Painting the Difference
Sex and Spectator in Modern Art
Arguing that the representation of women in art was crucial to the character of modernity, Harrison traces the history of female subjects as they began to gaze out of the picture to confront and engage their viewers. Combining sweeping conceptual history with telling investigations into the details of particular paintings, Painting the Difference deciphers the implications of sexual difference for the development of nineteenth- and twentieth-century art. Harrison shows how artists, reflecting the underlying anxieties of the time about gender, used female subjects' gazes both to create a sexualized relationship between these subjects and their viewers, and to simultaneously question that relationship. In considering works by artists such as Renoir, Manet, Degas, Cézanne, Picasso, and Matisse, as well as Rothko, Warhol, Cindy Sherman, and many more, Harrison incorporates elements of cultural criticism and social history into his arguments, and generous color illustrations permit the reader to test Harrison's claims against the works on which they are based. Rich with detail and compelling analysis, Painting the Difference offers cutting-edge interpretation grounded in the reality of magnificent works of art.
“Painting the Difference complicates routine assumptions about the sexism of male artists and viewers, and raises useful questions about the history of seeing.”
“Taken together these chapters serve to demonstrate how careful looking can provide new insight into the making and meaning of iconic works. Conceptually challenging and rich in detail, this is an attractive volume with a generous number of illustrations, both in color and black and white, that help to support the author's claims and argument.”
“The strength of [Harrison’s] approach is not to reduce the reality of sexual difference to an iconographic or socio-historic question, but to treat it on the very surface of painting, through the devices it invents and the complex games it suggests to the viewer.”
Introductions and Acknowledgments
I. Looking Out, Looking In
1. The Picture Plane
II. Fantasy and Imagination
III. Modern Feeling
5. Degas, Part One
6. Degas, Part Two
7. Morisot and Cassatt: "A Woman's Painting"
IV. Public and Private
8. The Early Twentieth Century
10. Matisse and Bonnard: "Painting the Emotions"
V. Painting the Unseen
12. The Later Twentieth Century