PHYLLIS ODESSEY

Marketing Yourself: Victorian Women Play With Pictures

Playing with Pictures
The ART of VICTORIAN 
PHOTOCOLLAGE
Metropolitan Museum of Art
February 2 – May 9, 2010
The Howard Gilman Gallery
 
 Photoshop had nothing on these ladies.  Sure, some scholars (read the fabulous essays in the catalog, Playing with Pictures, The Art of Victorian Photocollage) argue that these photocollages were anchored in Victorian society.  Essentially, they were domestic busywork reflecting a woman’s social status; whimsy, playfulness, wit and amusement  characterized these collages, .
Others argue that these works of “art”  are full of double meanings.  The spider web is a metaphor for how this women sees herself and her connections.  In the photocollage above, Darwin had just knocked everybody’s socks off, of course, this wonder has something to do with the origin of the species.
I have to agree with Patrizia di Bello in her essay Photocollage, Fun and Flirations, that these collages were not only an advertisement for a woman’s powers, they reflected the ambitions of the women who made them.   Although these ladies never thought of the themselves as avant-garde artists or artists at all, these photocollages speak for themselves.  These were the marketing devices of the Victorian Woman.  These collages are full of double meanings.  Most women of this era did not engage in sexual misconduct, yet some of these photocollages certainly reflect the desire for it. 
Finding a way to  empower themselves, in a male-dominated society, these ladies turned to art.  The collages were an outlet for competitiveness and creativity.  They certainly took the place of sitting on a sofa in a shrink’s office.  That came later.

In 2010, we get to pour our talent and creativity into many things, including blogs.

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