Femininity

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As one of many aspects of gender, femininity has had a long and complex history in art. Dependent on its context in culture, time, and place, femininity is a social construct, enmeshed in a system of gender and power hierarchies. Artists’ depictions of the feminine reflect women’s roles in society: in ancient art, femininity was often expressed symbolically in terms of fertility and motherhood, such as in the Venus of Willendorf. Through the nineteenth century, women were depicted in binary roles as chaste or domestic, or a threatening femme fatale. Since the feminist movement in the sixties, many female artists, including Frida Kahlo, Nan Goldin, and Barbara Kruger have critiqued, reclaimed, and redefined the stereotypical roles of the feminine.

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