art vs. art | kelly reemsten vs. keith p. rein

i am so pumped for today's art vs. art post. i'm really drawn to works by both kelly reemstem and keith p. rein. at first glance, these two artist have entirely different styles and aesthetics. but both present women holding dangerous tools or weapons.

kelly reemstem* is a little more subtle in the way she presents her subject matter. women in frothy mid century tea dresses hold everyday tools and household items but there is a distinctly ominous atmosphere. what do they plan to do with their chosen item?

keith p. rein's** figures range from stoic to sexy. i like to think he is empowering them sexually by giving them weapons. women are not as traditionally associated with dangerous guns as men are but here they appear in confident and in charge.

similar subject matter and themes - but which do you prefer and why??

kelly reemsten

keith p. rein

* here is a wonderful essay about reemsten's work. truly beautiful descriptions!
** warning: clicking through on this link means you will encounter graphic content.


  1. i think both artists are interesting...

    A. kelly reemsten: the women seem to be dressed as to portray social norms yet somehow are resisting it through the weapons, etc... yet for some reason, their faces (aka their subjectivity) is absent... maybe they can't be real/actual subject/resist whilst still living up to social norms?

    B. keith p. reins: i like the first photo you've got here - it seems to argue that women aligned together (either friendship or romantically) may be a threat. Guns = militarism = nationality = national security. So maybe a threat to the nation? powerful?

    ...that being said, when i clicked to look at his other stuff, i find most of the women are constructed through a very hetero-masculine gaze. which kind of obliterates the above mentioned piece. Big boobs, tiny waists, long hair, hetero sex.. and the violence inflicted upon some of the women makes me question his feelings toward women. I suppose it could signal death to traditional femininity but the rest of his work doesn't say anything near that. his work is powerful but it leaves something to be desired.

    Of course, i'm not art knower person ;) that's just my interpretation through a critical feminist lens :)

  2. I am definitely on team Reemtsen-- I've loved her work for so long! I was drawn to her work initially for the palette and imagery, but the more I continue to study her work, the more powerful it becomes for me. Her throwback, ultra-feminine silhouettes juxtaposed with the somewhat menacing quality of the household tools make a subtle commentary on women's social roles. I think they leave us questioning, open to dialogue which is what the best art does. I shared my thoughts on Kelly's work here: http://artsyforager.wordpress.com/2011/11/14/youve-come-a-long-way-to-bring-home-the-bacon-baby/

    I'm in agreement with Kristy Lynn re: Reins work. ;-)


thanks for your comment, i love hearing your thoughts!