Seminar Class 09/12/12

The main topic of class on wednesday was about the idea of gaze in an artwork. Gaze is defined as a way of looking at or admiring something. In order to get a better understanding of what gaze is, we looked at an excerpt in chapter three in the book Ways of Seeing. This excerpt compared the appearance of men and the appearance of women. It discussed how women must always look their best and presentable while men do not. Women are judged more on their appearance than men are. To look at a few examples of this, we compared the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci to a photo of the famous actor Robert De Niro. In the Mona Lisa, there is a picture of a women who is dressed to impress. We know that she is dressed in high quality clothing because the material on her sleeves looks like it was made of silk. This gives us the idea that she is an upper class woman. Her hair is done is beautifully placed curls and she also has a veil or hair net on to make sure her hair is always looking perfect. This gives the audience a good impression of her because of her modest and presentable look. However, when looking at the picture of Robert De Niro, he still gives the audience a good impression even though he does not look his best. In his picture, De Niro has aged. He has wrinkles on his face and gray colored hair. He has a five o’clock shadow on his face and his hair is not combed back nicely. Even though he may not seem presentable, the people of today’s society still think highly of him. Basically, he s allowed to look this way just because he is Robert De Niro. If a commoner looked the same way De Niro did in this picture, people would view this man as a bum instead. This shows that no matter how famous a women may be, she must always look presentable to get approval of the public. However, this idea does not apply to men.

In class, we also discussed the artwork of Edward Hopper and tried to analyze his style. One of his paintings that I found particularly interesting was American Landscape. In this painting, Hopper shows a house on a farm with some farm animals. It seems that there is also a road or train track about the house which implies that the house is located on the bottom of a hill. It is a picture of a typical American landscape. Hopper painted this in a three dimensional style horizontally. The three dimensions include the  sky at the top, then the house with the forestry in the background on the bottom of the hill, and then the top of the hill with the hay, train track, and farm animals. Another painting of Edward Hopper that I enjoyed was New York Interior. This painting shows the back of a women who is presumed to be a dancer because she is dressed in a ball gown. She is located in a small apartment in New York City and is sitting down on a sofa or bed next to a fireplace. Similarly to American Landscape, New York Interior is also painted three dimensionally. However, instead of it being painted horizontally it is painted vertically. The walls are vertical, the door in the background is vertical, and the structure of the fireplace and its columns are vertical as well. As a result of looking at these two paintings, I conclude that Edward Hopper’s style is to painting according to dimension and shape. In his paintings, he does not hide his shapes but instead makes them visible to the public eye.