The tendency of postmodernism to redefine art historical works is evident through the work of contemporary artist Dotty Attie. Her particular style provokes a response that looks at the work of past influential painters and their impact upon art history. Attie’ s appropriation of details from the original works of each artist suggests a visual discourse that questions the formation of gender politics and representation, where the works act as specific cultural examples addressing modes of representation. Her attraction to specific artists becomes a cultural commentary on a history that celebrates the mythic role and position of the artist. Linda Nochlin in her 1971 article Why Are There No Great Women Artists? quotes “History is determined by those who construct it,” whereas Attie’ s work reconstructs a history in a narrative that focuses on the “ act of looking” as a historically male prerogative. This is evident in Attie’ s Mixed Metaphors, from her After Courbet series. The composition stands out amongst her early work as a violent and intriguing arrangement of images that addresses issues of the lack of female agency in art. Attie’ s Mixed Metaphors is a presentation of a feminist rehistory that re-interprets the works of the masters and exposes the historical tradition behind the role of the feminine in art. Her visual discussion, together with the criticism of the art historians Linda Nochlin and Michael Fried, structures a view of history that re-envisions the traditional myth of the artist and his paintbrush.
Lillian Pope, ’07 Cedar Rapids, IA
Sponsor: Christina McOmber