R&A Abstract Expressionism Exhibition

Willem de Kooning – Woman in landscape, 1968 and  Woman in a landscape, 1965

Both of the paintings by Kooning use the landscape as a way of expressing the female form. He also uses grotesque colours and shapes to abstract the form in a way which makes it no longer obviously human. Both also have animal like qualities which also makes yo question the subject of the piece.


Natural or human forms?

Creating forms out of clay which look like natural things you would find outside, but representing the female sex organ.

How something beautiful (flowers) can represent something quite grotesque. Showing that though they are not identical they are something every woman has in common – showing the imperfections of every woman.

Body standards? How every part of your body is expected to be perfect and set from the stereotypes.

Hannah Wilke – American Feminist Artist

“My folded clay pieces are like little pieces of nature, a new species. They exist the way sea shells exist….” Hannah Wilke


‘Sweet Sixteen’ 1978, ‘Yellow Rose of Texas’ 1960’s, ‘San Antonio Rose’ 1966

  • Yellow Rose of Texas in my opinion doesn’t look like a vagina, but looks more to be a box with an opening. In this one specifically I see the ‘vaginal form’ being seen as an object, you want to look inside, you are less interested in the outside of the piece, but you want to know more about what it encloses.
  • San Antonio Rose is more interesting to look at up close do to being able to see the structure of the fabric used to create the piece, this use of fabric links the piece to our traditional domestic heritage and what we were expected to do, but using them in a way that speaks volumes for women’s rights.


Georgia O’Keefe



‘Grey Lines with Black, Blue and Yellow’ c.1923, ‘Red Canna’ 1924, ‘Autumn Trees – The Maple’ 1924.

  • Flowers are also a symbol of a vagina and the vagina can also be called the flower.
  • Her forms are very vulva in shape and with some being blood red in colour, they show a blossoming flower which I think also represents a strong woman.
  • Subtle use of shape and colour to create a vulva form from flowers.
  • Some being less about the female form, but the use of blood red could be seen to represent menstruation and the issues women had about talking openly on the topic.
  • I like her subtle/unknowing approach, you can recognise the paintings as being informative without forcing too much of a strong opinion on the viewer.


Jenny Saville


‘Ebb and Flow’ 2015, ‘One Out of Two (Symposium)’ 2016

The overlap in the drawings confuses the figures together making them not have a gender.

The sketchy feel to the drawings and the overlapping body shapes shown creates the reality of imperfection rather than idealising the female form.