new-york

“The Female Gaze”

Cheim & Read

The republication this year of Laura Mulvey’s 1975 essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” (in a second edition of Visual and Other Pleasures) is long overdue: In spite of the article’s canonical status, Mulvey’s fine-tuned concepts have too often been rendered vague, gestured to merely as a way of getting at blurry notions of “pleasure” and “the gaze.” Cheim & Read’s summer show, “The Female Gaze: Women Look at Women,” was a case in point. Assembled here was an extensive array of artworks, all of them executed by women, all of them taking the female form as subject. The show’s purview spanned nearly a century and a half, bookended by May Prinsep (Head of St. John), an albumen print from 1866 by Julia Margaret Cameron, and Mickalene Thomas’s A-E-I-O-U and Sometimes Y, 2009, four panels excerpted from a larger, multipanel rhinestone-encrusted painting made this year. That the two have

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