Lena Cronqvist: Reflections of Girls
Abstract: The starting point for this PhD, is the large number of girls that opposed the common trend in which girls are represented as innocent, romantic and sexual. The aim of this study has been to provide the first piece of research ever on this body of work by the Swedish artist Lena Cronqvist (b. 1938) and to cast new light on representations of girls in art in general. Cronqvist is one of Sweden's major living artists and between 1990 and 2006 images of girls have been her main theme. In both paintings and sculptures she has explored the theme of girls, offering a challenging viewing experience. The method employed in the thesis can best be described as a visual analysis, in which images are closely studied. Throughout the thesis references are made to literature, photography and film, placing Cronqvist's girl figures in a cultural context stretching beyond visual art. This approach allows for making comparisons with art from the present as well as from the past. The thesis is divided into five different thematic aspects of Lena Cronqvist's work: bathing girls and women, sexually ambiguous bodies, narrative structures, visualisation of memories and aggression. This eclectic reading has led the research in various theoretical directions. However, the theoretical starting point has been gender studies, in which the feminine subject is renegotiated. In art this involves an understanding of the complexities for the woman artist as both the maker of the image and as a subject for the image. This analytical approach casts light on representations of girls in art in general but also highlights how Cronqvist's art stands out by communicating in a language of its own.
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