Image Analysis (Opinion): It's A Man's World, Pauline Boty

It's A Man's World I and It's A Man's World II, Pauline Boty, 1964 - 1965

It’s A Man’s World I and II were painted by the UK Pop Artist Pauline Boty over 1964 and 1965. It’s A Man’s World I is on the left and It’s A Man’s World II is on the right. Both are painted using oils in Boty’s signature style of photorealistic collage, assembled as if cut straight from newspapers and magazines.

It’s A Man’s World I depicts prominent male figures across a wide variety of professions as well as eras, painted boldly in strong boxed areas. Many contemporary men of the time are featured, but the painting also reaches back to classical times, with the inclusion of a Roman bust and Classical architecture in the background which contrasts strongly with the aeroplane and pilot. There is only one woman included in the painting, Jackie Kennedy, cradling her husband at the moment he was shot. She stands out, in-between Lenin and Einstein, not so much because she is a figure but because above her there is a bold red rose. For all the towering grandeur and accomplishments of these men: in music, engineering and philosophical thought the rose stands out as a symbol of femininity, the fragility of love and loss.

The second painting It’s A Man’s World II is a depiction of an anonymous series of women from soft porn magazines, depicted seductively and enticingly and set on top of a naturalistic, soft landscape. The figure in the centre, depicted standing naturally and boldly is quite unlike the other images. More confrontational, less about pleasing and enticing a man, in a more naturalistic pose. 

These two paintings, when viewed together, detail the contrasts between how men and women were perceived within the media: what each sex were celebrated and held in high acclaim for. They rail against the prevailing culture of sexism which surrounded Boty and affected her being taken seriously as an artist.

** During semester one of my Second Year of Contemporary Art Practice, we were set eight images to analyse in order to practice Art Writing. I will present the series backward. This is image four. **

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