This week we have been focussing on gender and sex in art, particularly how the female role is perceived We looked at many pieces of work but one in particular struck me – “Un Regard Oblique” (1948) by Robert Doisneau. The image is a photograph taken from the inside of a gallery looking out. Doisneau hid his Rolliflex in the display behind an antique chair in the gallery at an angle to take photos of the painting of the nude and the reactions of the public to it. The above photo is the last he took and below are a selection of the others.
The image features a couple looking into the window of the gallery; the wife is talking to the husband about a painting we can’t see, while the husband is staring at the nude blatantly not listening. It is an interesting composition because the main focus points – the nude and the man – are at the edges of the frame, yet the man’s gaze is so powerful that it cancels out the woman in the centre. You almost don’t see her the gaze is so strong.
After reading an piece about the image in “The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader” by Amelia Jones and “Film and the Masquerade: Theorizing the Female Spectator” by Mary Ann Doane, I realised that the image is poking fun at woman. The man sees the nude as a sex object and meanwhile his wife is ignorant and the only thing in the way between him and the nude. It is suggesting that woman are only there for the pleasure of men.
The image was prominent in the lecture as the woman framed by the male and the masculine idea of the nude. It is hinting at the idea that woman are the object of ‘consumption’ and the male is the ‘consumer’ as the man is thinking of ‘buying’ the woman through the medium of a painting.