Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Masculine vs. Feminine Art

Taking a break for a moment from screenings to discuss an academic (meaning, not very useful) theory I've had about art in general over the years. While it is purely an intellectual discussion, the concept has sometimes helped when I'm faced with different styles of art or settling arguments between friends over the question of whether or not the movie we just saw was good or bad.

I think that all art can be categorized as more Masculine, more Feminine, or a nice balance of both.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about male or female. Gender has nothing to do with it. I could just as easily call them Conservative and Liberal – but that opens another can of worms. In this case, I'm thinking of Masculine and Feminine as the French do in language. Some words are Masculine some are Feminine. Why? Who knows, they're French. It sounds sexy, so go with it.

To me, Masculine Art is more structured. It obeys the rules that professors like to teach. A Masculine painting will be in the realistic style with proper lighting and composition. A Masculine film, novel or play will be plot-driven with a strong hero, a good villain, and a neat and tidy ending. Masculine dance will have a plot as well. It will tell a story. Etc.

Masculine Art appeals to the brain. Its skills can be taught, learned, and repeated.

Feminine Art appeals to the heart. Often it is more personal to the artist. A Feminine painting will be of the modern style – where colors and abstract composition evoke an emotion in the viewer more than the information or painting skills of a realistic style. Feminine stories are more character driven; the psychology of the characters will influence actions more than the logic of the situations. Feminine dance will be more about the movement, color, music, etc. than the story of why the characters are dancing. At its purest, Feminine dance would be everyone dancing, with no audience at all.

All works of art (and by art I mean The Arts – without a considering the quality of the work: TV sitcoms are included in The Arts as much as classical Opera or dime store novels or Shakespeare) contain some elements of each quality. I think great art finds a balance that is specific to the work, which might or might not be equal between the two.

So much for musings. Back to the movies on Friday.

10 comments:

Matt Sinclair said...

Interesting idea. It makes sense. But why does commercial fiction, which tends to be written in a masculine manner, outsell feminine, "prosey" literary fiction?

RSMellette said...

Do you think it does? I don't know? Does Hunt for Red October outsell Traveling Pants?

Anonymous said...

Good post. But one could argue that the opposite is true: that feminine art appeals to the brain and masculine art appeals to the heart, etc...

Anonymous said...

Also, what happened to the play-by-play of submissions to give the "filmmakers an insider's look at what goes on at the danceswithfilms festival"...? I feel snubbed.

RSMellette said...

Oh, we'll get back to that, no worries. I don't know if I'll do another one where I write a comment for each movie as they happen - since it's hard to make sense out of that if you don't know the movie.

But we'll see.

Matt Sinclair said...

I'd have guessed that Red October outsold Pants, but I could easily be wrong.

Jemi Fraser said...

Interesting idea. I hadn't thought about it in those terms.

Going by these terms, I think my preference would depend on my mood at the time :)

Kenneth said...

The old masters pursued idealistic technical qualities, while the modernists pursued emotional responds. I think perhaps Hurt Locker drew a good thin line in-between.

lgonda said...

Yes, I agree that a good work of art will have its masculine and feminine aspects in balance, complementing each other.

sooz said...

This fits the Jungian structure of masculine and feminine archetypes in human psychology