AT
THE SAME TIME PRESENTS HER
PUBIS IN A VISUAL SIMULATION,
HERE IT IS THE MAN WHO'S
SUPPORTING HANDS PERFORM THIS
SCANDALOUS, OSTENTATIOUS,
OSTENTATION, FOR SHE IS NO
LONGER ABLE TO DO SO ON HER
OWN.
THE HAND IS LIKE A PALM FROND,
A STYLIZATION OR DESIGN OF
PUBIC HAIR, AS IF PAINTED ON BY
THE MAN'S HAND.
HIS ADDITION RATHER THAN HER
ESSENCE.
IN THIS WAY, HE CREATES HER
SEX.
BUT SINCE TRADITIONAL
DEPICTIONS OF FEMALE NUDES ARE
IN FACT MALE CREATIONS, IT IS
ONLY JUST THAT THE MAN OPENLY
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR
DESIGNING THIS PUBIS BY HAND,
BY HIS HAND.
NOW, THIS PAINTING WAS INSPIRED
BY A FILM STILL FROM GEORGE
CUKOR'S “CAMILLE,” IN WHICH
JOHN GARFIELD I THINK IS
HOLDING GRETA GARBO WHO HAS
FAINTED AWAY IN HER CONSUMPTIVE
STATE.
BUT IN TERMS OF THE HISTORY OF
PAINTING, IT'S HARD TO AVOID
SEEING THE POSE OF THE TWO
FIGURES ALSO AS A PIETE.
WITH THE SORROWING MAN, AND
MOURNFUL MARY AND THE FEMALE
IMAGE OF CRUCIFIED CHRIST.
THE FACT THAT THE SEXES OF THE
TWO ARE SLIGHTLY AMBIGUOUS
REINFORCES THIS REFERENCE.
IN A PIETE, MARY GRIEVES AT THE
DEATH OF HER SON AND WITH HIM
CHRISTIAN LOVE.
THE ARCHETYPE OF PICTORIAL
PATHOS UNTIL THE ENLIGHTENMENT,
THE CRUCIFIED GOD IS NOW
REPLACED BY THE CRUCIFIED
WOMAN.
THE SECULAR BEAUTY AND LOVE AND
SALVATION THAT ART PROMISED,
WHICH HAVE BEEN SACRIFICED IN
THEIR TURN AS WELL.
THE IMAGE IS DEAD AND
CONTEMPLATING ITS DEMISE, HER
DEMISE, THOSE WHO HAVE
WITNESSED THIS MARTYRDOM OR
CAUSED IT ARE LEFT TO MOURN.
BEREFT, BAFFLED, BURDENED WITH
RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR
UNCOUNTABLE CRIME.
IF WARHOL'S BEAUTY IS SHOE,
REDUCES MODERN ART TO A FETISH
OR A QUOTATION, THIS WATER
COLOUR REVEALS --

Wendy says WHAT HAS BEEN
SACRIFICED ALONG THE WAY.
WOMAN AS AN ESTHETIC SUBJECT
AND AS THE VEHICLE OF CENTURIES
OF IDEALISM AND CONTEMPLATIONS
OF VALUE.
AND NO DOUBT --

Wendy says CENTURIES OF
HYPOCRISY AND FALSE
CONSCIOUSNESS AS WELL.
THE INSIGHT THAT GAVE RISE TO
THIS LINE OF THINKING CAME SOME
YEARS AGO WHEN I WAS VISITING
MUSEUMS IN PARIS.
IN THE MORNING I WENT TO THE
MUSE DORSAY, A PREDOMINANTLY
19TH CENTURY COLLECTION, WHICH
IS FULL OF PAINTINGS OF WOMEN
IN ALL KINDS OF GUISES.
IN GORGEOUS CLOTHING, OR IN THE
NUDE, ELEGANT LADIES OR
UNRESPECTABLE EAU DA RISK.
IN THE CITY, IN THE COUNTRY,
AND SO ON.
IN THE AFTERNOON AT THE
MODERNIST POMPIDOU CENTRE,
THESE BEAUTIES WERE NOWHERE IN
EVIDENCE.
UM, THIS MAGAZINE COVER SAYS IT
ALL.

The cover reads “The New Yorker.”

Wendy laughs and continues ONE OF
PICASSO'S CUBIST WOMEN LOOKS IN
THE CHEVAL GLASS, OR SHE WOULD
IF HER EYES COULD FOCUS.
AND SHE SEES
HERSELF REFLECTED AS JOHN
SINGER SARGENT'S 19TH CENTURY
“MADAME X” REVERSED IN THE
MIRROR.
THE ALLURE OF PICASSO'S
PAINTING LIES IN ITS FORM AND
NOT IN THE IMAGE OF THE WOMAN
IT DEPICTS.
AS SHE LOOKS IN THE MIRROR AND
SEES THE VAMP SHE USED TO BE,
WE REALIZE THAT 19TH AND 20TH
CENTURY ESTHETICS DO NOT
REFLECT EACH OTHER FAITHFULLY.
THE ROLE THAT THE IMAGE OF
WOMEN PLAYED AS THE ARCH
SIGNIFIER OF ESTHETIC PLEASURE,
HAS BEEN REPLACED BY FORMAL
FACTORS.
WHO'S THE FAIREST OF THEM ALL?
YOU MIGHT ASK HER AS SHE LOOKS
IN THE MIRROR.
YOU MUST BE KIDDING SHE
ANSWERS, SHRUGGING HER SPACE
RELATION.

[Some laughter]

Wendy continues THROUGHOUT
MUCH OF THE HISTORY OF ART
HOWEVER, FEMALE SUBJECTS BEHOLD
THEIR IMAGES IN MIRRORS WITH A
NARCISSITIC PLEASURE, THAT
CLEARLY ECHOES OR IS MEANT TO
INCITE THE VIEWERS.
OR THEY SIMPLY PRESENT
THEMSELVES TO THE VIEWERS' GAZE
AS OBJECTS OF BEAUTY.
THE BEAUTY AND ALLURE OF THESE
SUBJECTS ARE UNASHAMED ANALOGS
TO THE APPEAL OF THE ART IN
WHICH THEY FIGURE.
EVEN IN THE SECOND HALOF THE
19TH CENTURY WHEN THE SINALITY
WAS BEGINNING TO COME UNDER
ATTACK.
WE MIGHT LOOK AT A FEW OF THESE
TRADITIONAL IMAGES.
HERE IS TISHAN'S DAMET.
RENOIR'S “THE SWING,” IN WHICH
YOU SEE A YOUNG MAN, ON THE
LOWER LEFT HAND CORNER LOOKING
UP THE SKIRT OF THE LADY ON THE
SWING.
IF ANYBODY HAS SEEN “CONTACT.”
IN NEW YORK AT LINCOLN CENTRE,
THE FIRST PIECE OF IT STARTS
WITH THAT PAINTING ON THE
STAGE, AND THEN REPLICATES IT
IN THOSE CHARACTERS ON THE
STAGE.
ANG'S “LA SUR,” WITH A FIGURE
SO YOUNG THAT IN THE KIND OF
POLITICAL CLIMATE OF OUR DAY,
SHE WOULD BE LOOKED UPON AS A
KIND OF A, A VICTIM OF SEXUAL
AGGRESSION ON THIS PART OF THIS
PAINTER.
UM, WE SAW MANET'S OLYMPIA
BEFORE.
HERE'S CUVIER'S LA FEMME LA
BLANC.
UM, AND UM, PERHAPS A MAJOR
STEP TOWARD THE MODERNIST
TRANSFORMATION OF THE BEAUTIFUL
WOMAN INTO THE BEAUTY OF FORM,
AT LEAST IN THE TITLE, THIS IS
WHISTLER'S “ARRANGEMENT IN
BLACK,” OTHERWISE KNOWN AS LADY
NOIR.
ALL RIGHT, BUT THE LADY NOIR,
COMES CONSIDER, COMES AFTER THE
SUBTITLE OF HIS ARRANGEMENT IN
BLACK.

Fast clips show classical and nude paintings.

She continues IT'S HARD TO THINK OF A MAJOR
20TH CENTURY ARTIST IN
CONTRAST, WHO SPENT HIS OR HER
TIME DEPICTING WOMEN AS SYMBOLS
OF THE BEAUTY AND PLEASURE OF
ART.
TYPICAL IS A MODERNIST LIKE
DECUNE, WHO PAINTED ENDLESS
WORKS CALLED WOMAN.
NONE OF WHICH ATTENDS TO THE
FEMALE SUBJECT OF THE TITLE,
EXCEPT PERHAPS THROUGH THE
LUSHNESS OF ITS FLESH TONE
PAINT AND ITS DANGEROUS MAWE.

A colourful painting appears. It features warm pink colours and deconstructed forms.

She continues OF COURSE ONE COULD ARGUE THAT
NOT ONLY DID WOMEN DISAPPEAR IN
MODERNISM, BUT MEN DID TOO.
IN FACT, ANY SORT OF BEAUTIFUL
OR UGLY SUBJECT MATTER FELL OUT
OF PAINTING AT THIS TIME, SINCE
REPRESENTATION ITSELF WAS
SUSPENDED OR ATTENUATED, THE
DISAPPEARANCE OF THE BEAUTIFUL
WOMAN AS SUBJECTS, COULD BE
JUST AN INSTANCE OF THE GENERAL
TURN AWAY FROM CONTENT.
BUT FOR MODERNIST ARTISTS,
WOMAN WAS JUST NOT ANY OTHER
SUBJECT.
HERE IS GEORGE BRACH IN ABOUT
1910.
I COULDN'T PORTRAY A WOMAN IN
ALL HER NATURAL LOVLINESS HE
SAYS.
I HAVEN'T THE SKILL.
NO ONE HAS.
I MUST THEREFORE CREATE A NEW
SORT OF BEAUTY.
THE BEAUTY THAT APPEARS TO ME
IN TERMS OF VOLUME, OF LINE, OF
MASS, OF WEIGHT, AND THROUGH
THAT BEAUTY INTERPRET MY
SUBJECTIVE IMPRESSION.
I WANT TO EXPOSE THE ABSOLUTE
AND NOT NEARLY THE FACTITIOUS
WOMAN.
ANDRE DERHAN MAKES A
SURPRISINGLY SIMILAR STATEMENT
IN THE SAME YEAR.
WHY WOULD AFTER ALL IS A PRETTY
WOMAN?
IT'S A MERE SUBJECTIVE
IMPRESSION WHAT YOU THINK OF
HER.
THAT'S WHAT I PAINT, ANOTHER
KIND OF BEAUTY OF MY OWN.
IN MY IDEAL, I BRING THAT
BEAUTY FORTH IN TERMS OF LINE
OR VOLUME.
SO JUST AS PICASSO TRANSFORMS
THE MONAH OF AFRICAN RELIGIOUS
FETISHES INTO THE --
THE BEAUTY OF
FORMAL ART, HE AND HIS FELLOW
CUBICS WERE TRANSFORMING THE
ALLURE OF THE FEMALE SUBJECT
INTO THE FORMAL BEAUTY OF LINE
AND VOLUME.
INDEED,
SOMETIMES PICASSO DID BOTH IN
THE SAME PAINTING.
THIS IS THE FAMOUS
LES DEMOISELLES D'AVIGNON,
OF COURSE IN
1907, WHICH IS ALWAYS IN THE
TEXT BOOKS PRESENTED AS THE
BEGINNING OF MODERN ART.

A slide shows five nude female prostitutes in a disconcerting confrontational manner.

She continues UM, THIS FOUNDING WORK OF
MODERNISM TAKES A STANDARD 19TH
CENTURY SUBJECT, PROSTITUTES IN
A BROTHEL AND REPLACES THEIR
ALLURE WITH THE EXTRAORDINARY
ACHIEVEMENTS OF FORM THAT HAVE
MADE THIS POINT, PAINTING SO
CRUCIAL A MARKER FOR THE
MODERN.
BUT IN THE VERY MOMENT IN,
WHICH FEMALE ALLURE SECEDES TO
FORMAL ACLAW, PISSO
INTRODUCES THE AFRICAN FETISH
OBJECT, SOMEONE ELSE'S MONAH,
SOMEONE ELSE'S SOURCE OF
FASCINATION.
OUT GOES THE BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN
COMES THE DISCIPLINE OF FORM.
WHICH JUST HAPPENS TO MIMIC THE
LOOK OF THE PRIMITIVE CULT
OBJECT.
IF MODERNIST ARTISTS, ART, I'M
SORRY, IF MODERNIST ART WAS TOO
SOPHISTICATED TO CONFUSE THE
DESIRE AROUSED BY ITS SUBJECTS,
WOMAN, WITH THE CONTIAN
PERFECTION OF ITS FORM, IT DID
NOT ELIMINATE DESIRE ALL
TOGETHER.
IT SIMPLY QUOTED THE DESIRE AND
POWER OF THOSE NOT SO
SOPHISTICATED, AND TRANSLATED
THE SYMBOLS OF THAT MONAH INTO
FORM.
MOREOVER, BY PRESENTING THE
PROBLEM OF DECIPHERING THE
SPACE RELATIONS IN THIS WORK,
WHICH ARE PRETTY HARD TO
DECIPHER IN NATURALIST,
REALIST, CON-CONVENTIONAL
TERMS, PICASSO TURNED THE
VIEWER FROM A VOYEUR,
CONNOISSEUR, OR CLIENT OF
SEXUALIZED WOMEN TO A
HERMANUDIC FORMALIST.
ANY DANGER THAT THE SUBJECT
MATTER MIGHT ENTAIL IS HEADED
OFF IN THE PROBLEM OF HOW TO
PUT THIS PAINTING TOGETHER
VISUALLY.
SO, THE BROTHEL, CLIENT, THE
PURIENT OBSERVER, BECOS THE
IMPERSONAL SCRUTINIZER OF ART,
APPROACHING IT THROUGH HIS OR
HER INTELLECT.
UM, IT IS FASCINATING TO
OBSERVE HOW CONSCIOUSLY THE
ETHIC MAKING WORKS OF
MODERNISM, TRANSFORM THE 19TH
CENTURY'S ARCH SYMBOL OF ART,
THE BEAUTIFUL WOMAN INTO A
FORMAL STRUCTURE.
AND WHAT I'M SHOWING YOU HERE
ARE THE KIND OF TYPICAL
PAINTINGS, THE KIND OF ONES
THAT YOU'RE ALL TOO FAMILIAR
WITH BY NOW, BUT THEY, THEY ARE
VERY TELLING, LIKE THIS ONE.
HERE IS DUCHAMP'S “NUDE
DESCENDING A STAIRCASE,” 1912,
WHICH HE DID IN MANY VERSIONS.

A new painting appears. It depicts a figure demonstrating an abstract movement in ochre and brown.

She continues THE BEGINNING OF FUTURISM AND
ULTIMATELY CONCEPTUALISM,
DUCHAMP'S “NUDE DESCENDING A
STAIRCASE” TAKES THE NUDE AS
IMAGE AND TRANSLATES HER INTO A
SYSTEM OF LINES AND PLANES,
SUGGESTING THE MODERN FETISH,
UM, OF THE MACHINE.
IN SURREALISM TOO, THIS
TRANSLATION WAS TAKING PLACE.
THE METICULOUS REALISM OF
MAGRITTE'S PAINTING WAS BROKEN
BY THE SURREALISM OF HIS
SUBJECTS, WHICH WERE OFTEN
WOMEN.

A black and white painting shows a dress in a hanger with breasts and a pair of shoes on a table. The shoes ends with toes and fingers.

She continues THE FEMALE FORM INHABITS
CLOTHING IN “PHILOSOPHY OF THE
BOUDOIR,” BUT THERE IS NO WOMAN
PRESENT.
MANY OF MAGRITTE'S WORKS HAVE
TITLES ASSOCIATED WITH THE
PLACE OF WOMEN IN THE ROMANCE
OR MELODRAMA.
OH, I LEFT THIS ONE OUT.
OKAY, THIS IS FOR EXAMPLE, “LA
BELLE CAPTIVE,” THE BEAUTIFUL
CAPTIVE, UM, WHICH IS ONE THAT
HAS A BUNCH OF TUBAS AND FISH
IN IT, BUT NO WOMEN AT ALL.
HERE IN A TYPICALLY, AND BUT IN
ALL THESE WORKS THE BEAUTIFUL
WOMAN IS ABSENT REPLACED BY A
VOCABULARY OF NON-FEMININE
OBJECTS SUCH AS TUBAS, FISH OR
WORKS OF ART.
ONE OF MAGRITTE'S CANVASES IS A
VIRTUAL ALLEGORY OF HIS
SITUTATION.
IT'S CALLED “ATTEMPTING THE
IMPOSSIBLE,” OR “THE IMPOSSIBLE
TASK” SOMETIMES AS THE
TRANSLATION GOES.
HERE IN A TYPICAL,
METICULOUSLY, REALIST
RENDERING, MAGRITTE SHOWS A
PAINTER WITH HIS BRUSH POISED
BEFORE HIS WORK.
A NUDE WOMAN PAINTED IN THIN
AIR AS REAL AS HE IS.
BUT HE HAS NOT BEEN ABLE TO
COMPLETE HER.
ONE OF HER ARMS IS MISSING.
IT IS AN IMPOSSIBLE TASK FOR A
MODERN ARTIST TO PAINT A
BEAUTIFUL WOMAN AS SUCH.
UM, YES.
THE SAME IDEA IS APPARENT IN A
FAMOUS IMAGE BY MAGRITTE THAT
FIRST APPEARED ON A 1929 COVER
OF LA REVOLUTION SURREALISTE,
A JOURNAL OF
SURREALISM.
THE WRITING ON IT READS
JE NE VOIS PAS LA CACHÉE
DANS LA FORET.

A black and white magazine cover appears. It shows a collage of men with their eyes closed and a nude woman in the center of the piece.

Wendy continues AND THE PAUSE
THAT I GAVE YOU IS FILLED WITH
THE IMAGE OF A NUDE.
SHE IS THERE IN THE MIDST OF
THE LETTERING, BUT HER PRESENCE
HAS EXCISED THE WORD FOR HER,
FEMME.
MOREOVER, SHE IS NOT SEEN BY
THE ORNAMENTAL FRAME OF MALE
SURREALISTS, WHO SURROUND HER
IMAGE, WHOSE EYES ARE CLOSED,
NO DOUBT IN ORDER FOR THEM TO
SEE FURTHER INTO THE FOREST OF
SYMBOLS, THAT IS THE HAUNT OF
THE SURREALIST.
THE WOMAN IS INVISIBLE.
HIDDEN IN THE FOREST, AND THE
WORD WOMAN IS ABSENT,
DELIBERATELY OMITTED.
AH, MARCEL DUCHAMP'S
“GRAPHITO,” THE MARK THAT HE
ADDS TO THE HISTORY OF ART BY
PAINTING THE MOUSTACHE ON THE
MONA LISA IS ANOTHER DENIAL OF
THE FEMALE SUBJECT IN
SURREALISM.
AND HIS ALTER EGO, IN WHICH HE
USED TO DRESS HIMSELF UP AS
THIS FIGURE IN MANY OCCASSIONS,
WHO'S NAME WAS
ROSE SAIS LA
VIE, OR, IT HAS TWO R'S IN THE
ROSE.
SO IT'S ERROSE SAIS LA VIE.
UM, THIS FEMALE IMPERSON,
IMPERSONATION HAS A NAME THAT -
TRANSFORMS A
WOMAN, ROSE SAIS LE VIS, INTO
AN IDEA ERROSE SAIS LA VIS,
EROS IS LIFE.
IN SHORT, MODERNIST ARTISTS
TURN THE VIEWER'S ATTENTION
FROM SUBJECT MATTER TO FORM OR
CONCEPT AND SYMBOLIZE THIS
SWITCH BY ELIMINATING THE IMAGE
OF A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN.
IN EFFECT THEY WERE MAKING THE
WORK ITSELF A FETISH, VALUABLE
IN ITSELF, COMPELLING.
A FORMAL COMP-COMPENSATION
PERHAPS FOR THE FAILINGS OF
REALITY.
WHO KNOWS?
HOW INTERESTING THAT AT THE
VERY MOMENT WHEN ART WAS BEING
RECONCEIVED AS A SELF-
REFERENTIAL, SELF-CONTAINED,
SELF-VALUABLE OBJECT, THE
PERENNIAL SYMBOL OF SUCH
NARCISSIM AND FETISHISTIC
ALLURE, WOMAN, WAS ABANDONED AS
AN ARTISTIC SUBJECT.
WOMEN DISAPPEARED AS THE
PRIVILEGED SUBJECT OF VISUAL
ART AND MIGRATED INTERESTINGLY
TO THE NEWER, LOWER ARTS OF
PHOTOGRAPHY, FILM AND
ADVERTISING, WHERE THEY FILLED
THE 20TH CENTURY.
INDEED, THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST
STRIKING DEVELOPMENTS OF 20TH
CENTURY ESTHETICS.
THE PHOTOGRAPHIC ARTS, IN WHICH
FORM AND SUBJECT MATTER ARE SO
MUCH HARDER TO DISSOCIATE THAN
IN PAINTING OR SCULPTURE.
INTENSIFY THAT DIFFICULTY, BY
USING A SUBJECT MATTER THAT
EVOKES DESIRE, THE BEAUTIFUL
WOMAN.
THE ALLURE OF THE FEMALE NUDE
IN A HETEROSEXUAL OR LESBIAN
ESTHETIC BECOMES ALL BUT
INDISTUINGISHABLE FROM THE
ALLURE OF THE ART, IN WHICH THE
SUBJECT APPEARS.
NO DOUBT THIS VULGAR, QUASI-
PORNOGRAPHIC CONFUSION, IN
WHICH THE VIEWER RESPONDS TO
CONTENT RATHER THAN FORM, IS
ONE OF THE FACTORS THAT CAUSED
PHOTOGRAPHIC ARTS TO BE
CONSIDERED LOW IN THE FIRST
PLACE AND INDEED NOT TO BE
CONSIDERED AS ART AS SUCH,
UNTIL QUITE RECENTLY.
THESE OBSERVATIONS SUGGESTED TO
ME THAT IT MIGHT BE POSSIBLE TO
TRACK THE DEVELOPMENT OF 20TH
CENTURY ESTHETICS IN TERMS OF
FOUR INTERCONNECTED SYMBOLS OF
BEAUTY.
FORM, FETISH, WOMAN, AND A
FOURTH THAT I'D LIKE TO DISCUSS
AT SOME LENGTH, THE ORNAMENT.
IN MODERNISM, JUST AS THE
BEAUTIFUL WOMAN WAS BANISHED,
SO WAS THE ORNAMENT.
MANIFESTO AFTER MANIFESTO,
VILLIFIES ARTISTIC ORNAMENT.
FROM POUND'S IMAGIST MIFESTO,
TO HEMINGWAY'S WRITINGS ON
ARTISTIC HONESTY, FROM LOS TO
DECORBUSTIER IN ARCHITECTURE,
AND IN VIRTUALLY EVERY VISUAL
MANIFESTO FROM FUTURISM TO
DADAISM TO SREALISM.
IN ORDER TO FETISHIZE ARTISTIC
FORM, MODERNISM ART GREW FOR
ITS SEAMLESSNESS, ITS UNITY.
THE UNIVERSAL, INTERNAL
CONNECTIVENESS, OF ITS EVERY
ELEMENT.
THE ORNAMENT IN CONTRAST,
IMPLIES A CONCEPT OF THE ART
WORK AS ESSENTIAL STRUCTURE AND
INCIDENTAL SURFACE.
BEAUTY AS ADD ON, AND THE
PROCESS OF BEAUTIFYING AS
ADDING SOMETHING ON, WHO'S,
ONLY FUNCTION IS TO BEAUTIFY.
THIS CASUAL DISJUNCTIVENESS
COULD NOT BE MORE INAPPROPRIATE
TO THE SUBLIMITY DEPOSITED IN
MODERN ART THEORY.
AND SO THE ORNAMENT JOINED THE
BEAUTIFUL WOMAN AS A MODERNIST
OUTLAW.
ORNAMENTATION AND WOMEN HAVE A
VERY LONG ASSOCIATION IN
ESTHETIC AND MORAL THOUGHT, AS
E.H. GOMBRICH POINTS OUT IN
“THE SENSE OF ORDER.”
IN DESCRIBING THE VIRTUES OF
THE ATTIC STYLE OF PROSE,
CICERO ARGUED ACCORDING TO
GOMBRICH THAT JUST AS SOME
WOMEN ARE SAID TO BE MORE
BEAUTIFUL WHEN UNADORNED,
BECAUSE THIS SUITS THEM, SO
DOES PLAIN STYLE DELIGHTS, EVEN
THOUGH IT LACKS EMBELLISHMENT.
MANY CENTURIES LATER THE
ARCHITECT, LOUIS SULLIVAN, A
PROPONENT OF FUNCTIONALISM AT,
AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY,
ANYWAY.
HERE IS THE MEYER BUILDING THAT
HE DESIGNED IN 1893, SULLIVAN
WROTE THAT QUOTE, ARCHITECTS
SHOULD REFRAIN ENTIRELY FROM
THE USE OF ORNAMENTS FOR A
PERIOD OF YEARS, IN ORDER THAT
OUR THOUGHT MIGHT CONCENTRATE
ACCUTELY UPON THE PRODUCTION OF
BUILDINGS WELL FORMED AND
COMELY IN THE NUDE.
OKAY, NOW SULLIVAN WENT ON TO
PRODUCE VERY ORNAMENTED
BUILDINGS LATER AND TO WRITE
ABOUT THIS, BUT AT THIS POINT
UM, HE WAS IN THE IDEOLOGY, THE
ANTI-ORNAMENTALIST IDEOLOGY
THAT WAS SO CHARACTERISTIC OF
MODERNIST THINKING.
IN 1908, THE VIENNESE
ARCHITECT, ADOLF LOSS, AND THIS
IS HOUSE FROM 1922.

A white and black picture shows a white house with a balcony surrounded by trees.

She continues UM, LOSS
WROTE A DIATRIBE AGAINST
DECORATION, ENTITLED, “ORNAMENT
AND CRIME.”
LOSS EQUATED THE IMPULSE TO
EMBELLISH WITH EROTICISM,
BARBARISM AND IMMORALITY.
DECORATING A BUILDING IS LIKE
TATTOOING ONE'S BODY HE ARGUED,
A MODERN TRANSGRESSION FOR
ANYONE.
THE PAPUAN WRITES LOSS, AND THE
RACISM HERE IS JUST RIGHT OUT
THERE, THE PAPUAN TATTOOS HIS
SKIN, HIS BOAT, HIS OAR, IN
SHORT EVERYTHING THAT'S WITHIN
HIS REACH.
HE IS NO CRIMINAL.
THE MODERN MAN WHO TATTOOS
HIMSELF IS A CRIMINAL OR A
DEGENERATE.
IF THE TATTOOED PERSON DIES AT
LIBERTY, IT IS ONLY THAT HE
DIED A FEW YEARS BEFORE HE
COMMITTED A MURDER.
AND HE GOES ON.
THE EVOLUTION OF CULTURE IS
SYNONOMOUS WITH THE REMOVAL
OF ORNAMENTS
FROM OBJECTS OF DAILY USE.
AND IN A SENTENCE, ANTICIPATING
THE POST-MODERN CONNECTION
BETWEEN GRAFITTI AND ORNAMENT,
HE WRITES, ONE CAN MEASURE THE
CULTURE OF A COUNTRY BY THE
DEGREE TOWARD WHICH ITS
LAVATORY WALLS ARE DOBBED.
SO, UM, THE IMPULSE TOWARD
PURITY OR MODERN FUNCTIONALITY
IN ART, IS APPARENT IN THE
MODERNIST REVOLT AGAINST
DECORATIVE MOVEMENTS OF THE
RECENT PAST AT THAT TIME, THAT
IS THE LATE 19TH CENTURY, SUCH
AS ART NOUVEAU.
AND HERE I DON'T HAVE A SLIDE
OF IT, BUT YOU CAN ALL PICTURE
MUCHA'S SARAH BERNHARDT AND THE
OTHER POSTERS THAT HE DID, IN
WHICH WOMEN AND ORNAMENT ARE
VIRTUALLY INDISTINGUISHABLE.
AH, CLINT IS ANOTHER OF THE
PAINTERS OF THIS ERA, WHO, WHO
EXEMPLIFY THAT.
THE RISE OF THE VARIOUS
EXTRACTIONIST MOVEMENTS ALSO
ELIMINATED THE IMPURITY OF
REPRESENTATION.
AS GOMBRICH NOTES, IT WAS IN
THE PERIOD WHEN THE CREATION OF
DECORATIVE FORMS WAS
INCREASINGLY SUPPRESSED IN
FAVOUR OF FUNCTIONAL UTILITY,
THAT WHAT IS CALLED ABSTRACT
ART MADE ITS ENTRY INTO THE
PRESERVE OF PAINTING AND
SCULPTURE, END QUOTE.
IF ARCHITECTURE WAS TO BE
EXCLUSIVELY PRACTICAL IN
FUNCTION, PAINTING WAS TO BE
HOWEVER, ELIMINATING SEMANTICS
IN ABSTRACT PAINTING COLLAPSED
THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN
ORNAMENTAL AND PICTORIAL ART.
MODERN ARTISTS INSISTED THAT
THEY WERE CREATING ESSENTIAL,
PURE ART, RATHER THAN WALL
DECORATIONS.
BUT THERE'S A CERTAIN IRONY IN
THE FACT THAT ABSTRACT
EXPRESSIONISM LOOKS SO GOOD
OVER SOFAS.
THIS IS JACKSON POLLOCK'S
NUMBER ONE.

A drip painting appears.

She continues THIS DISCONCERTING COLLAPSE OF
THE OPPOSITION BETWEEN THE PURE
AND THE DECORATIVE IS APPARENT
IN ANY MODERNIST PAINTING.
BETWEEN 1913 AND 16,
ARCHITECTURAORNAMENTS SUCH AS
ENTABLATURES, APPEAR AS
PICTORIAL ELEMENTS IN PICASSO'S
AND GREECE, SYNTHETIC CUBISM,
WITH THE SAME DEGREE OF
THINGNESS THERE, AS CHAIRS AND
GLASSES AND NEWSPAPERS.
WOMAN RECEIVES MUCH THE SAME
TREATMENT.
IN MAGRITTE'S “HARMONY IN RED.”
FROM 1909, THE BACKGROUND AND
FOREGROUND ARE COLLAPSED IN AN
ORNAMENTAL FLATNESS OF DESIGN,
COMMON AT THE TIME AMONG MANY
PAINTERS.
SO THE FEMALE FIGURE IS STILL
DIFFERNTIATED.
BUT CONSIDER THE TITLE OF
MATISSE'S 1927 PAINTING,
“DECORATIVE FIGURE ON AN
ORNAMENTAL BACKGROUND.”
THE FIGURE, THE NUDE WOMAN, IS
SO STYLIZED IN HER EROTICISM
THAT SHE BECOMES MERELY
DECORATIVE, IN THE SAME SENSE
AS THE BACKGROUND IS.
THERE IS NO IMPORTANT
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM, OR BY
IMPLICATION BETWEEN PURE ART
AND ANCILLARY ORNAMENT.
IN MING EVERYTHING ESSENTIAL,
THE MODERNIST MAKES EVERYTHING
SECONDARY, AND THE BLANK,
UNCOMPELLING FACE OF THE NUDE
IN THIS WORK INDICATES THE
SUPPRESSION OF BOTH DESIRE AND
THE DESIRED IN SUCH AN
ESTHETIC.
UM, IT'S FASCINATING, I'M GOING
TO TALK ABOUT LITERATURE SO FOR
A WHILE, SO NOW I'M GOING TO
DEPRIVE YOU OF VISUAL STIMULUS.
IT'S FASCINATING TO SEE HOW
CLEARLY THE CONNECTION BETWEEN
THE DEMISE OF ORNAMENT AND THE
DEMISE OF THE BEAUTIFUL WOMAN
WAS UNDERSTOOD IN THE 20TH
CENTURY.
EDITH WHARTON'S “THE HOUSE OF
MIRTH” WAS ORIGINALLY CALLED,
“A MOMENT'S ORNAMENT,” AND ITS
ABOUT A WOMAN WHO ACTUALLY DIES
FOR RELYING TOO HEAVILY ON THE
TRADITIONAL RELATIONS AMONG
BEAUTY, ART AND FEMININE POWER.
PERHAPS WE SHOULDN'T BE
SURPRISED AT THIS, SINCE EDITH,
SINCE EDITH WHARTON PUBLISHED A
BOOK ON INTERIOR DESIGN, “THE
DECORATION OF HOUSES,” WHICH
ENVAIED AGAINST EXSSIVE,
VICTORIAN ORNAMENTATION.
THE HERO OF “THE HOUSE OF
WORTH, MIRTH,” LILY BART, AND
SOME OF YOU MAY HAVE SEEN THE
RECENT MOVIE MADE OF IT, WHICH
IS SORT OF WONDERFUL.
THE HEROINE OF THIS MOVIE
PRESENTS HERESELF AND IS TAKEN
BY OTHERS AS A WORK OF ART.
SHE IS BEAUTIFUL, BUT SHE ALSO
USES HER BEAUTY AS
STRATEGICALLY AS THE MOST
SKILLED ARTIST.
AN EXTENSIVE SYSTEM OF
METAPHORS HIGHLIGHTS HER
AGAINST DRAB AND ENHANCING
BACKGROUNDS.
COMPARES HER TO A JEWEL IN
SEARCH, IN NEED OF A PROPER
SETTING, AND ESTABLISHES HER AS
A GENIUS OF VISUAL EFFECT.
SHE'S A STRANGE AMALGAM OF
CREATOR AND CREATION, AGENT AND
OBJECT, AND IN THIS RESPECT SHE
EMBUES THE CONTRADICTION
IMPLICIT IN THE IDEA OF
ORNAMENT.
SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL IN ITSELF,
THAT ALSO ADORNS AND
SUPPLEMENTS WHAT IS AROUND IT.

Wendy says BUT HER
FRIENDS IN SMART, NEW YORK
SOCIETY, HAVE VERY MIXED
FEELINGS ABOUT A BEAUTIFUL
WOMAN OF GOOD FAMILY WHO HAS NO
FORTUNE.
EVEN THE PHILOSOPHHER
PHILOSOPHIC FRIEND,
LAUREN SELTON SAYS, I DON'T
UNDER RATE THE DECORATIVE SIDE
OF LIFE.
IT SEEMS TO ME THE SENSE OF
SPLENDOUR HAS JUSTIFIED ITSELF
BY WHAT IT HAS PRODUCED.
THE WORST OF IT THOUGH IS THAT
SO MUCH HUMAN NATURE IS USED UP
IN THE PROCESS.
IN SELTON'S CRITICISM, THE
PROBLEM OF THE ORNAMENTAL IS
THAT IT STANDS OUTSIDE THE
REALM OF THE HUMAN, OUTSIDE THE
REALM OF PRACTICAL CONTINGENCY.
THAT THERE'S A WASTE INVOLVED
IN IT, UM, AND UM, AT THE SAME
TIME, THE ORNAMENTAL CANNOT
EXIST WITHOUT A SOLID, ECONOMIC
BASE, A, A, A PRACTICAL BASE ON
WHICH TO EXIST.
AND THAT IS A BASE, WHICH THE
POOR BUT EXPENSIVE LILY CANNOT
BRING HERSELF TO ACQUIRE.
ALL THROUGH THE NOVEL SHE KEEPS
SPOILING HER CHANCES OF
MARRYING RICH, BUT
UNINTERESTING MEN.
FOR WORLDY THOUGH SHE IS, SHE'S
FALLEN UNDER THE SPELL OF THE
IDEOLOGY THAT MOST EMPOWERS HER
BEAUTY, THE LITERARY ROMANCE.
AND IN THAT SYSTEM OF VALUES
SHE CANNOT BE A TRANSCENDENT
LOVE OBJECT, UM, IN EFFECT, I
SUPPOSE A FETISH, LAWRA û- AND
BEATRICE AND SO ON, IF HER
BEAUTY IS MERELY THE COIN THAT
BUYS HER WEALTH AND STATION.
THE DIFFICULTY FOR LILY IS THAT
TO BE A ROMANCE HEROINE, SHE
FEELS THAT SHE MUST BE A MONO,
MONO-FUNCTIONAL CREATURE.
A PURE ORNAMENT, UNSULLIED BY
VULGAR OR IMMORAL,
ASSOCIATIONS.
YET IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY
IN ALL GROUNDS, BUSINESS,
POLITICS, ARCHITECTURE,
ETCETERA, THE PRACTICAL
FUNCTION WAS BECOMING THE MONO-
FUNCTIONAL CHOICE.
THE NARRATOR INDICATES THE
CLASH BETWEEN THE MARGINILIZED
ORNAMENTAL FUNCTION AND THE
DOMINANT, PRACTICAL ONE IN A
PASSAGE TOWARD THE END OF THE
BOOK.
LILY QUOTE, HAD BEEN FASHIONED
TO ADORN AND TO DELIGHT.
TO WHAT OTHER END DOES NATURE
ROUND THE ROSE LEAF AND PAINT
THE HUMMINGBIRD'S BREAST?
AND WAS IT HER FAULT THAT THE
PURELY DECORATIVE MISSION IS
LESS EASILY AND HARMONIOUSLY
FULFILLED AMONG SOCIAL BEINGS
THAN IN THE WORLD OF NATURE?
THAT IT IS APT TO BE HAMPERED
BY MATERIAL NECESSITIES OR
COMPLICATED BY MORAL, SCRUPLES?
THE DILEMMA OF THE ORNAMENTAL
WOMAN IS PRESENTED EXPLICITY IN
“PARADISE LOST.”
A TEXT ALLUDED TO THROUGHOUT
“THE HOUSE OF MIRTH.”
ACCORDING TO MILTON NATURE
BESTOWED ON EVE, TOO MUCH OF
ORNAMENT.
IN OUTWARD SHOW, ELABORATE, OF
INWARD LESS EXACT.
AND YET WHEN I APPROACH HER
LOVLINESS, SO ABSOLUTE SHE
SEEMS AND IN HERSELF COMPLETE,
SO WELL TO KNOW HER OWN, THAT
WHAT SHE WILLS TO DO OR SAY
SEEMS WISEST, VIRTUESTIST,
DISCREETEST, BEST.
ALL HIGHER KNOWLEDGE IN HER
PRESENCE FALLS, DEGRADED.
EVEN SATAN IS STOPPED IN HIS
TRACKS BY EVE'S BEAUTY,
BECOMING FOR THE MOMENT
STUPIDLY, GOOD.
MILTON DESPITE HIS PURATINISM,
SHOWS GREAT SUSCEPTIBILITY TO
THE ORNAMENTAL WOMAN, OR AT
LEAST HIS CHARACTER ADAM DOES.
BUT BY THE 20TH CENTURY HER
STOCK HAD FALLEN.
AND WHAT IS THIS POWER THAT
MAKES ONE, NEGLECT ALL TRUTH
AND REASON BUT THE PUREST OF
REFERENTIAL COMPLETENESS OF THE
ESTHETIC OBJECT?
LIKE LILY SEALED THE WORD, WORD
BEYOND, SHOWN BENEATH THE
FLYING SHIP, THE FETISHIZED ART
WORK'S ISOLATION FROM CLASSICAL
CONTINGENCY IS THE CONDITION
NECESSARY FOR ITS TRANSCENDENT
VALUE.
AN ORNAMENT HOWEVER, IS ALWAYS
DEPENDENT ON SOMETHING TO ADORN
AND THUS IT IS ALWAYS
ANCILLARY, CONTINGENT, SPLIT.
“THE HOUSE OF MIRTH” IS THUS AN
ELABORATE ALLEGORY OF THE FATE
OF WOMAN AND THE ORNAMENT AT
THE ADVENT OF MODERNISM.
AT THE HEIGHT OF THE PERIOD,
THE PLIGHT OF THE FEMALE
ORNAMENTAL ENTERED POPULAR
DEBATE.
ZELDA FITZGERALD WROTE
REPEATEDLY IN HIGH CIRCULATION
MAGAZINES ABOUT THE DILEMMA OF
THE FLAPPER, THE FOLLIES GIRL
AND THE VAMP.
IN ONE ARTICLE CALLED “PAINT
AND POWDER,” SHE CLAIMS THAT
QUOTE, WITH PROSPERITY AND
POWER COMES ART, THE DESIRE FOR
BEAUTY.

Wendy says THE TASTE FOR
THE DECORATIVE, AND FOR HER
THESE ARE IN OPPOSITION, UM,
EQUIVENT.
WOMEN USE PAINT AND POWDER IN
ORDER TO CHOOSE THEIR DESTINY.

Wendy says TO BE
SUCCESSFUL COMPETITORS IN THE
GREAT GAME OF LIFE, SHE SAYS.
BY DOING SO THEY TURN
THEMSELVES INTO ORNAMENTS,
MASQUERADING AS THEMSELVES,
BECOMING OBJECT D'ARTS, WHO ARE
NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH THE
VITAL ELEMENTS OF AMERICAN
LIFE.
THESE ARE ALL QUOTATIONS.
THEY WEAR THEIR EMBELLISHMENTS
AS SUPERFICIALLY AS A CHRISTMAS
TREE SUPPORTS ITS ORNAMENTS SHE
SAID.
AND IN BOTH WEARING AND BEING
ADORNMENT, THEY BECOME MAGNETS
OF MALE RESPONSE.
AS A RESULT THEY SUFFER THE
SAME CONTRADICTION AS LILY
BART.
THAT THEIR BEAUTY IS BOTH A
VALUE IN ITSELF AND AN
EXCHANGE, VALUE, AN INSTRUMENT.
ZELDA FITZGERALD'S FOLLIE
GIRLS, GIRL, QUOTE, WORE
HERSELF OUT WITH THE STRUGGLE
BETWEEN HER DESIRE FOR PHYSICAL
PERFECTION AND HER DESIRE TO
USE IT, UNQUOTE.
IN THE MIDST OF THIS STRUGGLE
THE FLAPPER ENCOUNTERS THE
MODERN MAN'S DISDAIN FOR THE
ORNAMENTAL.
DAVID, A THINLY DISGUISED
FICTIONALIZATION OF F. SCOTT
FITZGERALD, HER HUSBAND,
COMPLAINS IN ZELDA'S NOVEL,
“SAVE ME THE WALTZ,” YOU'VE
BECOME NOTHING BUT AN ESTHETIC
THEORY, A CHEMISTRY FORMULA FOR
THE DECORATIVE.
SO IT DID NO GOOD FOR ZELLA,
ZELDA FITZGERALD TO DEFEND THE
DECORATIVE IN THE TERMS WITH
WHICH THE DECADENCE AND
MODERNISTS HAD DEFENDED ART
BEFORE HER.
SET IN THE BEKNIGHTED REALITY
OF THE 20TH CENTURY, THE
ARTIFICE OF FEMALE BEAUTY IS
THE ONLY COMPENSATION AND
REDEMPTION THAT SHE TRIED.
SHE SAYS, AND SO IF OUR WOMEN
GAVE UP DECORATING THEMSELVES
WE WOULD HAVE TIME TO TURN SAD
EYES ON THE BLEAK, TELE-
TELEGRAPH WIRES.
THE OFFICE BUILDINGS LIKE
CONES, LIKE CONES OF TRAINED
FLEAS.
THE BARREN, DESOLATENESS OF
CITY STREETS AT DUSK AND
REALIZE TOO LATE THAT ALMOST
THE ONLY BEAUTY IN THIS BUSY,
PERILOUS, LAND, WHOSE EVERY
ACRE IS LITTERED WITH THE WASTE
OF DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY, IS THE
GORGEOUS, RADIANT BEAUTY OF ITS
GIRLS.
POOR, ZELDA FITZGERALD.

[Laughs ]

Wendy continues FOR MOST
MODERNISTS, UM, FOR EXAMPLE
T.S. ELIOT, THE ORNAMENTED
WOMAN WAS NOT A DISTRACTION
FROM “THE WASTELAND” AT ALL.
BUT ONE OF ITS BLASTED HORRORS,
AND THE PATHOS AND INADEQUACY
OF ZELDA FITZGERALD'S DEFENSE
OF ORNAMENTAL BEAUTY, WOULD
PROVE DOUBT IN THE RUIN OF HER
OWN LIFE, CONSUMED IN A
DESPERATE ATTEMPT TO ACHIEVE
ESTHETIC PERFECTION.
NOW I HAVE TO APOLOGIZE,
BECAUSE I AM NOW GOING TO JUMP
VIOLENTLY INTO THE 60S, TO
POST-MODERNISM, WHEN SUDDENLY
THE ORNAMENT WAS MAKING A
COMEBACK.
MUCH OF POST-MODERNISM IS AN,
AN EXTREME REACTION TO THE
FUNCTIONAL RESTRICTIONS IMPOSED
BY MODERNISM.
DEMISE VANDERAULT'S 1923
DICTUM, “LESS IS MORE,” ROBERT
VENTURY QUIPPED, LESS IS A
BORE.
CHARLES JENKS CALLED MODERNIST
ARCHITECTURE INARTICULATE
BUILDING, SO INTENT ON THE
PURITY OF ITS LANGUAGE AND THE
PERFECTION OF ITS SOLUTION,
THAT IT IGNORED THE PARTICULAR
NEEDS OF ITS CLIENTS, THE
SOCIAL SIGNIFICANCE OF GIVEN
BUILDINGS, IN SHORT, THE WHOLE
QUESTION OF DECORUM AND MEANING
IN ART, IN ARCHITECTURE.
ORNAMENT IT TURNS OUT IS
CRUCIAL TO THIS KIND OF
DECORUM.
THERE ARE A NUMBER OF PRACTICAL
NECESSITIES WROTE JENKS, THAT
ORNAMENT IS UNIQUELY ABLE TO
SATISFY.
THE MOST OBVIOUS IS THE NEED
FOR IDENTIFICATION.
TELLING PEOPLE WHAT AN OBJECT
OR BUILDING IS, FOR WHAT
PURPOSE IT IS INTENDED.
ORNAMENT MAKES PLACES LEGIBLE.
AND I'D LIKE TO SHOW NOT THIS
SLIDE BUT ANOTHER ONE, WHICH I
HAD TO GIVE AWAY RECENTLY,
WHICH IS UM, AH, BUT THIS WILL
DO.

A picture shows a four-storey building.

She continues AH, THE, THE ONE I LIKE TO SHOW
THOUGH IS CORVESIER'S CONVENT
AT, AH, AH LA TOURETTE, WHICH
YOU CAN SHOW TO A GROUP OF
PEOPLE WHO DON'T KNOW THAT IT'S
A CONVENT AND HAVE THEM GUESS
WHAT FUNCTION IT IS AND NOBODY
EVER WOULD KNOW THAT, THAT WAS
SUPPOSED TO BE A CONVENT.
AND IN THE SAME WAY BUT LESS
DRAMATICALLY, UM, NOBODY, I
MEAN THIS COULD BE ANY ONE, ANY
NUMBER OF FUNCTIONS.
THERE COULD BE ANY NUMBER OF
FUNCTIONS BEING SERVED BY THESE
BUILDINGS.
IT COULD BE A UNIVERSITY, AN
OFFICE BUILDING, IT COULD EVEN
BE A RESIDENCE.
THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF THINGS
THAT IT COULD BE.
THERE'S NOTHING THERE THAT
WOULD TELL YOU ABOUT ITS
FUNCTION, AND CERTAINLY NOT,
NOTHING, NO TIPS
FROM ANYTHING
LIKE ORNAMENTS ON IT.
SO, ORNAMENT AS, AS WELL AS A
SCALE DEVICE ALLOWING THE EYE
TO RELATE HUMAN TO
ARCHITECTURAL SIZE
AND GIVING
THE EYE A PLACE TO REST, AND
THE NEED TO MEASURE.
THUS POST-MODERNISM DISCOVERED
A DELIGHTFUL PARADOX, OR WHAT
IT CONSIDERS A DELIGHTFUL
PARADOX.
THE ATTEMPT AT A MODERN
FUNCTIONAL ARCHITECTURE,
RESULTS NOT IN IDEALS, PERFECT
BUILDINGS, BUT IN UNIFORMITY,
REPRESSION AND SEMANTIC
DEPRIVATION.
ORNAMENT ALLEGEDLY FUNCTIONLESS
AND INSIGNIFICANT IS ESSENTIAL
TO ARCHITECTURAL DECORUM IN
MEANING.
IN HIS VISUAL TREATISE,
“MATRIX” FROM 1993, ROBERT
VENTURY CALLS HIS BUILDINGS
DECORATED SHEDS, AND ADVOCATES
THE USE OF ORNAMENT TO CRE
PATTERNS, SYMBOLISM, IRONY AND
WIT.
ROBERT JENSEN AND PATRICIA
CONWAY GO SO FAR, OR WENT SO
FAR AS TO CALL POST-MODERN
ARCHITECTURE, ORNAMENTALISM.
A FASCINATION THEY SAID, WITH
THE SURFACE OF THINGS AS
OPPOSED TO THEIR ESSENCE.
ELABORATION AS OPPOSED TO
SIMPLICITY, BORROWING AS
OPPOSED TO ORIGINATING, SENSORY
STIMULATION AS OPPOSED TO
INTELLECTUAL, DISCIPLINE.
SOMETIMES IT ATTEMPTS TO FOOL
THE EYE FAVOURING HUMOUR, AN
ILLUSION OF ANY HONEST
EXPRESSION OF STRUCTURE AND
FUNCTION, UPON WHICH MODERNISM
HAS SO LONG EXISTED, UNQUOTE.
THIS LIST REINSTATES THE VERY
CARNIVALESQUE TRAITS THAT
MODERNISM WAS SO ANXIOUS TO
ELIMINATE.
HUMOUR, PARODY, MIXED
HISTORICAL REFERENCE,
DISJUNCTION, SENSUALITY.
IT PRODUCES NOT THE FORCED
INTEGRATION OF MODERNISM, BUT
VENTURY'S DIFFICULT HOLE, FULL
OF LOOSE ENDS, QUESTIONABLE
TASTE AND CONFLICT.
IN PAINTING, POST-MODERNISM
REINTRODUCED REPRESENTATION AND
WITH IT THE ORNAMENTAL.
POP ART PHOTO REALISM AND NEO-
EXPRESSIONISM REASSERT THE
DUALITY OF PICTORIAL
FUNCTIONALISM, ALTHOUGH IN
HIGHLY PROBLEMATIC FASHION.
SO HERE'S WARHOL'S 32 CAMPBELLS
SOUP CANS, WHICH BY THEIR VERY
REPETITION CREATE DESIGN.
AND, AND REPETITION WAS A KIND
OF MANTRA IN WARHOL AND AT THE
ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT IDEAS
WITHIN HIS OVER ALL SYSTEM OF,
OF THINKING REPUTATION ADDS, OR
REPETITION ADDS UP TO
REPUTATION, HE SAID.
UM, AND THE IDEA OF CELEBRITY,
PUBLICITY AND SO ON IS BEING
BUILT ON, ON REPETITION, WHICH
ALSO CREATES DESIGN STRUCTURES,
LIKE THIS.
AND HERE HE EXPLOITED THE IDEA
OF CREATING HIS DESIGN
STRUCTURES IN REPETITION TO
SORT OF KICK UM, DESIGN,
ORNAMENT, THE ORNAMENTAL, THE
ESTHETIC AGAINST CONTENT.
THIS IS ONE OF HIS CATASTROPHE,
CATASTROPHE SERIES CALLED, THIS
IS “ATOM, ATOMIC BOMB.”

A painting shows several reproductions of black and pink shades as in a negative photo effect.

She continues UM, AND HERE RICHARD ESTES, UM,
“HORNET û- BASED ON A
PHOTOGRAPH, BUT THIS IS A
PAINTING.
UM, ARRANGED, YOU KNOW, USES
THE REPETITION OF UM, OF
WINDOWS REFLECTED IN ANOTHER
WINDOW, UM, IN ORDER TO, TO
CREATE PATTERNS AND DESIGN
ELEMENTS, TO MAKE, TO SORT OF
A HUGE REPRESENTATION,
MIRRORING AND ORNAMENTAL
DESIGN.
AND THIS STANDARD AND
DEVASTATING CRITIQUE OF EARLIER
PAINTING WAS THAT IT WAS MERELY
DECORATIVE, NOTHING MORE THAN
GOOD DESIGN.
BUT BY ADDING THE IMPURITY OF
REPRESENTATION, CONTEMPORARY
PAINTING NO LONGER HAD TO
PROTEST AGAINST ITS DECORATIVE
ROLE.
SEVERAL ARTISTS INSISTED ON THE
CONNECTION BETWEEN ORNAMENT AND
REPRESENATION.
FOR EXAMPLE, PATTERN PAINTERS
SUCH AS ROBERT KUSHNER, AND
ROBERT ZUCANICH, WHO ARRANGED
REPRESENTATIONAL ELEMENTS IN
REPETITIVE, DESIGNS.
I PARTICULARLY LIKE THE TITLE
OF THIS WORK, “IT ALWAYS HAPPEN
TO ME WHEN I DANCE WITH YOU,”
FROM 1975.
OKAY, THESE ARE FLOWERS.
I THINK YOU'RE NOT GETTING TOO
GOOD AN IMAGE HERE.
IS THIS CLEAR?
LIKE, CAN YOU, ARE YOU SEEING
THIS SLIDE MORE OR LESS?
THE RETURN OF REPRESENTATION
WAS ACCOMPANIED FROM THE, THE
START BY ARTISTIC QUOTATION AND
APPROPRIATION.
DIANE WALDMAN CLAIMS THAT
AMERICAN NEO-EXPRESSIONISM
DEPENDS UPON THE MEDIA FOR ITS
MYTHOLOGY AND IMAGERY,
EXPLOITING PULP, PORN, COMIC
BOOKS, COMMERCIALS, GANGSTER
FILMS, FOR TABLOID VIEW OF
AMERICAN LIFE.
THIS INTERTEXTUALITY AND
HISTORICISM ARE AMONG THE
SALIENT FEATURES OF MUCH POST-
MODERN FICTION TOO.
OF COURSE ESTHETIC ILLUSION
ABOUNDS IN MODERNIST ART AND
LITERATURE, BUT THE ATTITUDE
TOWARD IT NOW IS DIFFERENT.
RATHER THAN DEPLORING THIS
FRAGMENTATION, POST-MODERNISM
BASKS IN HETERORIGINAITY, IN
THE VERTIGO OF HISTORICAL
DISJUNCTION AND INTERPRETATIVE
DETERMINISM, INDETERMINISM.
ROY LICHTENSTEIN'S ARTIST
STUDIO -û MICKEY” FROM 1973 FOR
EXAMPLE, IS ENTIRELY COMPOSED
OF QUOTATIONS FROM HIS EARLIER
WORKS, INCLUDING ARCHITECTURAL
DECORATIONS THEMSELVES.
AND THIS WORK, FROM TWO YEARS
LATER, THIS IS THE WHOLE WORK
NOT A DETAIL, UM, ISOLATES THE
ARCHITECTURAL ORNAMENT IN HIS
WORK.
IT'S CALLED “A TABLATURE.”
RAISING ORNAMENT AND
DISJUNCTION TO SUBJECTS IN
THEIR OWN RIGHT.

Slides continue to show the paintings described.

She continues IT WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME
BEFORE LOSS' ENDICTMENT CAME TO
PASS, AND PEOPLE SAW THE
ANALOGY BETWEEN THE ORNAMENTAL
AND GRAFITTI, AH, TURNING THE
LOWLY SCRIBBLE INTO HIGH ART.
THIS IS BASQUIAT'S “WATER
WORSHIPPER” FROM 1984.
MICHEL BASQUIAT REMEMBER
STARTED OUT AS A GRAFITTI
ARTIST ON THE STREET AND ENDED
UP PRODUCING UM, PAINTINGS
WHICH WERE DESCRIBED AS
GRAFITTI ART.

A painting shows two strange human figures in a black, white and blue background.

She continues GRAFITITI LIKE ORNAMENTS ARE
SUPPLEMENTS.
THEY'RE ADDED ONTO THE BUILT
WORLD.
ART THAT LOOKS LIKE GRAFITTI
TRANSFERS THAT ACT OF
SUPPLEMENTATION, CRIMINALITY,
EXUBERANCE AND SELF-ASSERTION,
TO THE WORLD OF HIGH ART THAT
REAL GRAFITTI SET OUT TO
DEFACE.
THE SPECIFITY OF THE GRAFITTO,
ONE PERSON'S IDOSYNCRATIC
SIGNATURE AND
ITS FRAGILITY, EVER ABOUT TO BE
WASHED OFF OR PAINTED OVER,
MAKE IT A PERFECT CONTRAST TO
THE UNIVERSAL CLAIMS OF
MODERNIST ART.
GRAFITTI ART DEMONSTRATED NOT
ONLY ITS OWN
ROOTEDNESS IN
A TIME AND PLACE, BUT ITS
AUDIENCES HISTORO-CITY AS WELL.
THE GRAFITTO IS THUS AS
SCANDALOUS TO A MODERNIST
SENSIBILITY AS THE TATTOO, AND
POST-MODERNISM WAS FASCINATED
WITH THEM BOTH, AS IT WAS WITH
THE OUTSIDER ART, WHICH HAS
BECOME OUR CONTEMPORARY
PRIMITIVISM.
POST-MODERN PHOTOGRAPHY,
INSISTS ON THE ORNAMENTAL AND
FETISHISTIC NATURE OF ITS
SUBJECTS, ANALAGOUSLY OF ART.
WE'VE SEEN THE FIREWORKS THAT
THIS MOVE CAN SET OFF WITH
ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE.
HERE IS “LEATHER MAN.”
IN CINDY SHERMAN'S WORK, FOR
EXAMPLE, “FILM STILL,” AND THIS
IS CALLED “MADONNA.”
YOU KNOW, OF COURSE THAT SHE IS
THE SUBJECT HERE.
I MEAN SHE, SHE ALWAYS APPEARS
IN HER OWN WORKS AND SHE
DISGUISES HERSELF, MAKES
HERSELF UP, AS PROSTHETIC
BREASTS AND VARIOUS OTHER
THINGS AS NEEDED, UM, UNTIL SHE
MAKES HERSELF OVER, DECORATES
HERSELF OVER INTO THIS FIGURE.

Different paintings flash by. They show a dark man on a flashy background, a woman lying in bed wearing underwear and another woman wearing a long dress that shows one of her breasts.

She continues SO SHE IS A KIND OF LIVING
EMBODIMENT OF THE FEMALE
MASQUERADE, UM, IN ALL ITS
VERSIONS.
SO, HER WORK IS ALL ABOUT THE
MEANING OF CLOTHING, ACTING,
DISGUISE, IMPERSONATION,
APPROPRIATION AND PASTICHE.
UM AND THE POWER OF SALLY
MANN'S PHOTOS, OFTEN ARISES
FROM THE STYLIZATION, ADORNMENT
AND STAGING OF CHILDREN.
HMM, DO I HAVE ONE OF HERS?
OKAY.
UM, IN ART CRITICISM, THE IRON
GROUP OF FORMALISM DID RELAX.
FIRST THROUGH THE INFLUENCE OF
LITERARY THEORY AND LATER,
THROUGH THE VARIOUS CRITICISMS
ASSOCIATED WITH LIBERATION AND
MOVEMENT.
DERRIDAN DECONSTRUCTION WAS A
KIND OF INSTITUTIONALIZED
SCHOLARLY CARNIVAL, AND ITS NO
ACCIDENT THAT THIS PERIOD ALSO
DREDGED UP BACHTINIAN ESTHETICS
FROM ITS SIBERIAN EXILE IN THE
PAST.
DE FARRONS, INDETERMINANCY, THE
CARNIVALESQUE, DISJUNCTION AND
IRRATIONALITY ARE CELEBRATED IN
POST-MODERN ESTHETIC MUSINGS.
AND THE THEORY OF THE
SUPPLEMENT PROVIDES A
THEORETICAL EXPLANATION FOR THE
ROLE OF ORNAMENT IN ALL THE
ARTS.
DERRIDA EXAMINES THE CONCEPT OF
ORNAMENT IN “THE TRUTH IN
PAINTING.”
HE NOTES THAT KANT, IN TRYING
TO DEFINE THE PROPER OBJECT OF
“THE JUDGEMENT OF TASTE,”
DISTINGUISHED IT FROM THE
SEDUCTIVE ORNAMENT.
FOR EXAMPLE THE GILDED FRAME,
THE COLONADE, CLOTHES ON
STATUES, THE FRAME, AND DRAPED
THIS KANT TERMED QUOTE, THE PAR
ERGON, THE PERVERSION, THE
ADORNMENT.
BUT SAYS DERRIDA, KANT'S
DISTINCTION BETWEEN ART AND
FRAME OR BETWEEN STRUCTURE AND
GILDED SURFACE HAS BY OUR DAY
BECOME ILLUSIVE.
I DO NOT KNOW HE WRITES, WHAT
IS ESSENTIAL AND WHAT IS
ACCESSORY IN A WORK.
THE WHOLE ANALYTIC OF ESTHETIC
JUDGEMENT FOREVER ASSUMES THAT
ONE CAN DISTINGUISH RIGOROUSLY
BETWEEN THE INTRINSIC AND THE
EXTRINSIC.
SO, DECONSTRUCTION LIKE ITS
ART, ARTISTIC EQUIVALENT
PASTICHE, AHEM, BELIED THE
POSSIBILITY OF THIS DISTINCTION
AND THE ANARCHIC NOVEL REPLACED
THE OVER DETERMINED POEM AS THE
DOMINANT POST-MODERN LITERARY
MODE.
ACCORDING TO THE LOGIC OF
ESTHETIC HISTORY, IF POST-
MODERNISM REINTRODUCED THE
ORNAMENT, WE WOULD EXPECT TO
SEE IT DO THE SAME FOR THE
BEAUTIFUL WOMAN AND FOR SOME
ARTISTS IT DID.
UM, HERE IS WAR, ONE OF
WARHOL'S RENDITIONS OF JACKIE.
UM, AND BUT AT THE SAME TIME
THOUGH WOMAN COMES BACK IN IT,
ITS WOMAN'S IMAGE THAT WE'RE
SEEING HERE, REPEATED ENDLESSLY
AND WITH DIFFERENT VARIATIONS.

Now, a paining shows a long horizontal black strip with several female faces in bluish colors.

She continues AGAIN BEING MADE OVER INTO A
DESIGN, RATHER THAN BEING
PRESENTED AS A UNIQUE BEING IN
HERSELF.
UM, AS A SUBJECT, WE WANT TO
GET INTO THAT.
UM, IN JOHN FOWLES' NOVELLA,
“THE EBONY TOWER” FROM 1974, WE
GET A VERY CONSCIOUS ATTEMPT ON
THE PART OF THE WRER TO
REINTRODUCE THE IDEA OF A WOMAN
AS A SYMBOL OF BEAUTY AND ART.
IN THIS NOVELLA, A YOUNG,
ABSTRACTIONIST ARTIST WHOSE
NAME IS DAVID
AND AN OLD
REPRESENTATIONAL ARTIST GET
INTO A FIGHT, ABOUT WHETHER
FORM OR DESIRE IS THE ESSENCE
OF ART.
YOU WONDER WHY YOU HAVEN'T
MAYBE, YOU KNOW, HEARD ABOUT
THIS NOVELLA, ITS
BECAUSE ARGUMENTS BETWEEN
CHARACTERS ABOUT WHETHER FORM,
REPRESENTATION, DON'T --

Wendy chuckles and says DON'T
NECESSARILY DO VERY WELL.
BUT HOWEVER, IT'S USEFUL.
THE OLDER,
THE OLDER ARTIST IS, IS
ACCOMPANIED BY HIS NUBILE,
NUBILE, NUDE, WHOM HE CALLS HIS
MOUSE.
A KIND OF POST-MODERN VERSION
OF A MUSE, UM, AND THIS OLDER
ARTIST HAS NOTHING BUT DISDAIN
FOR THE POWER OF FORM IN ART,
AND LAYS INTO DAVID, THE YOUNG
ABSTRACTIONIST.
YOU DID NOT WANT HOW YOU LIVED
TO BE REFLECTED IN YOUR
PAINTING, OR BECAUSE IT WAS SO
COMPROMISED, SO SETTLED FOR THE
SAFE, YOU COULD ONLY TRY TO
CAMOUFLAGE ITS HOLLOW REALITY
UNDER CRAFTSMANSHIP AND GOOD
TASTE, GEOMETRY, SAFETY, HID IN
NOTHINGNESS.
DAVID PROTESTS.
BUT IF PHILOSOPHY NEEDS LOGIC,
IF APPLIED MATHEMATICS NEEDS
THE PURE FORM, SURELY THERE'S A
CASE FOR FUNDAMENTALS IN ART,
TOO.
AND THE OLD, ARTIST ANSWERS,
COCK, NOT FUNDAMENTALS,
FUNDAMENTS.
HE NODDED AT THE GIRL BESIDE
HIM.
A PAIR OF TITS AND A CUNT, ALL
THAT GOES WITH THEM, THAT'S
REALITY, NOT YOUR PIDDLING
LITTLE THEORUMS AND PANSY
COLOURS.
THE, THE MOUSE INTERRUPTED IN
AN ABSOLUTELY NEUTRAL VOICE.
YOU'RE AFRAID OF THE HUMAN
BODY.

[Audience laughs]

Wendy says CAN YOU
IMAGINE?
DAVID ANSWERS, PERHAPS SIMPLY
MORE INTERESTED IN THE MIND
THAN THE GENITALS.
GOD HELP YOUR BLOODY WIFE THEN,
SAYS THE MOUSE.
AND DAVID SAID EVENLY, I
THOUGHT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT
PAINTINGS.
DAVID DOESN'T SEEM TO REALIZE
THAT THE MODERNIST SPLIT
BETWEEN PAINTING AND ITS
SUBJECT MATTER WAS NOW VERY
MUCH IN DISPUTE.
BY THIS POINT, THE ALLURING,
FEMALE SUBJECT SHOULD HAVE MADE
SOME SORT OF ESTHETIC COMEBACK.
BUT AT THE VERY MOMENT IN THE
60S AND 70S, WHEN POST-
MODERNISM WAS CREATING AN
OPENING FOR THE ORNAMENT, THE
RISE OF FEMINISM WAS KEEPING
THE DOOR CLOSED ON THE
BEAUTIFUL WOMAN AS A SUBJECT OF
ART.
THE TEMPTATION TO BE A
BEAUTIFUL OBJECT WAS ONE OF THE
PASSING BREAKING, ARTICLES
ABOUT THE STATUS OF WOMEN AND
BEAUTY.
THE ASSAULTS ON MISS AMERICA
PAGEANTS AND OTHER BEAUTY
CONTESTS AND THE ANALYSIS OF
THE BEAUTY CONTEST AS AN
OPPRESSION FOR WOMEN, WERE
BEING MADE IN THE LATE 60S AND,
AND THROUGHOUT THE 70S AND ARE
STILL WITH US.
AND AT THE SAME TIME THE SLOGAN
BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL UM,
DRAMATIZING PEOPLE'S IDEA, THE
POLITICAL CONSTRUCTIONIST
BEAUTY AND THE ARBITRARINESS OF
IT AS WELL, IN BEING A TOOL FOR
OPPRESSION, FOR RACISTS, AS
WELL AS FOR, AS WELL AS FOR
WOMEN.
AT THIS TIME TOO THE FILM
CRITIC LAURA MULVEY, PUBLISHED
HER PATH BREAKING ARTICLE,
“VISUAL PLEASURE AND NARRATIVE
CINEMA,” WHOSE INFLUENCE ON
FEMINISM, CINEMA STUDIES,
LITERARY THEORY AND ART HISTORY
HAS BEEN SIMPLY INCALCULABLE.
ACCORDING TO THIS ARTICLE, NOT
ONLY IS THE VIEWING OF
PORNOGRAPHY AN ACT OF MALE
SUPREMACY.
BUT SO IS SPECTATORSHIP AT ANY
FILM.
IN FILMS QUOTE, HERMETICALLY
SEALED WORLD, WHICH UNWINDS
MAGICALLY.
ANY CINEMATIC EXPERIENCE IS A
BRUSH WITH FREUDIAN
SCOPOPHILIA, IN WHICH ONE READS
WOMAN AS IMAGE, MAN AS BEARER
OF THE LOOK.
ACCORDING TO MULVEY, THE MOVIE
SCREEN BECOMES A MIRROR IN
WHICH MEN ARE CONFIRMED IN
THEIR MASCULINITY AS POWERFUL
AGENTS, AND WOMEN BECOME THE
PASSIVE OBJECTS OF MEN'S
SCOPOPHILIC PLEASURE.
THIS USE OF SCOPOPHILIA, ADDS
MIGHTILY TO THE BURDEN OF THE
IMAGE IN OUR DAY, MAKING THE
ENJOYMENT OF FILMIC IMAGES OF
BEAUTIFUL WOMAN, WOMEN, A
VERITABLE, PSYCHOLOGICAL
DISORDER AND CERTAINLY AN ACT
OF POLITICAL OPPRESSION.
INTERESTINGLY, MULVEY DIDN'T
HAVE TO GO AFTER PAINTED IMAGES
OF BEAUTIFUL WOMEN, SINCE BY
THE 1970S THESE HAD MORE OR
LESS CEASED TO BE MADE.
IN FACT HAD CEASED TO BE MADE
FOR MANY DECADES.
OR WITH POP ART THEY WERE THERE
ONLY IN THE FORM OF, OF, OF
COMMERCIAL QUOTATIONS ALMOST.
UM, IT WAS IN THE PHOTOGRAPHIC
ARTS HOWEVER, THAT THE
BEAUTIFUL WOMAN HAD TAKEN HER
MODERNIST REFUGE, AND THERE THE
OFFENDING IMAGES WERE TO BE
FOUND IN ABUNDANCE.
MULVEY GOES ON TO EXPLAIN THAT
THE PLEASURE OF CINEMA RESULTS
FROM ITS FETISHISTIC MITIGATION
OF LOSS, AS WHEN IT TRANSFORMS
THE FEMALE STAR INTO AN OVER
VALUED CULT OBJECT, THAT IS
QUOTE, SATISFYING IN ITSELF.
WHAT MULVEY ENVISIONS AS AN
ALTERNATIVE ISN'T CLEAR, BUT
SHE'S ABSOLUTELY SURE OF WHAT
SHE DOES NOT WANT.
QUOTE, IT IS SAID THAT
ANALYZING PLEASURE OR BEAUTY
DESTROYS IT.
THAT IS THE INTENTION OF THIS
ARTICLE.
THE SATISFACTION AND
REINFORCEMENT OF THE EGO THAT
REPRESENTS THE HIGH POINT OF
FILM HISTORY, HITHERTO, MUST BE
ATTACKED.
THE FEMINIST
CRITIQUE OF THE FEMALE SUBJECT
IN THE PHOTOGRAPHIC ARTS FALLS
IN WITH A VERY DIFFERENT ANTI-
ORNAMENTALISM OF THE POST-
MODERN PERIOD.
MANY PURIST, MALE CRITICS
DENOUNCED POST-MODERN
ARCHITECTURE BECAUSE IT
CONTAINS THE TRADITIONAL FAULTS
OF THE BEAUTIFUL WOMAN.
DAVID HARVEY FOR EXAMPLE,
DEPLORES QUOTE, AN ARCHITECTURE
OF SPECTACLE WITH A SENSE OF
SURFACE GLITTER AND TRANSITORY
PLEASURE.
OF DISPLAY AND EPHEMERALITY.
OF --
[Speaking French]
She continues ASSOCIATED
WITH ORGASMIC EFFECT.
PLEASURE, LEISURE, SEDUCTION
AND EROTIC LIFE, LUST, GREED,
AND DESIRE.
MARK WIGLEY CORRECTLY POINTS
OUT THAT ALL OF THESE TERMS ARE
TRADITIONALLY APPLIED TO THE

She air quotes ARTIFACT WOMAN.

She continues THE CULTURALLY CONSTRUCTED
FIGURE OF BOTH SEXUALITY AND
SURFACE.
THIS ADDED TO THE FEMINIST
DISAPPROVAL OF THE FETISHIZED
FEMALE IMAGE IN FILM, PRODUCES
ONE OF THOSE UNHOLY
PARNTERSHIPS OF LEFT AND RIGHT,
FEMINISM AND ANTI-FEMINISM, SO
COMMON IN CONTEMPORARY
ESTHETICS.
A THIRD PARTNER IS WHAT WE
MIGHT CALL THE ESTHETIC
ACTIVIST, WHO DISDAINS BEAUTY
AS THE ENEMY OF REFORM.
AS ARTHUR DANTO CLAIMED, ONE IS
LEFT WONDERING WHETHER BEAUTY
HAS ANY PLACE AT ALL, WHEN ONE
EMPLOYS ART TO CHANGE RATHER
THAN LAMENT A POLITICAL
REALITY.
SO, ASSAILED BY FEMINISTS,
PURISTS AND ACTIVISTS, NO
WONDER THE BEAUTIFUL WOMAN, AS
SUBJECT IS SUCH AN IDEOLOGICAL
UNTOUCHABLE IN OUR DAY.
BUT DOES ONE HAVE TO THROW OUT
BEAUTY WITH THE BEAUTIFUL
FEMALE SUBJECT?
AND IS ART REALLY INCAPABLE OF
TOUCHING, OF DEALING WITH THE
BEAUTY OF WOMEN?
THESE ARE QUESTIONS THAT ARE
VERY MUCH WITH US IN ART
CRITICISM THESE DAYS I THINK.
AND THE ANSWER SO FAR SEEMS TO
BE YES, AND NO.

Wendy laughs and says UM, WE SEE
DAVE HICKEY ARGUING THAT THE
ISSUE OF THE 90S WILL BE
BEAUTY, AND INDEED THE
BEAUTIFUL WOMAN DID BEGIN A
SORT OF COMEBACK.
THE IMMENSE POPULARITY OF
CAMILLE PAGLIA'S “SEXUAL
PERSONAE,” AND THE SUBSEQUENT
TRANSFORMATION OF PAGLIA FROM
AN UNKNOWN ENGLISH PROFESSOR,
INTO AN INTELLECTUAL POP STAR
ARE THEMSELVES REACTIONS
AGAINST THE EARLIER SUPPRESSION
OF THE FEMALE FETISH.
SO THE PHENOMENON OF MADONNA,
WHICH INTERESTED PAGLIA SO
INTENSELY, MADONNA ONE MIGHT
SAY IS THE SYMBOL OF THE
DESIRABLE WOMAN WHO HAD BEEN
BANISHED.
MARILYN DRIVEN TO SUICIDE, THE
FETISH, FORBIDDEN.
LIKE ALL OUTLAWED OBJECTS OF
DESIRE, SHE'S AN EMPTY SYMBOL
THAT CAN BE FILLED UP WITH ANY
NEED.
AND HOWARD HAMPTON HAS WRITTEN,
THERE'S A LACANIAN MADONNA, A
BODRIARDRIAN MADONNA, A
FREUDIAN MADONNA, A -û MADONNA,
YOU NAME IT.
ALSO LIKE AN OUTLAWED FETISH,
SHE CAN NEVER BE TOTALLY
ELIMINTATED BUT RETURNS AS
MEMORY OR SIMILARCRIM.
THUS HOWARD HAMPTON WRITES THAT
MADONNA'S BOOK “SEX,” IS ABOUT
NOT THE ACT BUT THE FANTASY, IN
BIG, LATEX QUOTATION MARKS.
ILLICITS ELEGANTLY, IRRITATING
BONDING AND STUDIED DISTANCE,
THE BOOK RECORDS THE USAGE OF
FETISH, ARTIFICE AS DISCOURSE,
AS MEDIUM OF EXCHANGE, RATHER
THAN ITS DRIVING ENERGIES.
AND WE SEEM TO BE BACK IN A WAY
AT MARCEL DUCHAMPS FINAL
STATEMENT ABOUT ART, UM, WHICH
HE PRODUCED OVER THE LAST 20
YEARS OF HIS LIFE, UM, AND
WHICH IS IN THE PHILADELPHIA
MUSEUM OF ART.
AND WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING AT IS
THE VIEW TO A PEEPHOLE IN
WOODEN WALL, THIS IS A WORK
CALLED ÉTANT DONNÉS.
YOU LOOK
THROUGH THIS UM, THIS HOLE,
THESE TWO HOLES, WHERE YOU
EXPOSE YOUR EYES AND YOU SEE IN
THERE UM, A MANNEQUIN SPLAYED
UM, AND VARIOUS THINGS LIKE
LITTLE WATERFALLS AND

Wendy laughs and continues AND A LITTLE
LANDSCAPE.
SO, WHAT YOU'RE GIVEN HERE IN
OTHER WORDS, THE FINAL SORT OF
DEFINITION OF ART THAT THIS
FOUNDER OF CONCEPTUALISM GIVES
US IS THAT ART AMOUNTS TO A
VIEW THROUGH A PEEPHOLE INTO A
MANNEQUIN'S CROTCH.
AH, A SIMILAR STYLIZATION OF
THE FETISHIZED WOMAN, REDUCING
DESIRE TO ITS QUOTATIONS.
THE NEXT STEP IS A WORK LIKE
NEIL JORDAN'S BRILLIANT FILM,
“THE CRYING GAME,” IN WHICH
FEMALE BEAUTY AND ALLURE ARE
THOROUGHLY FETISHIZED AND
APPRECIATED, BUT NOT IN A
WOMAN.
SEEMINGLY, THE ONLY WAY TO
HOUSE BEAUTY, GENTLENESS, LO
AND DESIRABILITY, THE
TRADITIONAL IDEALIZATION OF
WOMAN, IS IN A TRANSVESTITE
IMITATION.
IN THIS FILM THE CLIMACTIC
TRAUMA COMES NOT IN THE
DISCOVERY OF THE CASTRATED
WOMAN, WHICH IS THE CLIMAX OF
THE FREUDIAN FETISH, BUT IN THE
REVELATION THAT SHE'S NOT
CASTRATED AT ALL, FOR SHE'S NOT
A WOMAN, BUT A MALE SIMILARCRUM
OF FEMINITY REQUIRING
CASTRATION, THE CUTTING OF HER
LUXURIANT HAIR IN ORDER FOR HER
TO BECOME A MAN.
IN AS WELL, THE PARADOXICAL
LOGIC SET AGAINST THE REAL LIFE
VIOLENCE OF THE IRA,
FEMININITY, BECOMES A SET OF
INFINITELY DESIRABLE TRAITS
THAT CAN BE FOUND ONLY IN THE
RAREST OF CREATURES, LEAST OF
ALL A WOMAN.
THIS TRANSVESTITE ESTHETIC IS
EVERYWHERE VISIBLE IN
PHOTOGRAPHY, AND ROBERT
MAPPLETHORPE'S PHOTOGRAPHIC
SERIES OF THE FEMALE BODY
BUILDER, LISA LYON, IDEALIZED,
FEMALE BEAUTY AS THE STUFF OF
MUSCLE DEFINITION IN THE
CLASSICISTIC POSE.
THE WORK OF YASUMASA MORIMURA
TAKES THIS MOVE EVEN FURTHER.
MORIMOORA LIKE CINDY SHERMAN
PHOTOGRAPHS HIMSELF IN 100
POSES.

A split painting depicts the same woman wearing traditional and colourful clothes on the left and on the right.

She continues SO THESE COME NOT FROM THE
HISTORY OF FILM, BUT FROM
PAINTING.
MOREOVER AS A JAPANESE MAN HE'S
NOT AS GOOD A MIMIC OF THE
BEAUTIFUL WOMAN, WOMEN OF PRE-
MODERNIST ART, A SHERMAN IS OF
FILM STEREOTYPES.
SOME OF THESE IMPERSONATIONS
ARE REALLY TOUR DE FORCE.
SO THIS IS MORIMOORA HIMSELF
POSING IN THIS WORK AS HIS PART
OF SIX BRIDES.
HERE IS ONE CALLED, “FAN.”
HERE IS, NO, WRONG SLIDE, I
KNEW IT WOULD HAPPEN.
ALL RIGHT, THERE'S QUEEN AND
FAN, AND DOG RATHER, BUT OTHER,
THESE ARE ALL WONDERFUL JOKES
ABOUT ART.
BUT ONE OF THEM IS A
PARTICULARLY GOOD JOKE ON THE
HISTORY OF ART.

[Audience laughs]

Wendy continues AH, SURELY
ONE CANNOT IMAGINE AN UGLIER,
VERSION OF VELASQUEZ'S,
“INFANTA” THAN MORIMOORA'S
IMPERSONATION IN DAUGHTER OF
ART HISTORY, PRINCESS A, FROM
THE PAINTING THAT LAUNCHED A
THOUSAND ART, AH, THEORIES.
AT THIS TOPSY-TURVY MOMENT IN
THE HISTORY OF ART AND GENDER,
RICHARD SHER HAS DREDGED UP THE
TOC OF THE TATTOO.
NOT MUCH SEEN IN 20TH CENTURY
ART, SINCE ADOLF LOSS'
DIATRIBE, “ORNAMENTS IN CRIME.”
BUT IN THIS CASE THE TATTOO IS
NOT WORN BY A PAPUAN OR BY A
CRIMINAL BUT BY A WOMAN.
THE TATTOOED WOMAN IS
THE FETISH
MARKED FETISH, THE ORNAMENT,
ORNAMENTED.
WHAT MAKES THE TATTOO SO USEFUL
A SYMBOL OF THE POST-MODERN
STRUGGLE OVER THE FEMALE FETISH
IS THAT IT CANNOT BE DETACHED.
IT FUSES WITH
THE WOMAN WHO WEARS IT.
AN INEXTRICABLE ADDITION THAT
PARTICIPATES IN THE VERY,
AMBIGUITY BETWEEN ESSENCE AND
ACCIDENT, INTRINSICNESS AND
EXTRINSICNESS, FORM AND SUBJECT
MATTER THAT DERRIDA ASCRIBES.
BY WRITING ON HERSELF, OR BY
BEING WRITTEN UPON, THE WOMAN
BECOMES THE BEARER OF THE
TATTOO'S MESSAGE.
HER IDENTITY IS SIGNIFIED IN
HER CARRYING OUT THIS
SIGNIFYING ACT.
THE ISSUE IS WHAT CONTROL DOES
SHE HAVE OVER THIS PICTURE
ETCHED UPON HER?
AND WHAT CONTROL OVER OTHER ON
THE OTHER HAND, DOES IT
EXERCISE?
CONSIDER THE FETISHISTIC TATTOO
IN JOHN HAWKES' EARLY POST-
MODERN NOVEL, “TRAVESTY” FROM
1970.
IN THIS NOVEL, THE, A CHARACTER
CALLED HONORINE, WHO DOES NOT
HERSELF APPEAR BUT IS TALKED
ABOUT BY THE OTHER CHARACTERS,
SERVES AS THE MUSE, THE WIFE,
THE LOVER OR THE MOTHER OF
EVERYBODY WHO'S IN THE BOOK.
UM, AND SHE IS DESCRIBED AS
APPEARING PERHAPS TO BE AN
ORDINARY WOMAN OF HER CLASS.
HOWEVER THE BEAUTY OF
HONOURINE, IS THAT SHE CONTAINS
WITHIN HERSELF PRECISELY THE
DISCRETION AND CHARM, AND
SENSUAL CERTAINTY WE COULD NOT
HAVE IMAGINED.
IT IS HER TATTOO THAT SIGNALS
THIS BEAUTY.
THERE, ADORNING THAT SMALL AREA
BETWEEN NAVAL AND PUBIC HAIR,
THERE YOU SEE THE CLUSTER OF
PALE, PURPLE GRAPES ON YELLOW
STEMS, YELLOW STEM THAT COILS
DOWN FROM THE NAVAL OF OUR
HONOURINE.
OR TO PUT IT ANOTHER WAY THAT
CROWNS THE EROGENOUS CONTOURS
OF OUR HONOURINE.
GRAPES -û A TATTOO OF SMOKEY
GRAPES THAT MOVED WHEN SHE
BREATHED, OR WHENEVER THERE IS
THE SLIGHTEST FATHOM OR
UNDULATION IN HER ABDOMEN.
AFTER SEEING THEM, WHO WOULD
RISK ANY CONSTRICTING
DEFINITION OF OUR HONOURINE?
BUT WHAT IS THERE ABOUT A
TATTOO THAT CAN CHANGE AN
ATTRACTIVE, BUT CONVENTIONAL
WOMAN, INTO A WOMAN DEFINING
ANY CONSTRICTING DEFINITION
WHATSOEVER?
THE ANSWER LIES IN THE MEANING
OF ORNAMENTS, IN ITS CONNECTION
TO SENSUALITY, FEMININITY, ART,
FETISHISM AND ULTIMATELY THE
PROJECT OF POST-MODERNISM.
IN THE CASE OF HONOURINE'S
TATTOO, THE ORNAMENT IS A
DOUBLING.
ITS' CENTRAL OUVI, RE GRAPES,
REPEAT THE OVARIES BENEATH
THEM, AND BY THAT VERY SUPER
ABUNDANCE TRANSFORM THIS
ORDINARY, GENTEEL, WOMAN, INTO
A PRINCIPLE OF DESIRE.
AN OBJECT, CAPABLE OF
GENERATING PLOTS.
HERS IS NOT JUST SEXUALITY, BUT
A SEXUALITY THAT SIGNIFIES
ITSELF.
SHE IS NOT JUST A WOMAN, BUT
AN ARTIST OF THE SELF, A WITTY
DEFIER OF DECORUM THROUGH THE
ACT OF SELF-DECORATION.
IN THIS RESPECT, SHE SEEMS TO
BE A JAZZED UP LILY BART,
DREDGED UP FROM OBLIVION BY AN
OLD-STYLE FETISHIST, JOHN
HAWKES, WHO ACTS AS IF THE DAYS
OF SUCH FANTASY WOMEN ARE, ARE
NOT OVER.
AND YET HONOURINE IS ANYTHING
BUT THE FIGURE OF DOOM THAT
LILY BART'S REPRESENTING.
SHE RIGHTS HERSELF THAT IS
HONOURINE DOES, RIGHTS HERSELF
THROUGH HER TATTOO, AND SHE HAS
A WIDE RANGE OF SELF
EXPRESSION.
HER POWER AT THE SAME TIME IS
NOT A TYRANNY OVER OTHERS, BUT
THE MORE ACCEPTABLE VIOLENCE OF
FASCINATION, WHICH COEXISTS
WITH DISAPPOINTMENT AND
WEAKNESS.
YET “TRAVESTY” IN FACT IS FULL
OF FETISHISTIC OBJECTS WHO'S
ACTUAL CONTROL OVER PEOPLE IS
VERY QUESTIONABLE INDEED.
TO PLAY THE FASCINATING WOMAN
IS THUS AS RISKY AS WEARING A
TATTOO.
BUT NOT TO RISK IT, IS TO LEAD
A LIFE IN TERMS OF THE BOOK
THAT IS MARKED ONLY BY
BANALITY.
AS ONE OF JENNY HOLTZER'S
RUBBER STAMPS PUTS IT, LACK OF
CHARISMA CAN BE FATAL.
THE CLASH OF CONTEMPORARY
SEXUAL IDEOLOGIES IS BEING
WRITTEN THROUGH THE TATTOO
ORNAMENT.
FOR THE ANTI-PORNOGRAPHY
POLEMICIST AND NOVELIST, ANDREA
DWARKIN, THE TATTOO IS A SIGN
OF WOMEN'S POWERLESSNESS.
THE PROTAGANIST OF HER NOVEL,
MERCY, SEES MALE VIOLENCE
WRITING ITSELF UPON WOMEN'S
BODIES AS A FORCED DEFAMATION
OF THE FREEDOM AND SELFHOOD
THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN THEIR
LOSS.
AND SHE WRITES, THE ONLY SIGNS
OF EXISTENCE ARE ON YOU.
YOU CARRY THEM ON YOU.
THE MARKS, THE BRUISES, THE
SCARS.
YOUR BODY GETS MARKED WHERE YOU
EXIST.
IT'S A HISTORY BOOK WITH THE
SIGNS OF CIVILIZED LIFE,
COMMUNICATION, THE CITY, THE
SOCIETY, BELLE LEFT, A
PRIMITIVE ALPHABET OF BLOOD AND
PAIN, THE FLESH POEM.
YOUR BODY, THE PAPER, AND THE
POEM, THE PRESS AND THE INK,
THE FINGER AND THE SONG, IT'S
REAL, IT'S LITERAL, THIS SONG
OF MYSELF.
YOU'RE WHAT THERE IS.
THE MEDIUM, THE MESSAGE, THE
SIGN, THE SIGNIFIER, AN
AUTISTIC POEM.
TATTOOED BOYS ARE YOUR FRIENDS.
THEY WRITE THE WORDS ON THEIR
SKIN.
BUT YOUR SKIN GETS USED UP,
SCRAPED AWAY EVERY TIME THEY
PUSH YOU DOWN.
SO IN DWARKIN'S IMAGE, THE
WOMEN'S BODY IS THE TATTOO.
IT SIGNIFIES WHAT IT IS.
IT COLLAPSES THE DISTINCTION
BETWEEN SIGN AND REALITY IN ITS
LITERALISM, AND THE SELF IT
BESPEAKS OF THE VICTIM.
MEN CAN TATTOO THEMSELVES, BUT
WOMEN ARE TATTOOED BY MEN AND
THE TATTOO IS NOT A PRETTY
DESIGN BUT AN OBLITERATION OF
DESIGN AND OF THE SELF.
THAT IS INDISTINGUISHABLE AT
THE SAME TIME FROM DESIGN, THE
SKIN VIOLENTLY OR ARTFULLY
SCRAPED AWAY.
INSTEAD OF A POSITIVE MARK, THE
WOMAN'S TATTOO IS A WOUND, AN
EFACEMENT, AN, ERASURE.
THAT FOR DWARKIN IS THE REAL
MEANING OF CONVENTIONAL FEMALE
IDENTITY.
THE TATTOO, THE ORNAMENT, THE
FETISH, LAID BARE AS PAIN AND
ABSENCE.
BUT OTHER CONTEMPORARY WRITERS
HAVE PICTURED THE FLESH TATTOO
STILL DIFFERENTLY.
IN TONI MORRISON'S “BELOVED,”
THE SLAVE, SETHE, IS BEATEN
TILL HER BACK IS RAW.
THIS CRUEL MARKING BECOMES THE
OCCASION FOR A WHITE GIRL'S
KINDNESS.
A GIRL CALLED AMY, MEANING
FRIEND, OR EVEN, BELOVED.
AMY LAID HEALING COBWEBS ON
SETHE'S BACK AND RENAMES THE
WOUNDS A CHOKE CHERRY TREE.
THE SCAR THAT TURNS INTO A
TATTOO, FROM A SIGN OF INJURY
TO A PIECE OF FANTASY, AS
REALITY BEGINS TO MARK SETHE'S
LOVE RATHER THAN HATRED.
THESE LITERARY TATTOOS INDICATE
THE RANGE OF CONFLICTING
ATTITUDES TOWARDS WOMEN'S
BODIES AND THEIR SELFHOOD, BUT
ALSO TOWARD WHAT WOMEN
HAVE SYMBOLIZED IN ART.
THE ALLURE OF BEAUTY, A BEAUTY
THAT SIGNALS ITSELF.
I WOULD ADD ONE FINAL ATTITUDE
THAT HAS BEGUN TO APPEAR OF
LATE, EXHAUSTION WITH THE WHOLE
TOPIC.
Laughing, Wendy says AS YOU
PROBABLY ARE BY NOW.
She continues ONE OF THE
FUNNIEST PRESENTATIONS OF THIS
EXASPERATION IS A.S. BYATT
STORY, “THE CHINESE LOBSTER,”
IN THE MATISSE STORIES.
IN IT, THE FEMALE CHAIR OF AN
ART HISTORY DEPARTMENT NAMED
DR. HIMMELBLAU, MUST HANDLE THE
COMPLAINT OF A RADICAL,
FEMINIST, GRADUATE STUDENT, WHO
IS WRITING A DISSERTATION ON
THE FEMALE BODY AND MATISSE.
DR. HIMMELBLAU HAS GIVEN THE
JOB OF DIRECTING HER THESIS TO
A DISTINGUISHED, VISITING
SCHOLAR CALLED PERRY DISS,
PERRY DISS, A MAN.
UM, UNFORTUNATELY THE STUDENT
LETTER OF COMPLAINT IS QUITE
ILLITERATE AND BIAS, BYATT
REALLY DUMPS ON HER IN THIS
WAY.
AND SO HER PETITION DOESN'T
SOUND VERY STRONG, ALTHOUGH IT
SEEMS TO ME SHE'S VERY
PERCEPTIVE ABOUT THE WAY THAT
MATISSE TREATS WOMEN.
BUT SEE WHAT YOU THINK.
I HAD WRITTEN SOME NOTES ON
MATISSE'S DISTORTIONS OF THE
FEMALE BODY WITH RESPECT
ESPECIALLY TO THE SPECIFICALLY
FEMALE ORGANS, THE BREASTS, THE
CUNT, THE LABIA, ETCETERA,
ETCETERA.
AND ALSO TO HER WAYS OF
ACCUMULATING FLESH ON CERTAIN
PARTS OF THE BODY WHICH APPEAL
TO MEN, AND TEND TO IMMOBILIZE
WOMEN, SUCH AS GROTESQUELY,
SWOLLEN, THIGHS OR PROTRUDING
STOMACH.
I MEAN TO CONNECT THIS IN TIME
TO THE WHOLE TRADITION OF THE
DEPICTION OF FEMALE SLAVES AND
ODYLISKS.
ALSO HIS WOMEN TEND TO HAVE NO
FEATURES ON THEIR FACES.
THEY ARE BLANK LIKE DOLLS.
I FIND IT SINISTER.
THE DISTINGUISHED, VISITING
PROFESSOR ARGUED WITH ME, AND
WENT SO FAR AS TO SAY I WAS
HOSTILE AND FULL OF HATRED TO
MATISSE.
I SAID THIS WAS NOT A RELEVANT
CRITICISM OF MY WORK AND THAT
MATISSE WAS HOSTILE AND FULL OF
HATRED TOWARDS WOMEN.
HE SAID
MATISSE WAS FULL OF LOVE AND
DESIRE TOWARDS WOMEN, AND I
SAID, EXACTLY, BUT HE DID NOT
TAKE THE POINT.

Wendy and the audience chuckle.

Wendy continues DOCTOR
HIMMELBLAU DECIDES TO TAKE DR.
DISS FOR LUNCH IN A CHINESE
RESTAURANT IN ORDER TO
INVESTIGAGE THE GRADUATE
STUDENT'S CLAIM.
AND SHE DISCOVERS THAT HE IS
INDEED HOSTILE TO THE STUDENT
AND TOTALLY UNSYMPATHETIC TO
HER CHARGES AGAINST MATISSE AND
AGAINST HIM.
AND HE SAYS, I WONDER IF THAT
OLD GOAT, PICASSOO, PICASSO,
WHO DID THINGS TO WOMEN'S
BODIES OUT OF GENUINE MALICE,
WHY MATISSE?
AND THEN HE ANSWERS HIS OWN
QUESTION.
IT'S NOT HOW MATISSE TREATED
WOMEN THAT BOTHERS THE STUDENT,
BUT HOW HE TREATED BEAUTY.
AND DOCTOR DISS SAYS, HE PAINTED
SILENT BLISS --

She speaking French and continues
AND THIS IS
THE PAINTING BY THAT NAME, BY
MATISSE.

A painting shows a relaxed scene by a river.

She continues AND THEN DOCTOR DISS QUOTES
MATISSE ON THE SUBJECT.
WHAT I DREAM OF IS AN ART OF
BALANCE, OF PURITY, OF
QUIETNESS, WITHOUT ANY
DISTURBING SUBJECTS, WITHOUT
WORRY, WHICH MAY BE FOR
EVERYONE WHO WORKS WITH THE
MIND, BUT A BUSINESSMAN AS MUCH
AS FOR THE LITERARY ARTIST.
SOMETHING SOOTHING, SOMETHING
TO CALM THE BRAIN.
SOMETHING ANALAGOUS TO A GOOD
ARM CHAIR, WHICH RELAXES HIM
FROM HIS BODILY, MERRIMENTS.
PLEASURE IS LIFE, DR. DISS
CONCLUDES AND MOST OF US DON'T
HAVE IT OR NOT MUCH OR MESS IT
UP.
AND WHEN WE SEE IT IN THOSE
BLUES, THOSE ROSES, THOSE
ORANGES, THAT VERMILLION WE
SHOULD FALL
DOWN AND WORSHIP, FOR IT IS THE
THING ITSELF, UNQUE.
DOCTOR HIMMELBLAU IS LEFT TRYING
TO IMAGINE HOW SHE CAN EVER
EXPLAIN THIS TO THE ANGRY
STUDENT.

[Laughter]

Wendy continues MATISSE'S AND
DOCTOR DISS' RETREAT INTO
MODERNIST FORM IS A STATE OF
BLISS THAT WE MUST OFTEN YEARN
FOR.
BUT THAT AT THE MOMENT WE
CANNOT RETURN TOAND SO WE'RE
LEFT WITH MARLENE DUMAS IMAGE
AS BURDEN, AS OUR FINAL
EXHIBIT.
THE BURDEN OF THE IMAGE, OF
FEMALE BEAUTY AND ESTHETIC
PLEASURE HAS GROWN HEAVY
INDEED.
AND YET FROM THE IMAGE'S
BURDEN, WE CAN LEARN MUCH ABOUT
THE HISTORY OF 20TH CENTURY
ESTHETICS.
THANKS, VERY MUCH.

[Audience applauding]

Watch: Wendy Steiner on Beauty As a Subject in Art: Female Body