In 2023, we can continue to make progress with body positivity and understanding the value of the female body! Contemporary artists have worked hard to reclaim the female nude from the grasps of the male gaze. We can find beauty in imperfection, self-acceptance, power in our female sensuality and sexuality!
All of which comes from understanding that the female experience is extremely diverse. We recognize that the ideal of the female body is clouded by societal norms. One step towards correcting this, is viewing and celebrating art produced by female artists working to understand their unique experiences with body and self.
As we enter 2023, here are 5 works of art that highlight the female body in all its imperfect beauty!
1. The Birds Nest by Carol Scavotto
Rhode-Island native Carol Scavotto’s diverse artistic career has spanned decades. In recent years, she has chosen playful doll-like figures which allow her to tackle difficult socio-cultural issues in a playful way. A rediscovered interest in Japanese prints has enabled Scovatta’s erotic themed sensual images. Her works highlight the often-overlooked notion of female pleasure. In The Birds Nest, Scavotto questions self-worth, and challenges the patriarchal hierarchy, placing the male figure in the image only to serve the female’s sexuality. With this East Asian ink and wash on fabric artwork, Scovatta hopes her works will inspire viewers to harness the power associated with their own sensuality.
2. X.Z. by Hildos
Hildos is a Lebanese-Armenian artist whose artistic career led her from her birthplace of Beirut to New York City. In 2012, she completed a summer residency at the School of Visual Arts, New York. During the residency, she began working on a series called Emancipation. One work in the series, Mrs. X.Z. is a self-portrait that features the following themes: emancipation, body image, and “seeing the beauty in imperfection.” Through her images of the female body, Hildos fights with her own demons and attempts to realize the beauty, instead of the ugliness, in the most hated parts of herself. Thus, in Mrs. X.Z. we join her on her journey of self-acceptance!
3. Viva La Vulva by Lena Romanovskaya
Artist Lena Romanovskaya’s colorful paintings evoke the old-school expressionist painters, while referencing contemporary themes. Viva La Vulva is a contemporary version of a Georgia O’Keefe painting in that it displays an abstracted flower that we can view as a vulva. Romanovskaya’s painting goes one step further, adding hands on either side, which serve to suggest the vulva is a venerated or celebrated object. Romanovskaya’s painting reveals the overlooked beauty of the female body, suggesting that every woman is beautiful. Romanovskaya wants to convey the importance of self-acceptance through her “restless eclecticism.”
4. Woman by Larisa Siverina
Contemporary artist Larisa Siverina creates abstracted images on brightly colored canvases. Siverina puts an emphasis on the female body and the parts that speak to the birth of the world. Siverina is inspired by the vitality of her bold colors, which show how she perceives the world. By highlighting the female body in Woman, Siverina comments on the importance of the life-giving force! Thus, she highlights the importance of the female body outside of the male gaze.
5. Surdelle by Hildegarde Handsaeme
Belgian artist Hildegarde Handsaeme’s female figures powerfully acknowledge their importance in the cosmic sphere. Taking stylistic inspiration from Picasso, Leger, Miro and others, Handsaeme reclaims the female nude. Her carefully constructed and harmonic works carry deeper meanings with an aim to show love and tenderness to everyone. In Handsaeme’s works, the female body no longer serves the male gaze, but instead serves only herself. Handsaeme wants to “remind us of the glamorous institution of woman.” Women’s bodies are so much more than beautiful objects.