Un Regard oblique  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Un Regard oblique is a 1948 photograph by French photographer Robert Doisneau ([1]). The photograph depicts a woman and a man standing in front of an art gallery, seen from the inside of the gallery through the gallery window. The woman is discussing a painting with what we presume is her husband. The painting discussed is seen from the back, so we are unaware of the contents of the painting. The man is not listening to the woman, instead his eye wanders to a picture we do see, the painting of a nude woman displayed on one of the sidewalls of the window display. The photograph typifies two stereotypical images of the male human: the man who does not listen to the woman, and the man who is obsessed with all things sexual.

In a notable example of feminist theory excess, Mary Ann Doane remarks on the photograph:

"... the photograph appears to give a certain prominence to a woman's look. Yet, both the title of the photograph and its organization of space indicate that the real site of scopophilic power is on the margins of the frame. The man is not centered ... Nevertheless, it is his gaze which defines the problematic of the photograph ... Indeed, as subject of the gaze, the woman looks intently. But not only is the object of her look concealed from the spectator, her gaze is encased by the two poles defining masculine axis of vision. Fascinated by nothing visible ... the female gaze is left free-floating, vulnerable to subjection. ... On the other hand, the object of the male gaze is fully present, there for the spectator. The fetishistic representation of the nude female body ... insures a masculinization of the spectorial position." (Doane 68)

See also

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