How Male Gaze Can Influence the Perception of Art Pieces from the Psychiatric Art Collection of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences? (Case Study)
Keywords:femme-fatale; identity; being a woman outsider artist; male gaze; PsyArt Collection of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
The objective of this paper is to comprehend the environmental impact, specifically the influence of the psychiatric institution, on a work of art created within the context of psychiatric treatment. Additionally, the paper focuses on exploring the artwork’s impact on the viewer, and examining how we perceive these drawings – whether as neutral observers or through a sexualized lens. The intention is to present a collection of artworks produced by a female patient during her hospitalization in the 1950s and 1960s at the National Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology in Budapest. For the purposes of this study, the artist has been given the pseudonym “Antonia”, as her identity is only known within the institutional records through her marital status, identification by her husband’s name, and an approximate age at the time of admission. Antonia’s drawings depict women engaged in various everyday situations, such as enjoying an elegant dinner or dancing, and also include portraits of a young, attractive, and sexually appealing individual. When interpreting these drawings, it is impossible to avoid being influenced by the perspective from which the figures, seemingly vulnerable and exposed even in their elegant attire, offer their creator a glimpse into their emotions, anxieties, and fears. The aim of this study is to demonstrate that, even in contemporary times, decades after their creation, when approached from the perspectives of art history, psychology, and sociology, these drawings can only be accessed through the patriarchal lens that initially categorized them as part of the museum canon and included them in the collection during their respective era. Departing from this foundational standpoint proves to be a challenging endeavor.
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