Show simple item record

dc.contributor.convenorMichael Pearce
dc.contributor.authorKane, Kay Kay
dc.contributor.editorMichael Pearce
dc.description.abstractThis paper takes up Wendy Steiner’s argument in the Exile of Venus that the history of twentieth century art is one of resistance to the female subject as symbol of beauty. Steiner claimed that, following Kant’s theory of the sublime, the identification of feminine beauty with impurity was taken to extremes by avant-garde modernists who aimed to destroy beauty. In contrast to Steiner, I argue that the quest for purity in modernism took art in two different directions, one toward an ideal of purity in increasing abstraction and minimalism, the other toward the deliberate portrayal of ugliness based on an assumption that reality was, after all, not beautiful, truthfulness demanding this be reflected honestly in art. Needless to say, the female subject fared ill in either mode. The refinement of beauty in abstraction eliminated the female form (and all forms) altogether. More pointedly, the rejection of beauty in self-consciously ugly art implied and encouraged a misogynistic denigration of woman that led to a century of pornography, shock and alienation. The question addressed in this paper is whether the problematic power of female beauty, now widely used and debased in popular culture, can any longer be used for artistic purposes without appearing a retrograde or repressive enterprise. Referencing my own work – in particular five large painted panels deploying multiple nudes integrated into a rainforest landscape – I answer this question in the positive, the image of restoring Venus implying a reaction to, and rejection of, the misogynistic modernist tendency.
dc.publisherCalifornia Lutheran University
dc.publisher.placeVentura, California
dc.relation.ispartofconferencenameThe Representational Art Conference
dc.relation.ispartofconferencetitleThe Restoration of Venus: the Nude, Beauty and Modernist Misogyny
dc.relation.ispartoflocationVentura, California
dc.subject.fieldofresearchArt Criticism
dc.titleThe Restoration of Venus: the Nude, Beauty and Modernist Misogyny
dc.typeConference output
dc.type.descriptionE2 - Conferences (Non Refereed)
gro.facultyQueensland College of Art
gro.hasfulltextNo Full Text
gro.griffith.authorKane, Kay K.

Files in this item


There are no files associated with this item.

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

  • Conference outputs
    Contains papers delivered by Griffith authors at national and international conferences.

Show simple item record