Feminist art movement in the United States

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Guerilla girls exhibit, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

The feminist art movement in the United States began in the early 1970s and sought to promote the study, creation, understanding and promotion of women's art.

First-generation feminist artists include Judy Chicago, Mary Beth Edelson, Carolee Schneeman, and Rachel Rosenthal. They were part of the Feminist art movement in the United States in the early 1970s to develop feminist writing and art.[1] The movement spread quickly through museum protests in both New York (May 1970) and Los Angeles (June 1971), via an early network called W.E.B. (West East Bag) that disseminated news of feminist art activities from 1971 to 1973 in a nationally circulated newsletter, and at conferences such as the The West Coast Women’s Artists Conference held at California Institute of the Arts (January 21–23, 1972) and the Conference on Women in the Visual Arts, at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. (April 20–22, 1972).[2]

1970s[edit]

For us, there weren’t women in the galleries and museums, so we formed our own galleries, we curated our own exhibitions, we formed our own publications, we mentored one another, we even formed schools for feminist art. We examined the content of the history of art, and we began to make different kinds of art forms based on our experiences as women. So it was both social and something even beyond; in our case, it came back into our own studios.[3]

Joyce Kozloff

The Feminist Art Movement of the 1970s, within the second wave of feminism, "was a major watershed in women's history and the history of art" and "the personal is political" was its slogan.[4]

Key activities[edit]

Maintenance Art—Proposal for an Exhibition[edit]

In 1969 Mierle Laderman Ukeles wrote a manifesto entitled Maintenance Art—Proposal for an Exhibition, challenging the domestic role of women and proclaiming herself a "maintenance artist". Maintenance, for Ukeles, is the realm of human activities that keep things going, such as cooking, cleaning and child-rearing and her performances in the 1970s included the cleaning of art galleries.[5]

Initial feminist art classes[edit]

The first women's art class was taught in the fall of 1970 at the Fresno State College, now the California State University, Fresno, by artist Judy Chicago. With Miriam Schapiro, Chicago created California Institute of the Arts's Feminist Art Program (FAP). Art historian Lowery Sims established the Feminist Art Program in Los Angeles.[6][nb 1]

The Fresno Feminist Art Program served as a model for other feminist art efforts, such as Womanhouse, a collaborative feminist art exhibition and the first project produced after the Feminist Art Program moved to the California Institute of the Arts in the fall of 1971. Womanhouse, like the Fresno project, also developed into a feminist studio space and promoted the concept of collaborative women's art.[7]

The Feminist Studio Workshop was founded in in Los Angeles in 1973 by Judy Chicago, Arlene Raven, and Sheila Levrant de Bretteville as a two-year feminist art program. Women from the program were instrumental in finding and creating the Woman's Building, the first independent center to showcase women's art and culture.

Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?[edit]

In 1971, the art historian Linda Nochlin published a the article "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?" in Woman in Sexist Society, which was later reprinted in ArtNews, where she claimed that there were no "great" women artists at that time, nor in history. By omission, this inferred that artists like Georgia O'Keeffe and Mary Cassatt were not considered great. She stated why she felt that there were no great women artists and what organizational and institutional changes needed to take place to create better opportunities for women.[8]

The author Lucy Lippard and others identified three tasks to further the understanding and promotion of works by women:[9]

  • Find and present current and historic art works by women
  • Develop an more informal language for writing about art by women
  • Create theories about the meanings behind women's art and create a history of their works.

Approaches[edit]

In California, the approach to improve the opportunities for women artists focused on creating venues, such as the Woman's Building and the Feminist Studio Workshop (FSW), located with the Woman's Building. Gallery spaces, feminist magazine offices, a bookstore, and a cafe were some of the key uses of the Feminist Studio Workshop.[10]

Organizations like A.I.R. Gallery and Women Artists in Revolution (WAR) were formed in New York to provide greater opportunity for female artists and protest for to include works of women artist in art venues that had very few women represented, like Whitney Museum and the Museum of Modern Art. In 1970 there was a 23% increase in the number of women artists, and the previous year there was a 10% increase, due to Whitney Annual (later Whitney Biennial) protests.[10]

Three Weeks in May[edit]

In 1977, Suzanne Lacy and collaborator Leslie Labowitz, combined performance art with activism in "Three Weeks in May" on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall. The performance, which included a map of rapes in the city, and self-defense classes highlighted sexual violence against women.[11]

Organizations and efforts[edit]

Year Title Event Comments
1969 Women Artists in Revolution (WAR) Protest Women Artists in Revolution, initially a group within the Art Workers' Coalition, protested the lack of representation of women artists' works in museums in 1969,[12] and operated only for a few years. Its members formed the Women's Interart Center.[13][nb 2]
1970 Women's Interart Center Founded The Women's Interart Center in New York, founded by 1970 in New York City, is still in operation. The Women Artists in Revolution group evolved into the Women's Interart Center, which was a workshop that fostered multidisciplinary approaches, an alternative space and community center - the first of its kind in New York.[14]
1970 Ad Hoc Women Artists' Committee Founded The Ad Hoc Women Artists' Committee (AWC) formed[nb 3] to address the Whitney Museum's exclusion of women artists but expanded its focus over time. Committee members included Lucy Lippard, Faith Ringgold and others.[14] The Women's Art Registry was created in 1970 to provide information about artists and their works and "counter curatorial bias and ignorance." It was maintained in several locations afer the group disbanded in 1971. The registry, a model for other resource initiatives, is now maintained at Rutgers University's Mabel Smith Douglass Library.[15]
1971 Los Angeles Council of Women Artists Protest In response to the 1971 Art and Technology exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), an ad hoc group of women organized, calling themselves the Los Angeles Council of Women Artists. They researched the number of women included in exhibitions at LACMA and issued a June 15, 1971 report, in which they protested sexual inequality in the artworld and that lack of art works from women at the museum's "Art and Technology" exhibition.[16][17] They set a precedent for the Guerrilla Girls and other feminist groups.[17]
1971[18] Where We At (WWA)[19] Founded Women artists of color also began organizing, founding groups such as the African American group Where We At (WWA) and the Chicana group Las Mujeres Muralistas in order to gain visibility for artists who had been excluded or marginalized on the basis of both their sex and racial or ethnic identity.[19][20]
1972 A.I.R. Gallery Founded A collective gallery formed in New York and remains in operation.[12][nb 4][21]
1972 Women's Caucus for Art Founded Women's Caucus for Art, an offshoot of the College Art Association was founded in 1972 at the San Francisco Conference. A WCA conference is held annually and there are chapters in most areas of the U.S.[22] The Woman's Building which included the Feminist Studio Workshop was founded by Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, art historian Arlene Raven, and Judy Chicago in 1973.[7][23] [nb 5]
1972[24] Women's Video Festival Held festivals The Women's Video Festival was held yearly for a number of years in New York City.[25] Many women artists continue to organize working groups, collectives, and nonprofit galleries in various locales around the world.[citation needed]
1973 Artemesia Founded A collective gallery formed in Chicago.[12][26][nb 4]
1973[27] Las Mujeres Muralistas[19] Founded Women artists of color also began organizing, founding groups such as the African American group Where We At (WWA) and the Chicana group Las Mujeres Muralistas in order to gain visibility for artists who had been excluded or marginalized on the basis of both their sex and racial or ethnic identity.[19][20]
1975 Spiderwoman's Theater Founded The theater was created to tell stories from an urban perspective. It is named after the Hopi goddess of creation whose objective is to "assist humans in maintaining balance in all things."[28]
1979 New York Feminist Art Institute Founded Founding members: Nancy Azara, Lucille Lessane, Miriam Schapiro, Irene Peslikis [29]

Publications[edit]

Beginning in 1975 there were scholarly publications about feminism, feminist art and historic women's art, most notably Through the Flower: My Struggle as a Woman Artist by Judith Chicago; and Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape (1975) by Susan Brownmiller; Woman Artists: 1550-1950 (1976) about Linda Nochlin and Ann Sutherland Harris's exhibition; From the Center: Feminist Essays in Women's Art (1976) by Lucy Lippard; Of Woman Born, by Adrienne Rich, When God Was a Woman (1976) by Merlin Stone; By Our Own Hands (1978) by Faith Wilding; Gyn/Ecology (1978) by Mary Daly; and Woman and Nature by Susan Griffin.[30]

In 1977, both Chrysalis and Heresies: A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics began publication.[30][31][nb 6]

1980s[edit]

Feminist art evolved during the 1980s, with a trend away from experiential works and social causes. Instead, there was a trend toward works based upon Postmodern theory and influenced by psychoanalysis. Inequal representation in the artworld was a continuing issue.[10]

Key activities[edit]

Guerrilla Girls[edit]

Guerrilla Girls was formed by 7 women artists in the spring of 1985 in response to the Museum of Modern Art's exhibition "An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture", which opened in 1984. The exhibition was the inaugural show in the MoMA's newly renovated and expanded building, and was planned to be a survey of the most important contemporary artists.[32]

The Guerrilla Girls have researched sexism and created artworks at the request of various people and institutions, among others, the Istanbul Modern, Istanbul, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Arts, Rotterdam and Fundación Bilbao Arte Fundazioa, Bilbao. They have also partnered with Amnesty International, contributing pieces to a show under the organization's "Protect the Human" initiative.[33]

Mass communication[edit]

To address the inequity faced by women artists, graphic mass communication, using refined slogans and graphics was a vehicle by which Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer sought to increase awareness.[10]

Publications[edit]

1990s[edit]

  • Marcia Tucker Bad Girls an exhibition at New Museum in New York, and Bad Girls West at SFMOMA, also a publication Boston,Mass: MIT: 1995
  • Amelia Jones (ed and curator) Sexual Politics: Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party in Feminist Art History Major exhibition of contemporary feminist art related to Chicago's The Dinner Party, which at that time did not have a home in a public museum (University of California Press:1996)

2000s[edit]

Key activities[edit]

"WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution"[edit]

The exhibition, "WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution," focused on the feminist art movement. It featured work from many countries, including the United States, starting in 1965. There were 120 artists who participated in the event.[42]

A Studio of Their Own[edit]

A Studio of Their Own: The Legacy of the Fresno Feminist Experiment was performed on the California State University, Fresno campus at the Phebe Conley Art Gallery in 2009. It was a retrospective that paid homage to the women from the 1970s who were part of the first women's art program.[43]

The Feminist Art Project[edit]

The Feminist Art Project website and information portal was founded at Rutgers University in 2006. A resource for artists in the United States, it publishes a calendar of events and runs conferences, discussions and education projects. It describes itself as "a strategic intervention against the ongoing erasure of women from the cultural record".[44] The project was co-founded by the Women's Caucus for Art and is an affiliated society of the College Art Association and presents programming in parallel with that organization's annual conference.

2010s[edit]

Key activities[edit]

The documentary file !Women Art Revolution was played at New York's IFC Center beginning June 1, 2011, before opening around the country.[45][46]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The 15 students, which formed the Feminist Art Program, included Susan Boud, Dori Atlantis, Gail Escola, Vanalyne Green, Suzanne Lacy, Cay Lang, Karen LeCocq, Jan Lester, Chris Rush, Judy Schaefer, Henrietta Sparkman, Faith Wilding, Shawnee Wollenman, Nancy Youdelman, and Cheryl Zurilgen. which became a full 15-unit program in the Spring of 1971. She taught 15 students who formed the Feminist Art Program, which rented and refurbished an off-campus studio at 1275 Maple Avenue in downtown Fresno where they had reading groups, collaborated on art and held discussion groups about their life experiences which then influenced their art. After Judy Chicago left to develop the program at the California Institute of the Arts, the class was taught by Rita Yokoi from 1971 to 1973, and then Joyce Aiken in 1973, until her retirement in 1992. Aiken opened the all-women's co-op Gallery 25 with her students, developed the Fresno Art Museum's Distinguished Women Artist Series and the Council of 100, which helped develop programming and exhibitions about women at the museum.[7]
  2. ^ Women Artists in Revolution (WAR) formed to address the under representation of women artist's work in museums. In 1969 the published a list of demands, including "Museums should encourage female artists to overcome the centuries of damage done to the image of the female as an artist by establishing equal representation of the sexes in shows, museum purchases, and on selection committees."[13]
  3. ^ Lippard said that the group was founded in 1971.[12]
  4. ^ a b Collective galleries such as A.I.R. Gallery in New York (1972–present) and Artemesia in Chicago were formed to provide visibility for art by feminist artists. The strength of the feminist movement allowed for the emergence and visibility of many new types of work by women but also helped facilitate a range of new practices by men.[12]
  5. ^ Many of the feminist artists and designers from CalArts joined other feminist artists at the Woman's Building, an important center of the west coast feminist artist movement in the 1970s and 1980s in which meetings, workshops, performances, and exhibitions regularly took place. Womanspace Gallery relocated there. During the first year, there were national conferences on feminist film, writing, ceramics, among others.[citation needed]
  6. ^ Chrysalis Magazine (1977–80), was organized out of the Los Angeles Woman's Building.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Thomas Patin and Jennifer McLerran (1997). Artwords: A Glossary of Contemporary Art Theory. Westport, CT: Greenwood. p. 55. Retrieved 8 January 2014.  via Questia (subscription required)
  2. ^ Moravec, Michelle (2012). "Toward a History of Feminism, Art, and Social Movements in the United States". Frontiers: A Journal of Women's Studies 33 (2): 22–54. 
  3. ^ "Where Fine Art Meets Craft: The Accessible Works of Joyce Kozloff". American Association of University Women. August 28, 2013. 
  4. ^ Norma Broude; Mary D. Garrard (1996). The Power of Feminist Art: The American Movement of the 1970s, History and Impact. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. pp. 88–103. ISBN 9780810926592. Retrieved 11 October 2013. 
  5. ^ Jon Bird, Michael Newman, Rewriting Conceptual Art, Reaktion Books, 1999, p114-5. ISBN 1-86189-052-4
  6. ^ Arlene Raven (1991). "The Last Essay on Feminist Criticism". In Arlene Raven, Cassandra L. Langer, and Joanna Frueh. Feminist Art Criticism: An Anthology. New York: Icon Editions. pp. 229–230. Retrieved 8 January 2014.  via Questia (subscription required)
  7. ^ a b c Dr. Laura Meyer; Nancy Youdelman. "A Studio of Their Own: The Legacy of the Fresno Feminist Art Experiment". A Studio of their Own. Retrieved 8 January 2011. 
  8. ^ Arlene Raven (1991). "The Last Essay on Feminist Criticism". In Arlene Raven, Cassandra L. Langer, and Joanna Frueh. Feminist Art Criticism: An Anthology. New York: Icon Editions. pp. 41–42. Retrieved 8 January 2014.  via Questia (subscription required)
  9. ^ Arlene Raven (1991). "The Last Essay on Feminist Criticism". In Arlene Raven, Cassandra L. Langer, and Joanna Frueh. Feminist Art Criticism: An Anthology. New York: Icon Editions. p. 100. Retrieved 8 January 2014.  via Questia (subscription required)
  10. ^ a b c d "Feminist art movement". The Art Story Foundation. Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  11. ^ Karen Rosenberg (March 28, 2008). "Turning Stereotypes Into Artistic Strengths". New York Times. 
  12. ^ a b c d e Lippard, Lucy R. From the Center: Feminist Essays on Women's Art. New York: Dutton, 1976. p. 42
  13. ^ a b Julie Ault; Social Text Collective; Drawing Center (New York, N.Y.) (2002). Alternative Art, New York, 1965-1985: A Cultural Politics Book for the Social Text Collective. U of Minnesota Press. pp. 27–28. ISBN 978-0-8166-3794-2. 
  14. ^ a b Julie Ault; Social Text Collective; Drawing Center (New York, N.Y.) (2002). Alternative Art, New York, 1965-1985: A Cultural Politics Book for the Social Text Collective. U of Minnesota Press. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-8166-3794-2. 
  15. ^ Julie Ault; Social Text Collective; Drawing Center (New York, N.Y.) (2002). Alternative Art, New York, 1965-1985: A Cultural Politics Book for the Social Text Collective. U of Minnesota Press. pp. 28–29. ISBN 978-0-8166-3794-2. 
  16. ^ Female Artists, Past and Present. Women's History Research Center. 1974. p. 11. 
  17. ^ a b "Los Angeles Council of Women Artists Report". Getty Center. June 15, 1971. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  18. ^ "Abundant Evidence: Black Women Artists of the 1960s and 1970s". Amherst College. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  19. ^ a b c d Mark, Lisa Gabrielle (2008). WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution. Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles. 
  20. ^ a b Burgess Fuller, Diana (2002). Art/Women/California. Berkeley: University of California Press. 
  21. ^ Meredith A.Brown 'The Balance Sheet: A.I.R. Gallery and Government Funding' n.paradoxa: international feminist art journal vol. 27 (Jan 2011) pp.29-37
  22. ^ "40th Anniversary Celebration". National Women's Caucus for Art. 2012. p. 2. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  23. ^ Lippard, Lucy R. From the Center: Feminist Essays on Women's Art. New York: Dutton, 1976. p. 84
  24. ^ Alexandra Juhasz (2001). Women of Vision: Histories in Feminist Film and Video. University of Minnesota Press. pp. 15–16. ISBN 978-0-8166-3371-5. 
  25. ^ John D. H. Downing; John Derek Hall Downing (2011). Encyclopedia of Social Movement Media. SAGE Publications. p. 198. ISBN 978-0-7619-2688-7. 
  26. ^ Nancy A. Naples; Karen Bojar (2 December 2013). Teaching Feminist Activism: Strategies from the Field. Routledge. p. 99. ISBN 978-1-317-79499-8. 
  27. ^ Karen Mary Davalos (2001). Exhibiting Mestizaje: Mexican (American) Museums in the Diaspora. UNM Press. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-8263-1900-5. 
  28. ^ Janet McAdams; Geary Hobson; Kathryn Walkiewicz (9 October 2012). The People Who Stayed: Southeastern Indian Writing After Removal. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-8061-8575-0. 
  29. ^ Katie Cercone 'The New York Feminist Art Institute' n.paradoxa: international feminist art journal vol. 22 (July 2008) pp.49-56 New York Feminist Art Institute
  30. ^ a b Moira Roth (1991). "Visions and Re-Visions: Rosa Luxemburg and the Artist's Mother". In Arlene Raven, Cassandra L. Langer, and Joanna Frueh. Feminist Art Criticism: An Anthology. New York: Icon Editions. p. 109. Retrieved 8 January 2014.  via Questia (subscription required)
  31. ^ Heresies: A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics(1977–92), now the subject of a documentary film, The Heretics.
  32. ^ Brenson, Michael (April 21, 1984). "A Living Artists Show at the Modern Museum". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  33. ^ http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=16632
  34. ^ "''Genders: Feminist Art and (Post)Modern Anxieties''". Genders.org. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 
  35. ^ "M/E/A/N/I/N/G, ed. Susan Bee and Mira Schor". Writing.upenn.edu. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 
  36. ^ "''Woman's Art Journal''". Womansartjournal.org. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 
  37. ^ [1]
  38. ^ [2]
  39. ^ http://www.lttr.org/
  40. ^ http://www.smith.edu/meridians/
  41. ^ http://www.womenandperformance.org/archive.html
  42. ^ Kathleen K. Desmond (1 March 2011). Ideas About Art. John Wiley & Sons. p. 129. ISBN 978-1-4443-9599-0. 
  43. ^ "Feminist art retrospective opens Aug. 26". August 11, 2009. Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  44. ^ The Feminist Art Project. Rutgers University. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
  45. ^ Yerman, Marcia G. (March 14, 2011). "!Women Art Revolution at MoMA". Huffington Post. Retrieved November 7, 2011. 
  46. ^ Voynar, Kim (June 1, 2011). "Review: !Women Art Revolution". Movie City News. Retrieved November 7, 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Armstrong, Carol and Catherine de Zegher (eds.), Women Artists at the Millennium, The MIT Press, Cambridge, 2006.
  • Bee, Susan and Mira Schor (eds.), The M/E/A/N/I/N/G Book, Duke University Press, Durham, NC, 2000.
  • Bloom, Lisa Jewish Identities in American Feminist Art: Ghosts of Ethnicity London & New York: Routledge, 2006.
  • Brown, Betty Ann, ed. Expanding Circles: Women, Art & Community. New York: Midmarch, 1996.
  • Broude, Norma and Mary Garrard The Power of Feminist Art: Emergence,Impact and Triumph of the American Feminist Art Movement New York, Abrams, 1994.
  • Butler, Connie. WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art. 2007.
  • Chicago, Judy. Beyond the Flower: The Autobiography of a Feminist Artist. New York: Viking, 1996.
  • Chicago, Judy. The Dinner Party: A Symbol of Our Heritage. Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1979.
  • Chicago, Judy. Embroidering Our Heritage: The Dinner Party. Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1979.
  • Cottingham, Laura. How Many 'Bad' Feminists Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb? New York: Sixty Percent Solution. 1994.
  • Cottingham, Laura. Seeing Through the Seventies: Essays on Feminism and Art. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: G+B Arts, 2000.
  • Farris, Phoebe (ed) Women Artists of Colour: A bio-critical Sourcebook to 20th Century Artists in the Americas Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1990.
  • Frostig, Karen and Kathy A. Halainka eds. Blaze: Discourse on Art, Women and Feminism USA, Cambridge Scholar, 2007.
  • Hammond, Harmony Lesbian Art in America: A Contemporary History New York: Rizzoli International Publications Inc, 2000.
  • Frueh, Joanna, Cassandra L. Langer, and Arlene Raven, eds. New Feminist Criticism: Art, Identity, Action, 1993.
  • Hess, Thomas B. and Elizabeth C. Baker, eds. Art and Sexual Politics: Women's Liberation, Women Artists, and Art History. New York, Macmillan, 1973
  • Isaak, Jo Anna . Feminism and Contemporary Art: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Laughter. New York: Routledge, 1996.
  • King-Hammond, Leslie (ed) Gumbo Ya Ya: Anthology of Contemporary African-American Women Artists New York: Midmarch Press, 1995.
  • Lippard, Lucy The Pink Glass Swan: Selected Feminist Essays on Art New York: New Press, 1996.
  • Meyer, Laura, ed. A Studio of Their Own: The Legacy of the Fresno Feminist Experiment. Fresno, Calif.: Press at California State University, Fresno, 2009.
  • Perez, Laura Elisa Chicana art : the politics of spiritual and aesthetic altarities Durham, N.C. : Duke University Press ; Chesham: 2007.
  • Phelan, Peggy. Art and Feminism. London: Phaidon, 2001.
  • Raven, Arlene. Crossing Over: Feminism and Art of Social Concern. 1988
  • Siegel, Judy Mutiny and the Mainstream: Talk that Changed Art,1975-1990 New York: Midmarch Arts Press, 1992.
  • Schor, Mira. Wet: On Painting, Feminism, and Art Culture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 1997
  • Wilding. Faith. By Our Own Hands: The Women Artist's Movement, Southern California, 1970-1976.