Könsskillnadens estetik? Om konst och konstskapande i svensk hemslöjd på 1920- och 1990-talen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)

Abstract

The main objective of this PhD thesis, "An Aesthetics of Sexual Difference? On Art and Artistry in Swedish Handicraft of the 1920s and 1990s", is to investigate the field of handicraft in relation to a wider field of cultural production. Its aim is to contribute to a mapping of interrelated outlines of handicraft and art based on empirical studies of artistic creation in two local Swedish handicraft organizations during the modernism of the 1920s and the postmodernism of the 1990s.

Aesthetics is here seen as notions about expressions of art and limits for artistic creation, thus not as separated from ideas about gender differences but rather as dependent on them. This implies a social practice in which boundaries between institutional practices and individuals are created in relation to each other over time. A theoretical starting point is formed in gender studies, with reference to Luce Irigaray's An Ethics of Sexual Difference (1984). The critical imperative that lies in questioning what difference it makes if a work of art is made by a woman, comes from feminist art historians like Marsha Meskimmon, while Pierre Bourdieu's sociological theories about the fields of art has inspired the discussion of distinctions between handicraft and art.

Comparisons are made between Swedish handicraft and its international counterparts, where concepts like ?Folk art? and ?ornament? are investigated and the Art Déco-exhibition in Paris 1925 forms a point of departure. Methodologically the two case studies include analysis of individual artworks as well as the artist's context, based on archival research. Aesthetics of sexual difference is not evident in individual works of handicraft but rather in their being organized differently as compared to art. More importantly: difference has been maintained through the way of writing about the works ? or rather <i>not</i> writing about them ? and their creators.

From the case study of the 1920s it is concluded that textile handicraft production was part of modernist aesthetics. But rather than being seen as individual innovators, as would modernist artists, women who produced handicraft were looked upon as representatives of a tradition and therefore not always mentioned by name. This ran partly counter to contemporary laws that strengthened the right of designers. Ideologically, however, it fitted the prevailing complementary gender order to have the female-dominated handicraft organization differently structured from the male-dominated professional field of art.

In the 1990s an eclectic attitude towards tradition was a key element in postmodernist aesthetics and transgressing of genres was legion, in handicraft as well as in the arts. During the decade, handicraft was exhibited in several shows, for example at the Liljevalchs art gallery in Stockholm. Compared to the earlier period, individual artists within the handicraft organization were more visible. Parallel to an ideological and statutory work for gender equality, the number of men in the organization increased, as did the use of materials traditionally thought of as masculine, and focus was now on the making of ?sloyd? instead of earlier emphasized connections to household production and the home.

Details

Authors
  • Johanna Rosenqvist
Organisations
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Art History

Keywords

  • Handicraft, Art history, feminist art theory, Konsthistoria, Aesthetics, Art History, Konstvetenskap, fields of art, Folk art, ornament, Arts and Crafts, Modernism, Post modernism, textile art, Sloyd, The National Association of Swedish Handicraft Societies, Estetik
Original languageSwedish
QualificationDoctor
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
  • Anna Lena Lindberg, Supervisor
Award date2007 Oct 12
Publisher
  • Nordiska museets förlag
Print ISBNs978-91-7108-516-0
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2007-10-12 Time: 10:00 Place: Lund University, dept of Art History and Musicology, Biskopsgatan 5, 221 00 Lund. Josephson buildning, room 314 External reviewer(s) Name: Veiteberg, Jorunn Title: Professor Affiliation: Kunsthøgskolen i Bergen ---