Turkish Bath

Unfortunately it’s been a while since I (Katherine) have posted. To make up for that I’m going to try and make this post a bit different from the others. I’m currently enrolled in a course this quarter called “Feminism in Contemporary Art” here at Stanford and I want to share some of the cool things I’m learning with all of you. Hopefully you find this material as interesting as I do!

Lets start off by taking a look at the following images:


Sylvia Sleigh The Turkish Bath, 1973        Ingres The Turkish Bath, 1862

They look similar, right? Well that’s because they’re supposed to. The work on the left is a direct criticism of what is presented in the work on the right.

The painting on the right is considered a classic. This depiction of nude females in such sensual poses would have been an enormous source of controversy in the art world at the time it was produced had the setting and title of the painting been different. Because the artist set the scene in a foreign place the erotic imagery was deemed acceptable. Here the exotic and over-sexualized female form is glorified.

The painting on the left is artist Sylvia Sleigh’s response to the work on the right. She comments on the objectifying poses seen in Ingres’ painting by depicting men in the same sorts of positions. The result is comical, but carries with it a very serious message. The over-sexualization of female bodies is not something to be taken lightly. It contributes to a number of social problems like rape culture for example. The traditionally powerless or sexualized depictions of women are portrayed as ridiculous and impractical because they are!

Sleigh’s work produced nearly 100 years after the original Turkish Bath painting points out the age old problem of female representation in art. The artistic representation of the female body is traditionally acceptable, however historically women have not been granted access to the art world or welcomed into the ranks of the “great.”

When I find ideas or artworks from class especially interesting I’ll try to share it with all of you on the blog!

Have an amazing weekend everybody 😀



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