Pin-Up Grrrls: Feminism, Sexuality, Popular Culture

Duke University Press
9
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Subverting stereotypical images of women, a new generation of feminist artists is remaking the pin-up, much as Annie Sprinkle, Cindy Sherman, and others did in the 1970s and 1980s. As shocking as contemporary feminist pin-ups are intended to be, perhaps more surprising is that the pin-up has been appropriated by women for their own empowerment since its inception more than a century ago. Pin-Up Grrrls tells the history of the pin-up from its birth, revealing how its development is intimately connected to the history of feminism. Maria Elena Buszek documents the genre’s 150-year history with more than 100 illustrations, many never before published.

Beginning with the pin-up’s origins in mid-nineteenth-century carte-de-visite photographs of burlesque performers, Buszek explores how female sex symbols, including Adah Isaacs Menken and Lydia Thompson, fought to exert control over their own images. Buszek analyzes the evolution of the pin-up through the advent of the New Woman, the suffrage movement, fanzine photographs of early film stars, the Varga Girl illustrations that appeared in Esquire during World War II, the early years of Playboy magazine, and the recent revival of the genre in appropriations by third-wave feminist artists. A fascinating combination of art history and cultural history, Pin-Up Grrrls is the story of how women have publicly defined and represented their sexuality since the 1860s.

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About the author

Maria Elena Buszek is Assistant Professor of Art History at the Kansas City Art Institute and a regular contributor to Bust magazine.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
May 10, 2006
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Pages
464
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ISBN
9780822387565
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Art / History / Contemporary (1945-)
Social Science / Women's Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The spellbinding story, part fairy tale, part suspense, of Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, one of the most emblematic portraits of its time; of the beautiful, seductive Viennese Jewish salon hostess who sat for it; the notorious artist who painted it; the now vanished turn-of-the-century Vienna that shaped it; and the strange twisted fate that befell it.
 
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And O’Connor writes of Klimt himself, son of a failed gold engraver, shunned by arts bureaucrats, called an artistic heretic in his time, a genius in ours.
 
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The cult of eroticism is a pervasive force in modern society, affecting almost every aspect of our daily lives. In this book, Paul Rutherford argues that this phenomenon is a product of one of the major commercial and political enterprises of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries: the creation of desire - for sex, for wealth, and for entertainment.

A World Made Sexy examines museum exhibitions, art, books, magazines, films, and television to explore the popular rise of eroticism in America and across the developed world. Starting with a brief foray into the history of pornography, Rutherford goes on to explore a sexual liberation movement shaped by the ideas of Marx and Freud, the erotic styles of Salvador Dali and pop art, the pioneering use of publicity as erotica by Playboy and other media, and the growing concerns of cultural critics over the emergence of a regime of stimulation. In one case study, Rutherford pairs James Bond and Madonna in order to examine the link between sex and aggression. He details how television advertising after 1980 constructed a theatre of the libido to entice the buying public, and concludes by situating the cultivation of eroticism in the wider context of Michel Foucault's views on social power and governmentality, and specifically how they relate to sexuality, during the modern era.

A World Made Sexy is about power and pleasure, emancipation and domination, and the relationship between the personal passions and social controls that have crafted desire.

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