Anita Steckel

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Anita Steckel
Anita Arkin

February 24, 1930
Brooklyn, New York, United States
DiedMarch 16, 2012
Manhattan, New York, United States
EducationArt Students League of New York
Known forPainting and Photomontage
AwardsPollock Krasner Grant (2005)

Anita Slavin Arkin Steckel (February 24, 1930, Brooklyn, New York – March 16, 2012, Manhattan, New York) was an American feminist artist known for paintings and photomontages with sexual imagery. She was also the founder of the arts organization "The Fight Censorship Group", whose other members included Hannah Wilke, Louise Bourgeois, Judith Bernstein, Martha Edelheit, Eunice Golden, Juanita McNeely, Barbara Nessim, Anne Sharpe and Joan Semmel.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Steckel was born in New York to Russian Jewish immigrants Dora and Hyman Arkin.[2] She studied art at the High School of Music & Art in Manhattan (now Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art), the Cooper Union, and Alfred University, as well as completing advanced study at the Art Students League of New York with Edwin Dickinson [3][4][5] She also taught for several years at The Art Students League of New York.[3][6]


Steckel began showing her work in both solo and group exhibitions beginning in the late 1960s.[5] In her "Giant Woman" series of works, Steckel painted oversized nude women onto photographs of city scene, an idea associated with a Women's movement theme that women had "outgrown their roles" in society as previously defined.[7] In 1972, her work was exhibited at the Women's Interart Center in New York alongside pieces by the influential feminist artists Judy Chicago, Miriam Schapiro and Faith Ringgold.[8][9]

Steckel came to public attention after her solo exhibition, The Sexual Politics of Feminist Art, held at Rockland Community College in 1973[3][5] The exhibition was controversial because Steckel's work was sexually explicit and some local authorities called for the closure of the show.[3][10][11]

She created a series of artworks concerning erections, in defense of which she said, “If the erect penis is not wholesome enough to go into museums, it should not be considered wholesome enough to go into women.”[12] She also created a series in 1963 which she called "mom art", in reaction to pop art.[12]

In 2001, Steckel's work was exhibited at the Mitchell Algus Gallery.[13]


  1. ^ Mark, Lisa Gabrielle, ed. (2007). WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution. Cambridge, MA and London: MIT Press.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Levin, Gail (2007). "Censorship, Politics, and Sexual Imagery in the work of Jewish-American Feminist Artists". Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies & Gender Issues. 14.
  3. ^ a b c d "Anita Steckel, artist who created erotic works dies at 82". The New York Times. March 25, 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  4. ^ Amateau, Albert (April 5, 2012). "Anita Steckel, sexually provocative painter, was 82". The Villager. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  5. ^ a b c "Anita Steckel CV" (PDF). Brooklyn Museum of Art. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  6. ^ "The Art Students League | Instructors". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  7. ^ Middleton, Rachel. Anita Steckel: The Feminist Art of Sexual Politics. Women in the Arts 32:1 (Winter/Spring 2014), pp. 22-25.
  8. ^ "Group Shows". New York Magazine. February 14, 1972.
  9. ^ "Anita Steckel - New York". Aud Art Gallery. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
  10. ^ "Anita Steckel 2006". Mitchell Algus Gallery. Archived from the original on 2014-01-15. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
  11. ^ "Anita Steckel". Frieze Magazine. October 2009. Archived from the original on 9 January 2013. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
  12. ^ a b Raub, Deborah Fineblum. "Of Peonies & Penises: Anita Steckel's Legacy". July 12, 2012. Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
  13. ^ Goddard, Donald (2001). "Anita Steckel: Self-Images and Montages". The New York Art World. Retrieved 12 January 2013.

External links[edit]

"Anita Steckel". Brooklyn Museum - Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Anita Steckel. Retrieved 12 January 2013.