This differ stylistically; for example, Dearest Art

This essay will compare the Guerrilla Girls’ drawing
‘Dearest art collector’, referred to
in this essay as drawing 1, to Henri
Matisse’ ‘Reclining Nude’, referred
to as drawing 2. Both drawings focus on the subject of women, however, the way
in which they depict women is very different. The aim of this essay is to
analyse how these drawings reflect the role of women in art and society at the
time of their creation. Topics of exploration include the objectification of
women, the role of women in society and the representation of women artists in
galleries. This essay will also look at the provocative nature of both
drawings; one is provocative in a sexual manor, whilst the other aims to
provoke a response.


Comparison points of the two drawings will be the techniques
used to create them; The Guerrilla Girls’ use of screen-printing compared to
Matisse’ choice of charcoal. There will also be a comparison of how they differ
stylistically; for example, Dearest Art
Collector makes use of written language whilst Reclining Nude does not. This essay will also examine how the
features of the drawings help their purpose and the effect on the intended

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This essay argues that a
main difference between the two drawings is the style and the way in which they
were produced. ‘Dearest Art Collector’ was created using
screen-printing. It could be argued that it is not technically a drawing as it
has been generated in the style of a handwritten letter. The Guerrilla Girls
became known for their ‘use of language as a primary visual
element’. (Broude, Brodsky and
Garrard, 1994) They have made use of
bold black lettering in a curly, perhaps, girly style. The pink background of
the drawing also encourages ideas of femininity. This use of stereotypically
feminine lettering and colour was purposeful; the image almost looks like a
young girl could have created it. The temperate presentation supports the calm
nature of the writing. The artists do not demand anything in their ‘letter’,
they sarcastically state that galleries have made a mistake, and they “know”
that they will “rectify the situation immediately” (Geurrilla Girls, 1986) It
could be argued that they are mocking the ideas that society have of
femininity. Although their presentation appears girlish and obedient, their ideology
remains strong.


The only literal representation
of drawing on the piece is a flower with a sad face in the centre of it on at
the top of the image. The emphasis on text rather than drawing comes from the
Guerrilla Girls’ appropriation of the visuals used in advertising such as fly
posting. They used bold text to ‘convey their messages in a quick and
accessible manner.’ (Manchester, 2004/2005) Catching the viewer’s eye was the most important
aspects of their work.


Similarly, ‘Reclining Nude’ was produced to catch
the viewer’s eye, however, not for the purpose of sharing a message but to
display the beauty of the subject. The drawing is part Matisse’ series known as
the ‘odalisques’ –  “The term ‘odalisque’ originates from the
Turkish word Odalik, meaning
female harem slave or chambermaid” (Wilkinson, 2015) Matisse was inspired
by a trip to Morocco he had taken in 1912. He wanted to recreate the atmosphere
of what he had seen in his drawings. He did this by decorating his studio with
tapestries, mirrors and artefacts. The model appearing in the drawing, Henriette Darricarrière, was a dancer, pianist and
painter. Perhaps superficial, Matisse chose her due to her beauty. He wanted to create beautiful drawings and therefore
chose “inherently harmonious subjects, like the female
nude” (Carrier, 2004)


Using charcoal on paper, a more
traditional medium than that used by the Guerrilla Girls, Matisse uses his tool
to create ‘a tonal mist’ in the drawing. (Russell, 1919, p.62) The artist uses dark lines to
outline the figure, creating a realistic image of his subject. He uses his
medium to create shadow. The dark tones of the background heighten the
atmosphere Matisse was trying to create and the subtle shading of the nude
female body intensifies the sexuality of the drawing.


This essay will critically
analyse the representation of women in both drawings. ‘Dearest Art Collector’ heavily focuses on women without actually
using any imagery of females. The drawing specifically spotlights the role of
women in the art world, influenced by the finding that in New York museums such as the Met, “less than 5% of the artists in the Modern Art sections are
women, but 85% of the nudes are female”. (Bradley and Esche, 2006, p.418)

The purpose of the drawing
is to encourage art collectors to include more works by women into their
collections. ‘Reclining Nude’ is more
superficial in its depiction of women. The drawing focuses on a single, nude
woman as the main subject of the image.


This essay argues that a similarity between the
drawings is that they both aim to provoke their audience. They were branded ‘cultural
terrorists’ for their many protests against sexism in the art world. (Bradley and Esche, 2006, p.418)  


Although the subject of both
drawings is of women, the way they depict femininity is very different.


“Avoiding ugly
subjects or scenes of emotional conflict, he depicts idyllic landscapes,
harmonious still lives and beautiful women” (Carrier, 2004)


argues that the foregrounding of the ornate tapestries in Matisse’s odalisque
works detracts from the sexualisation of his female subjects (Tate)


Matisse’ drawing was part of
his odalisque collection


“Pleasure in
looking, it has been said, separates the controlling male from the passive
female, whose sole role is to be on display” (Carrier, 2004)


The sexualisation of women
throughout art history, evidenced in Matisse’ drawing, is something the
Guerrilla Girls were protesting against.












Drawing 1 was created in
1986, whilst drawing 2 was created in 1924. Only 6 years after women got the
vote, women in france didn’t get the vote until 1944


There are similarities in
what was happening at both times the drawings were created. Both drawings were
created shortly after conflict.. Drawing 1 world war 1. Also during the great
depression. Drawing 2, after vietman war, cold war.


This argue also argues that
the role of women in society was different at the time both drawings were


“Refusing to paint
in a servile way that merely describes the apparent, Matisse is inspired by the
model. Because she is beautiful, he can make a beautiful painting presenting
her in this otherwise ordinary room” (Carrier, 2004)