Tuesday, May 10, 2011
The theme of my blog is about the roles that women have played over time. There has always been a stereotype about what a woman is “expected” to do. Throughout history, women have earned their rights and proven themselves to be more than just the stereotypical housewife. The images below portray how the women have evolved over time. Artists used their artwork to make statements or to express their views on women in society. To this day there are people who remain sexist, however women continue to prove what they are capable of achieving.
“Rosie the Riveter” by Norman Rockwell was done as a cultural icon for the United States. It represented the American women that were working in factories during World War 2. Many of the women had to take on new jobs while the men were in the military and Rosie became a feminist icon. The term “Rosie the Riveter” became known in 1942 because of a song that was eventually recorded many times. The song portrays “Rosie” as a dedicated assembly line worker doing her job to support the American war effort. Women were expected to return to their “normal” household work as soon as the men returned from the war. There were government campaigns solely for women that were housewives. “Rosie the Riveter” inspired a social movement that caused the number of working women to increase to 20 million by 1944. It reflected the work of riveters and many women eventually were able to prove to themselves and their country that they were capable of doing a “man’s job” and do it well. Jobs became more available for women and were looked as more appropriate for women.
The women were influenced and believed that it was their patriotic duty to enter the work force. Rosie the Riveter is said by some to be the reason that the work force opened to women but others disagree due to the fact that many women lost their jobs when the men came back from the war. There is a quote from Leila J. Rupp from her study of World War II that states "For the first time, the working woman dominated the public image. Women were riveting housewives in slacks, not mother, domestic beings, or civilizers.” In 2000, the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park was opened which signifies where thousands of “Rosies” worked. There are four Kaiser Ship yards at this park. A documentary was also created explaining in detail the history of Rosie. There have been various paintings and posters done of “Rosie the Riveter” (Rosie the Riveter).
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Rosie the Riveter, Wikipedia April 9 2011 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosie_the_Riveter
“Liberty Leading the People”, painted by Eugene Delacroix in 1830 is an oil painting portraying the July Revolution. It was created in response to the political upheaval that resulted in the overthrow of the reigning monarch, Charles X. This is his most known piece of work which shows the struggle of the people fighting for Liberty. He was known as the leader in his school of French painting. He painted his work in 1830. He was quoted saying "My bad mood is vanishing thanks to hard work. I’ve embarked on a modern subject, a barricade. And if I haven’t fought for my country at least I’ll paint for her” (Liberty Leading the People). He painted an allegorical goddess-figure, but also a strong woman. The cap that she wears symbolizes Liberty during the French Revolution. This painting has become a symbol of the end of the Age of Enlightenment. The fighters in the painting are all a mixture of the social classes. They all have different apparel but contain the same determination in their faces. It has been said that the man with the top hat is a self-portrait of Delacroix. It was also suggested that it was the model theatre director Etienne Arago, but it was never confirmed. This painting inspired the creation of the Statue of Liberty in New York City which was given to the United States from the French 50 years after this painting was done. This painting has had a large influence on classical music. Delacroix used this painting as a political poster during the Revolution. This painting was first exhibited at the official Paris Salon in May 1831.
In this painting Delacroix uses vibrant colors and traces of pure pigment. The effects of the sharp primary colors go well with the subject of the painting. There are areas that are brightly reflective and adjacent areas of dark shadow. There is a variety of human emotion and it is full of historical reference. It is a traditional signifier of Parisian rebellion (Smart History). “Liberty Leading the People” shows the differences between the romantic approach and the neoclassical style. The symbolic female figure is slightly illuminated and draws most of the attention to her. To have a woman signifying such a strong, important topic was a big deal (Liberty Leading the People). Women were not given any credit. They had a very strict and expected lifestyle. Over time women were given a bigger role in society which is shown by Delacriox painting a women leading the people and representing Liberty. Women’s rights evolved over time as you can see by comparing “the Washer Women” and the “Liberty Leading the People.”
Smart History, Romanticism in France: Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People, http://smarthistory.org/romanticism-in-france.html
Liberty Leading the People, Wikipedia March 31 2011 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eug%C3%A8ne_Delacroix
There are two versions of “The Washer Women” done by Abram Efimovich Arkhipov (1862-1930) in 1899. He was a poor Russian realist painter who often drew women in harsh conditions. The main theme of his work was Russian Women working. He paid particular attention to the light, rhythm, and the texture in his work. He had shown a love for painting at an early age and won many awards at school for his artwork. He was a part of the Union of Russian Artists and The Wanderers. He was titled People’s Artist of the USSR.
In the First Version of the painting he shows many peasant women working to clean the village’s laundry. He painted from real life washhouses for his models. He went to many different washhouses searching for the perfect model and when he finally found her, he was almost finished with the painting. He ended up redesigning the entire painting using this perfect model which was an old woman sitting hunched over exhausted in the corner. The women all look defeated and rugged. Based on a series of studies he did on life in the wash-house, he depicts the harshness and inhumaneness that women dealt with. He uses an ultra-realist muted color palette in these two paintings. He uses sfumato to produce soft transitions between the colors, tones, and shadows. The light coming in from the small window in the back highlights the harsh steam coming up from under their hands as they wash the clothing. Many of the details stay the same in both painting such as their hair being tightly tied back and the woman in the back. The women are all working in the first painting whereas the second one focuses on an elderly woman talking a break. There is less color and it is more zoomed in than the first. These peasant women were expected to work hard in the searing heat for very little. Arkhipov’s paintings are very realistic. This was an important piece in history revealing much about the conditions in the USSR during this time by showing the truth behind the closed doors of the washhouses. Women at that time were not able to get a good job. Women were “not capable” of doing a man’s work so when they did get a job, the conditions were harsh. The hours were long and the steam was hot, however women were making a statement by working. His work can be found mostly in the Tretyakov Gallery and the Byelorussian Museum of Art in Minsk.
Abram Efimovich Arkhipov, The Washer Women, http://www.thefamousartists.com/arkhipov/the-washer-women
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