Art and Gender

Gender plays a crucial role in the creation and development of artwork throughout the various parts of the world. The differences in these two sexes provide a variation in their perception also analyzing art in society. Themes of genders in art revolve around sexism, objectification, inequality, leadership and male dominance in the society. Art as a mirror of society has been used over the eyes to depict these forms of social issues.

The gender issues are greatly ascribed to male chauvinism and the relative perspectives that exist in society. As a result, the art industry has been mainly dominated by men who influence the nature of created artwork. Misogyny in highly celebrated art work has been a common illustration in many exhibition rooms and galleries.  Women are largely portrayed has passive and submissive to other genders due to their biological and social roles. However, much emphasis was placed on appreciating the abstract aspects of women, like beauty and aesthetics.


Throughout, the medieval ages, renaissance and the contemporary times, the works of many artists have been influenced by themes of gendered art. Emergences of feminist movements have further augmented the debate on how art should be interpreted. The paper presents an evaluation of a piece of art “Origin of the universe 1” by a Brooklyn based painterThomas Mickalene. In addition, it presents the gendered art themes like, sexism, objectification, and gender roles exhibited in the master piece. The paper analyses the fact that art is used to depict the differences in gender by virtue of their roles and how these roles define their social status and stereotyping in society.

The painting “Origin of the universe 1” was done by Mickalene Thomas who hails from New Jersey but resides in Brooklyn where theart masterpiece is exhibited at the Brooklyn museum, New York. The painter wasinspired  by the works of French painter Gustave Courbet and integrated their ideas in creating painting of African American women. Mickalene is famously known for his mastery in the use of rhinestones, acrylics with various colors and enamel. The paintings are inspired by his love for black women and the disco era of the 1970’s. 

Glaring at the painting in the Brooklyn museum, the art work reveals a representation of black woman wood. The colorful use of enamel andacrylicsportrays a deluxe fusion of colour in representing the African American woman. The center of focus is a woman lying naked revealing herfront parts and exposing her genitalia. Thomas uses rhinestones to artistically illustrate the bejeweled public hair. Thepainting has however received criticism for being vulgar and using sexual objectification in the display of beauty. 

The author’s works which are focused on black female beauty and sexual identity elicits gender issuesof femininity and power. The painting exhibits the genitals of a female figure and represents a form of exhibitionism self-evident in the construction of women art.  Thomas uses this form of illustration to represent women beauty. This can be juxtaposed with the logic that women beauty can only be described through nudity. In addition, the painter postulates African American women as readily accessible through the explosive display of nudity. The explicit nature of the artwork reveals the painter’s own perspective of women sexuality.

Objectification of women is another gender issue emanating from theThomas' masterpiece. The banal display of women genitalia paints the stereotypes of women as sexual objects. Origin of the universe 1 depicts women as the “origin” of society.  As a result, this implies that they are sexual symbols that represent reproduction and procreation. Thisform of objectification portraysthe perspectives held by men towards women. Therefore, the conceived social constructs define their behavior. An evaluation of the painting further reveals the use of women’s sexuality as objects in representing symbolic events. The painting by Thomas provides insights into the refocusing of African American women the making of the universe. This isperceivedto be a contrast to the painting of white women of the same nature by French painters.

Sexism is another gender issue postulated by the painting. Artwork is predominantly a male dominated field which has mostly led to the biased portrayal of women sexuality in art. The blatantdisplay of sexuality which is perceived as sacred to women exhibits a form of bias by male artist. Use of sexuality as the dominant theme in most painting illustrates how sexism has shaped artwork in recent years. In addition, the gender roles of women are presented in the art with display of genitalia has a symbol of reproduction. Theexplicit display of these aspects of women biologically defined roles presents a theme of sexism in the stereotyping of women as reproductive agents in the universe.

In conclusion, Mickalene Thomas painting provides insights in evaluating gender issues in artwork development. Male dominance in artwork is a major gender issue that shapes gender relations among men and women in society. Sexuality is used to create perspectives and communicate ideas despite the self evident bias in gender representations and stereotypes. As a result, women objectification is a major issue in the development of artwork which is a major conflict aspect in gender relations. Therefore, gender in artwork is vital in communicating the blatant gender inequalities self-evident in society as embodied in Thomas Mickalene “Origin of the universe 1.

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