Tuesday, March 5, 2024

The Male Gaze

L'Origine du monde by Courbet (1866)

The wanton pose of Courbet's model in "The Origine du monde" provokes leering as well as lust. It superannuates discussions over the male gaze. Is it the model herself--whose identity has long been a subject of speculation--or the painting that's the siren luring Odysseus? The feeling Courbet created is too loud to be sublime but it's nevertheless disconcerting and disturbing both in a good way. Sexuality of an overpowering sort (one that, say, makes a viewer want to have sex with a painting) is usually not associated with estheticism. The viewer is left with a feeling of stimulation that's the opposite of repose. It's akin to Scottie in Vertigo who has actually fallen for someone who doesn't exist, for an apparition. Have you ever had a dream of yearning for a creature who's nothing more than an invention of your imagination? When you wake up and attempt to chase it, there's no clue, no footprint.  It's almost demonic since it crosses the line into desire--a desire which can be embodied but ultimately never satiated. 

and see the invite for Hallie Cohen's show, Mi Ricordo: Roman Watercolors, opening on February 29

and listen to Joan Baum's NPR review of The Kafka Studies Department by Francis Levy

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