Feminist art criticism

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Feminist art criticism emerged in the 1970s from the wider feminist movement as the critical examination of both visual representations of women in art and art produced by women.[1] It continues to be a major field of art criticism.


Linda Nochlin's 1971 groundbreaking essay, "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?" analyzes the embedded privilege in the predominately white, male, Western art world and argued that women's outsider status allowed them a unique viewpoint to not only critique women's position in art, but to additionally examine the discipline's underlying assumptions about gender and ability.[2] Nochlin's essay develops the argument that both formal and social education restricted artistic development to men, preventing women (with rare exception) from honing their talents and gaining entry into the art world.[3] In the 1970s, feminist art criticism continued this critique of the institutionalized sexism of art history, art museums and galleries, as well as questioning which genres of art were deemed museum-worthy.[4] This position is articulated by artist Judy Chicago: "...it is crucial to understand that one of the ways in which the importance of male experience is conveyed is through the art objects that are exhibited and preserved in our museums. Whereas men experience presence in our art institutions, women experience primarily absence, except in images that do not necessarily reflect women's own sense of themselves."[5]

Journals and publications[edit]

The 1970s also saw the emergence of feminist art journals, including The Feminist Art Journal in 1972[6] and Heresies in 1977. The journal n.paradoxa has been dedicated to an international perspective on feminist art since 1996.[7]

Important publications on feminist art criticism include:

  • Betterton, Rosemary An Intimate Distance: Women Artists and the Body London, Routledge, 1996.
  • Deepwell, Katy ed. New Feminist Art Criticism: Critical Strategies Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995.
  • Ecker, Gisela ed. Feminist Aesthetics London: Women's Press, 1985.
  • Frueh, Joanna and C. Langer, A. Raven eds. Feminist Art Criticism: An Anthology Icon and Harper Collins, 1992, 1995.
  • Lippard, Lucy From the Center: Feminist Essays on Women's Art New York: Dutton, 1976.
  • Lippard, Lucy The Pink Glass Swan: Selected Feminist Essays on Art New York: New Press, 1996.
  • Meskimmon, Marsha Women Making Art: History, Subjectivity, Aesthetics (London: Routledge:2003).
  • Pollock, Griselda Encounters in the Virtual Feminist Museum: Time, Space and the Archive Routledge, 2007.
  • Raven, Arlene Crossing Over: Feminism and the Art of Social Concern USA: Ann Arbor,Michegan: U.M.I.:1988.
  • Robinson, Hilary (ed) Feminism - Art - Theory: An Anthology, 1968-2000 Oxford: Blackwells, 2001.

Beyond the academy[edit]

In 1989, the Guerilla Girls' poster protest[8] of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's gender imbalance brought this feminist critique out of the academy and into the public sphere.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Deepwell, Katie (Sep 2012). "12 Step Guide to Feminist Art, Art History and Criticism". n.paradoxa. online (21): 8. 
  2. ^ Nochlin, Linda. "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?". Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  3. ^ Nochlin, Linda. "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?". Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  4. ^ Atkins, Robert. "Feminist art". Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  5. ^ Chicago, Judy; Lucie-Smith, Edward (1999). Women and Art: Contested Territory. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications. p. 10. ISBN 0-8230-5852-2. 
  6. ^ "Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Timeline: United States". Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  7. ^ A List of Past and Present Feminist Art Journals on n.paradoxa's information pages
  8. ^ "HOW WOMEN GET MAXIMUM EXPOSURE IN ART MUSEUMS". Retrieved 1 February 2014.