More notes at http://tanguay.info/learntracker
C O U R S E 
Sexing the Canvas: Art and Gender
Jeanette Hoorn, The University of Melbourne
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Frida Kahlo: Self Portrait with Cropped Hair
Notes taken on June 16, 2019 by Edward Tanguay
retablo is a form of popular folk art in Mexico
painted in a small format on tin
highly decorative but also strangely unsettling to the viewer
they present ironic commentary on life's contradictions
PAINTING: Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair 1940
we see Kahlo dressed in one of Diego's suits
she has herself represented in the process of cutting off her hair
she is paused in the act of hacking off her crowning glory
admiring herself as if in a mirror, scissors still in her hand
framing the portrait are the words at the top
"Mira que si te quise, fué por el pelo, ahora que estás pelona, ya no te quiero."
she has transformed her gendered identity from that of a feminized subject, to a more masculine self
she has taken away the Frida that Diego loved, and made herself over into a different and almost unrecognizable Frida
who now withdraws her charms from her unfaithful husband
what do pictures want
art historian WJT Mitchell asks this
we talk about the power of pictures over us and how they make us feel
shift the debate from power to desire
along the lines of Freud: What do women want?
along the lines of Frantz Fanon: What does the black person want?
Michell wants in a similar way to give agency to the picture
don't confuse the desire of the picture with the desire of the artist
what pictures want is not the same as the message they communicate
what pictures want is to be asked what they want
you no longer impose on the pictures what you know about the artist's intentions
what do these paintings want
want to challenge contemporary ideas of femininity
PAINTING: Fulang Chang and I
painted along the style of the Renaissance Madonna and Child and so wanted to be quite confrontational
the picture
wants to show how Kahlo herself is bound to the monkey
the monkey is an intimate companion
the connecting ribbon
communicate calm
is almost uncanny
the forest of cacti in the background
as if woman, animal and nature are all unified together
PAINTING: Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair 1940
what the picture wants
difficult to interpret the painting without the inscription
quote from a folk song
often produced on tin
stories of saints
located behind small altars in small churches
about dramas relating to the lives of the saints
here this is about the trials Kahlo has been undergoing in the divorce from her husband Diego Rivera
the picture doesn't want the viewer to enter into relationship between Frida and her husband
her stance is defiant
she has almost disfigured herself
now the picture seems to want to encourage us to see it in terms of the gay
wants to communicate Kahlo as someone who's sexuality is fluid
it's making a statement about the fluidity of gender boundaries
it shows an appeal of an androgynous looking figure
we can always return to a picture and ask again, what does the picture want
it may have different desires in different times and circumstances
the picture may want many things