Beneath the mask: an investigation into the self-­portraits of Cindy Sherman and Frida Kahlo

Jefferson-Grant, Amber (2013) Beneath the mask: an investigation into the self-­portraits of Cindy Sherman and Frida Kahlo. BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Abstract

    The primary aim of this dissertation is to explore and understand how Frida Kahlo and Cindy Sherman use self-portraiture as a method for re-directing the masculine gaze, by turning the gaze on themselves, and consequently bringing the female identity into the forefront of the art world.

    The first chapter investigates how self-portraiture has evolved through the history of art, looking profoundly at the way the male artist created a stereotype of woman, by projecting the male gaze upon her and omitting any humanistic elements of her identity that would cause for her to be seen as anything but an object. This chapter also looks at the way female portrait artists began to take the gaze into their own hands and subvert it, thus becoming the subject rather than the object of the image. Beginning with an overview of the portrait as a way of portraying ones self, this chapter establishes the meaning of the self-portrait for women and what it enables them to achieve.

    The second chapter moves on to look closely at the work of photographer Cindy Sherman, focusing on her Untitled Film Stills. This chapter examines how Sherman parodies and subverts the female archetype through her use of guises and portrayal of uncanny female ‘characters’, thus allowing people to take a step back and understand the ‘creation’ of the female characters within the photographs.

    The third chapter will investigate the work of Frida Kahlo, concentrating on her original portrayal of the ‘taboo’ reality of being a female, through the inclusion of subjects such as birth, miscarriage and illness. This chapter will also look at the key theme of conflict that runs through her portraits, and investigates what this theme allows the viewer to understand about Kahlo and women in general.

    The conclusion that can be created from these three chapters shapes a general understanding of how Kahlo and Sherman utilized the self-portrait as a way to represent themselves, whilst subverting and parodying the traditional male gaze, thus causing the viewer to develop a deeper understanding of the female identity. Through their images they endeavour to question women being viewed as an object.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries > School of Art and Design
    Depositing User: Alice Bentley
    Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2013 11:31
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 12:31
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/13872

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