Feminist art movement in the United States
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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. 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).
- 1 1970s
- 2 1980s
- 3 1990s
- 4 2000s
- 5 2010s
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
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.
Maintenance Art—Proposal for an Exhibition
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.
Initial feminist art classes
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.[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.
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?
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
Three Weeks in May
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.
Organizations and efforts
|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, and operated only for a few years. Its members formed the Women's Interart Center.[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.|
|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. 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.|
|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. They set a precedent for the Guerrilla Girls and other feminist groups.|
|1971||Where We At (WWA)||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.|
|1972||A.I.R. Gallery||Founded||A collective gallery formed in New York and remains in operation.[nb 4]|
|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. 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. [nb 5]|
|1972||Women's Video Festival||Held festivals||The Women's Video Festival was held yearly for a number of years in New York City. Many women artists continue to organize working groups, collectives, and nonprofit galleries in various locales around the world.|
|1973||Artemesia||Founded||A collective gallery formed in Chicago.[nb 4]|
|1973||Las Mujeres Muralistas||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.|
|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."|
|1979||New York Feminist Art Institute||Founded||Founding members: Nancy Azara, Lucille Lessane, Miriam Schapiro, Irene Peslikis |
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.
In 1977, both Chrysalis and Heresies: A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics began publication.[nb 6]
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.
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.
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.
- Feminist Art Journal
- Genders: Feminist Art and (Post)Modern Anxieties
- M/E/A/N/I/N/G had 20 issues (1986-1996) and 5 on-line issues (2002-2011)
- Woman's Art Journal (1980–present)
- n.paradoxa (1998-present)
- The Journal of Women and Performance
- 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)
"WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution"
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.
A Studio of Their Own
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.
The Feminist Art Project
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". 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.
- Feminist art criticism
- Feminist art movement
- Pattern and Decoration art movement, related to feminist art movement
- Where We At Black Women Artists (WWA)
- 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.
- 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."
- Lippard said that the group was founded in 1971.
- 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.
- 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.
- Chrysalis Magazine (1977–80), was organized out of the Los Angeles Woman's Building.
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