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1 Art 508 Feminist Theory As it Pertains to The Visual Arts By: Nina Bellanti-Johnson
What is Feminism? Feminism is both an intellectual commitment and a political movement that seeks justice for women and the end of sexism in all forms. Broadly defined, feminist criticism examines the ways in which (literature and other productions-art) reinforce or undermine the economic, political, social, and psychological oppression of women. However, there are many different kinds of feminism. Feminists disagree about what sexism consists in, and what exactly ought to be done about it; they disagree about what it means to be a woman or a man and what social and political implications gender has or should have. Nonetheless, motivated by the quest for social justice, feminist inquiry provides a wide range of perspectives on social, cultural, and political phenomena. Important topics for feminist theory and politics include: the body, class and work, disability, the family, globalization, human rights, popular culture, race and racism, reproduction, science, the self, sex work, and sexuality. The ultimate goal of feminist criticism is to increase our understanding of the woman’s experience, both in the past and the present, and promote our appreciation of women’s value in the world. The feminist art movement refers to the efforts and accomplishments of feminists internationally to make art that reflects women's lives and experiences, as well as to change the foundation for the production and reception of contemporary art. It also sought to bring more visibility to women within art history and art practice.
Summary of Feminist Premises All feminists Share Several Important Assumptions Women are oppressed by patriarchy economically, politically, socially, and psychologically. In every domain that patriarchy reign, woman is the other.
All western(Anglo-European) civilization is deeply rooted in patriarchal ideology.
While biology determines are sex(male or female), our culture determines our gender(masculine or feminine)
All feminist activity has as its ultimate goal to change the world by promoting woman’s equality. Thus all feminist activity can be seen as a form of activity.
Gender issues play a part in every aspect of human production.
Topics in Feminism The Body Popular Culture Class and Work Disability The Family Globalization Sex Work Human Rights Sexuality Science Reproduction The Self Race and Racism
Causes for the Oppression The Male Point of View Many feminists believe that the use of the pronoun he to refer to both sexes reflects and perpetuates a “ habit of seeing”, a way of looking at life, that uses the male experience as the standard by which the experience of both sexes is evaluated. It is a deeply rooted cultural attitude that ignores women’s experience and blinds us to a woman's point of view. Tradition Gender Roles Cast men as rational, strong , protective and decisive; they cast women as emotional(irrational), weak, nurturing and submissive. Patriarchy- any culture that privileges men by promoting traditional gender roles and the male point of view. It is by definition sexist, which means to promote the belief that women are inferior to men. Their objective is to treat women as objects instead of individuals. Patriarchal Woman- a woman who has internalized the norms and values of patriarchy. Biological Essentialism Biological essentialism, or biological determinism is the belief that we are "how we are" because of our genetic makeup, including race and sex. The next step is the assumption that behaviors and preferences are biologically pre-determined, rather than choices we make, or as a result of the environments we are exposed to. Social Constructionism It considers how social phenomena develop in social contexts. Within constructionist thought, a concept or practice is the creation of a particular group: because they believe something socially therefore it becomes truth.
Movements and Ideologies Anarcha-Feminism- combines anarchism with feminism. It generally views patriarchy as a manifestation of involuntary hierarchy. Anarcha-feminists believe that the struggle against patriarchy is an essential part of class struggle, and the anarchist struggle against the State. In essence, the philosophy sees anarchist struggle as a necessary component of feminist struggle and vice-versa. As Susan Brown puts it, "as anarchism is a political philosophy that opposes all relationships of power, it is inherently feminist". Socialist and Marxist Feminism- Socialist feminism connects the oppression of women to Marxist ideas about exploitation, oppression and labor. Socialist feminists think unequal standing in both the workplace and the domestic sphere holds women down. Socialist feminists see prostitution, domestic work, childcare and marriage as ways in which women are exploited by a patriarchal system that devalues women and the substantial work they do. Socialist feminists focus their energies on broad change that affects society as a whole, rather than on an individual basis. They see the need to work alongside not just men, but all other groups, as they see the oppression of women as a part of a larger pattern that affects everyone involved in the capitalist system. Marx felt when class oppression was overcome, gender oppression would vanish as well. According to some socialist feminists, this view of gender oppression as a sub-class of class oppression is naive and much of the work of socialist feminists has gone towards separating gender phenomena from class phenomena. Some contributors to socialist feminism have criticized these traditional Marxist ideas for being largely silent on gender oppression except to subsume it underneath broader class oppression Other socialist feminists, many of whom belong to Radical Women and the Freedom Socialist Party, two long-lived American organizations, point to the classic Marxist writings of Frederick Engels and August Bebel as a powerful explanation of the link between gender oppression and class exploitation.
Radical Feminism considers the male controlled capitalist hierarchy, which it describes as sexist, as the defining feature of women’s oppression. Radical feminists believe that women can free themselves only when they have done away with what they consider an inherently oppressive and dominating patriarchal system. Radical feminists feel that there is a male-based authority and power structure and that it is responsible for oppression and inequality, and that as long as the system and its values are in place, society will not be able to be reformed in any significant way. Some radical feminists see no alternatives other than the total uprooting and reconstruction of society in order to achieve their goals. Liberal Feminism asserts the equality of men and women through political and legal reform. It is an individualistic form of feminism, which focuses on women’s ability to show and maintain their equality through their own actions and choices. Liberal feminism uses the personal interactions between men and women as the place from which to transform society. According to liberal feminists, all women are capable of asserting their ability to achieve equality, therefore it is possible for change to happen without altering the structure of society. Issues important to liberal feminists include reproductive and abortion rights, sexual harassment, voting, education, "equal pay for equal work", affordable childcare, affordable health care, and bringing to light the frequency of sexual and domestic violence against women Black Feminism and Womanism Black feminism argues that sexism, class oppression, and racism are inextricably bound together. Forms of feminism that strive to overcome sexism and class oppression but ignore race can discriminate against many people, including women, through racial bias. One of the theories that evolved out of this movement was Alice Walker's Womanism. It emerged after the early feminist movements that were led specifically by white women who advocated social changes such as woman’s suffrage. These movements were largely white middle-class movements and had generally ignored oppression based on racism and classism. Alice Walker and other Womanists pointed out that black women experienced a different and more intense kind of oppression from that of white women.
French Feminism uses the insights of various epistemological movements, including psychoanalysis, linguistics, political theory (Marxist and post-Marxist theory), race theory, literary theory, and other intellectual currents for feminist concerns. Many post-structural feminists maintain that difference is one of the most powerful tools that females possess in their struggle with patriarchal domination, and that to equate the feminist movement only with equality is to deny women a plethora of options because equality is still defined from the masculine or patriarchal perspective. The largest departure from other branches of feminism is the argument that gender is constructed through language.[ Eco-feminism Eco-feminism links ecology with feminism. Eco-feminists see the domination of women as stemming from the same ideologies that bring about the domination of the environment. Patriarchal systems, where men own and control the land, are seen as responsible for the oppression of women and destruction of the natural environment. Feminist Theology Feminist theology is a movement found in several religions to reconsider the traditions, practices, scriptures, and theologies of those religions from a feminist perspective. Some of the goals of feminist theology include increasing the role of women among the clergy and religious authorities, reinterpreting male-dominated imagery and language about God, determining women's place in relation to career and motherhood, and studying images of women in the religion's sacred texts.
First Wave Feminism The key concerns of First Wave Feminists were education, employment, the marriage laws, and the plight of intelligent middle-class single women. They were not primarily concerned with the problems of working-class women, nor did they necessarily see themselves as feminists in the modern sense (the term was not coined until 1895). First Wave Feminists largely responded to specific injustices they had themselves experienced. Their major achievements were the opening of higher education for women; reform of the girls' secondary-school system, including participation in formal national examinations: the widening of access to the professions, especially medicine; married women's property rights, recognized in the Married Women's Property Act of 1870; and some improvement in divorced and separated women's child custody rights. Active until the First World War, First Wave Feminists failed, however, to secure the women's vote.
Influential Women of the Feminism Mary Wollstonecraft is best known for A Vindication of Rights of Woman(1792), in which she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggests that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagines a social order founded on reason. Wollstonecraft is regarded as the grandmother of British feminism and her ideas shaped the thinking of the suffragettes, who campaigned for the women's vote. After generations of work, this was eventually granted − to some women in 1918, and equally with men in 1928. Virginia Wolfe was a British author who is considered to be one of the foremost figures of both Modernism and feminism in the twentieth century. She wrote A Room of One’s Own (1929), a text that best articulates the materialist-based analysis of female oppression that prove d to be one of the most significant influences on feminist methodology. A Room of One’s Own is Woolf’s comprehensive answer to the ‘woman problem’: the accusation of female inferiority in the arts and elsewhere. Kate Chopin is considered by some to have been a forerunner of feminist authors of the 20th century. The Awakening first published in 1899 , is one of the earliest American novels that focuses on women's issues without condescension. It is also one of the most important novels written by an American woman in the nineteenth century When published it was assailed for its frank depictions of female sexuality but has since been cited by critics and scholars as one of the most influential American novels ever written. It is also widely seen as a landmark work of early feminism. The Awakening was particularly controversial upon publication in 1899. Chopin's novel was considered immoral not only for its comparatively frank depictions of female sexual desire but for its depiction of a protagonist who chafed against social norms and established gender roles.
Susan Brownell Anthony was a prominent American civil rights leader who played a pivotal role in the 19th century woman’s rights movement to introduce woman’s suffrage Sojourner Truth was a U.S. evangelist and reformer. She was born into slavery in Ulster Co., N.Y.. After being freed, she worked as a domestic in New York City (1829-43) and began preaching on street corners with the evangelical missionary Elijah Pierson. Adopting the name Sojourner Truth, she left New York to obey a "call" to travel and preach. Adding abolitionism and women's rights to her religious messages, she traveled in the Midwest, where her magnetism drew large crowds. In the Civil War she gathered supplies for black volunteer regiments and met with President Lincoln. After the war she worked for the freedmen's relief organization and encouraged migration to Kansas and Missouri. Elizabeth CadyStanton came to the women's right movement after being excluded from sessions during an anti-slavery convention because of her sex. She and Lucretia Mott decided that a women's rights convention was in order. Eight years later, in 1848, the first women's rights convention took place at Seneca Falls, New York. It was there that, using the Declaration of Independence as a guide, the Declaration of Sentiments was written. Stanton, with Susan B. Anthony, organized the Women's Loyal National League to fight slavery (1863) and founded the National Woman Suffrage Association (1869) of which Stanton served as president. Best known for her long contribution to the woman suffrage struggle, she was also active and effective in winning property rights for married women, equal guardianship of children, and liberalized divorce laws so that women could leave marriages that were often abusive to the wife, the children, and the economic health of the family. Stanton was also the co-editor of The Revolution, a weekly woman's suffrage paper published by Anthony, and author of The Woman's Bible (1895) and an autobiography, Eighty Years and More (1898).
Simone de Beauvoir is known primarily for her treatise The Second Sex (1949), a scholarly and passionate plea for the abolition of what she called the myth of the "eternal feminine"; the book became a classic of feminist literature. The Second Sex was perhaps the most important treatise on women's rights through the 1980s. When it first appeared, however, the reception was less than overwhelming. The lesson of her own life - that womanhood is not a condition one is born to but rather a posture one takes on - was fully realized here. De Beauvoir's personal frustrations were placed in terms of the general, dependent condition of women. Historical, psychological, sociological, and philosophical, The Second Sex does not offer any concrete solutions except "that men and women rise above their natural differentiation and unequivocally affirm their brotherhood." Karen Horney unlike Freud's belief that biology determines an individual's future, Horney believed that gender identity, behavior, and sexual orientation are a result of experiences and not biology. Even though these feminist psychologists believed the lack of a penis was influential on a young woman's life, it was simply because society empowers men and not because women felt themselves to be defective. Horney believed female inferiority stems from social subordination and not castration. In her mind, women were symbolically castrated by the patriarchal society because it denied women the power a penis represents. Women in this system are forced into feminine roles and then forced to enjoy the subordinate position they have taken in society. According to Horney, as soon as women begin to see themselves as men's equals, society will no longer hold this power over them. Her works include The Neurotic Personality of Our Time (1937), Self-Analysis (1942), Our Inner Conflicts (1945), and Neurosis and Human Growth (1950).
Berthe Morisot 1841 –1895 As a doctrinaire Impressionist as well as a member of the haute bourgeoisie, Morisot painted what she experienced on a daily basis. Her paintings reflect the 19th century cultural restrictions of her class and gender. She avoided urban and street scenes as well as the nude figure and, like her fellow female Impressionist Mary Cassatt, focused on domestic life and portraits in which she could use family and personal friends as models. Paintings like The Cradle (1872), in which she depicted current trends for nursery furniture, reflect her sensitivity to fashion and advertising, both of which would have been apparent to her female audience. Her works include not only landscapes, portraits, garden settings and boating scenes, but also subjects portraying the comfort and intimacy of family and domestic life, as did her colleagues.
Mary Cassatt1844 –1926 Mary Cassatt was an American painter and printmaker. She exhibited her work with the Impressionist painters. Cassatt often created images of the social and private lives of women, with particular emphasis on the intimate bonds between mothers and children. Cassatt saw that works by female artists were often dismissed with contempt unless the artist had a friend or protector on the jury, and she would not flirt with jurors to curry favor. In Chicago , for the 1893 Worlds Columbian Exhibition and Fair , Cassatt was ask to paint a 58’ x 12 ‘ mural foot mural for the north tympanum over the entrance to the Gallery of Honor in the Woman’s Building.
Cassatt designed her mural as an allegorical triptych. The central panel titled Young Women Plucking the Fruits of Knowledge or Science (see above) featured contemporary women picking fruit from a contemporary "tree of knowledge" and passing it on to the younger generation. The left panel was an image of Young Girls Pursuing Fame and the right panel displayed young women engaged in activities associated with the Arts, Music, Dancing. In the left panel, three girls (one in a dark blue dress) reach for "Fame" shown in the upper right corner as a flying female figure whose nudity represents discarding the conventional constraints of society that inhibit accomplishment (especially for girls?). In the left corner is a gaggle of geese, the import of which nobody seems to know, but let me hazard a guess that they represent conventional society "quacking" its disapproval of such unconventional aspirations. The right panel also features three women--perhaps the three girls grown to adulthood and the accomplishments they sought in the left panel? In the center, a woman plays the banjo (see variations on this motif below). To her left, a woman in a popular-styled "accordion" skirt dances. The woman on the right observes appreciatively.
Violet Oakley (1874-1961) She became the first woman to receive the Gold Medal of Honor from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. In 1911, she obtained the commission to create 26 murals for Pennsylvania’s Senate Chambers and the Supreme Court. Not only was Violet Oakley a talented artist, she was also involved in the Woman’s Suffrage Movement. She was also devoted to the ideals of international government and world peace. When the United States refused to join the League of Nations in 1927, Oakley went to Geneva herself as a self-appointed ambassador. Through all her decades of visionary murals, Oakley sought to express her desire and hope for "world peace, equal rights, and faith in the work of unification of the people of the earth.” Violet took her work seriously, and believed she could express her convictions of pacifism and women’s rights through her work. The Pre-Raphaelite influence is notable because the 19th century English movement was influenced by the spiritualism found in Medieval Art, which the founders of the movement felt were lost in succeeding epochs. Something of this spiritual idealism found its way into Violet Oakley’s art
KatheKollwitz 1867-1945 A generation after her death, German artist Kathe Kollwitz is winning a reputation as one of the great graphic artists of the twentieth century. Concentrating on the more "democratic" media—especially etchings, lithographs, posters, and woodcuts, as well as sculpture and bronze reliefs—Kollwitz always created for the people, rather than for the upper class collector. Unlike the voluptuous odalisques so often depicted by male artists, Kollowitz's women are joyous or grief stricken, thoughtful or shielding mothers; forlorn, pregnant, widows; tender friends; prostitutes; militant pacifists or revolutionaries in action. "In Kollwitz's work . . . it is the women who confront the crises head on: they brave war, poverty, homelessness, their husbands' unemployment, servitude, widowhood, sexual abuse, and their children's hunger. In the darkest despair, the women continue to support the lives of others." —Martha Kearns
Outbreak1903etching and drypoint Tod und Frau (Death and Woman ) 1910 etching and drypoint
Georgia O’Keeffe 1887 –1986 Georgia O'Keeffe, one of the most well known American painters, is also considered by some to be the foremother of the feminist art movement. She worked in a discipline dominated by male artists, critics, gallery owners, and curators, who were critical of women artists. Despite these obstacles, O'Keeffe launched a successful career, developing a distinctive painting style that employed organic forms and floral imagery. Her life experiences influenced her art. Since the 1920s her work has become more popular, due, in part, to the feminist movement and its reclamation and rediscovery of women's history. In talking about her work, O'Keeffe said, "The men liked to put me down as the best woman painter. I think I'm one of the best painters" (Chadwick, Women, Art, and Society, 303).
Blue-Green Music 1921 Jack-in-the-Pulpit No. IV 1930 I feel there is something unexplored about woman that only a woman can explore. -Georgia O’Keeffe
Frida Kahlo is one of Mexico's most famous artists and also something of a feminist icon, celebrated for her passionate indomitability in the face of life's trials. She's best known for her daring self-portraits depicting the suffering she experienced in her personal life. Her persona, fashioned over almost three decades of self-portraits, fused physical suffering and emotional isolation. Her frank depiction of a woman's psychic pain made her a feminist icon. Like many prominent women artists of her generation, such as Louise Nevelson and Georgia O'Keefe, Frida Kahlo's art was individualistic and stood apart from mainstream work. They were often overlooked by critics and historians because they were women and outsiders and because their art was difficult to fit into movements and categories. Kahlo has received increased attention since the 1970s as objections to her politics have softened and as interest grows about the role of women artists and intellectuals in history FridaKalo1907 -1954 .
“Henry Ford Hospital”1932
Dorothea Lange was one of the best of the American photographers who used their art to document, and ultimately to alleviate, the human suffering caused by the Great Depression of the 1930s. As she viewed it, photography was not an end in itself, but a means of exploring the world so as to improve it. During the Great Depression, her photos of homeless men led to her employment by a federal agency to bring the plight of the poor to public attention. Her photographs were so effective that the government established camps for migrants. Her Migrant Mother (1936) was the most widely reproduced of all Farm Security Administration pictures. She produced several other photo essays, including one documenting the World War II internment of Japanese-Americans. By showing her subjects as worthier than their conditions, she called attention to the incompleteness of American democracy. And by showing her subjects as worthier than their conditions, she simultaneously asserted that greater democracy was possible. Hostile to “feminism,” she nevertheless behaved like a feminist throughout her life. Dorothea Lange 1895-1965
Migrant Mother (Prairie Mother), 1936 Pledge of Allegiance
Second Wave Feminism The term 'Second Wave‘ of the Women's Movement, Feminist Movement, or the Women's Liberation Movement was coined by Marsha Lear, and refers to the increase in feminist activity which occurred in America, Britain, and Europe from 1960’s onwards. In America, second wave feminism rose out of the Civil Rights and anti-war movements in which women, disillusioned with their second-class status even in the activist environment of student politics, began to band together to contend against discrimination. The tactics employed by Second Wave Feminists varied from highly-published activism to the establishment of small consciousness-raising groups. Feminism successfully addressed a wide range of issues, unofficial inequalities, official legal inequalities, sexuality, family, the workplace, and, perhaps most controversially, reproductive rights. However, it was obvious early on that the movement was not a unified one, with differences emerging between black feminism, lesbian feminism, liberal feminism, and social feminism. Many feminists view the second-wave feminism era as ending with the intra-feminism disputes of the feminist sex wars, over issues such as sexuality and pornography. Second Wave Feminism in Britain was similarly multiple in focus, although it was based more strongly in working-class socialism, as demonstrated by the strike of women workers at the Ford car plant for equal pay in 1968. The slogan 'the personal is political' sums up the way in which Second Wave Feminism did not just strive to extend the range of social opportunities open to women, but also, through intervention within the spheres of reproduction, sexuality and cultural representation, to change their domestic and private lives. Second Wave Feminism did not just make an impact upon western societies, but has also continued to inspire the struggle for women's rights across the world.
Betty Friedan is a women's rights activist, author of The Feminine Mystique, and a founding member of the National Organization for Women, the National Abortion Rights Action League, and the National Women's Political Caucus. The Feminine Mystique became a national best seller and propelled Friedan to a leadership position in the burgeoning movement for women's liberation. In that book Friedan identified a condition she claimed women suffered as the result of a widely accepted ideology that placed them first and foremost in the home. Attacking the notion that "biology is destiny," which ordained that women should devote their lives to being wives and mothers at the expense of other pursuits, Friedan called upon women to shed their domestic confines and discover other meaningful endeavors. GloriaSteinem is a writer and editor During the 1960s she appeared as a leader in the women's movement in the United States. She became a major feminist leader in the late 1960s and in 1971 co-founded MS Magazine, where she serves as contributing editor today. In 1971 she was a co-convener of the National Women's Political Caucus and in l972 helped found the MS Foundation for Women, which raises funds to assist underprivileged girls and women. She is a founding member of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, and her books, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions (1983) and Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem (l992) are best-sellers. Steinem's lifelong activism has inspired women of all ages to fight for their rights, to take risks, and to defend the rights of others. Her writings form a lasting legacy of ideas and personal revelation that continues to inspire and inform. Ruth Mountaingrove was co-publishing the WomanSpirit magazine, from 1974 to 1984. The magazine was nationally distributed and became one of the most influential feminist/lesbian magazines of its time. It publicized the women’s back-to-the-land movement and acted as a forum for discussions of feminism, female spirituality, and patriarchy and oppression. She was an advocate for The Goddess movement which was a loose grouping of social and religious phenomena growing out of second wave feminist movement, predominantly in North America, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand in the 1970s, and the metaphysical community as well. Spurred by the perception that women were not treated equitably in many mainstream religions, many women turned to a Female Deity, as more in tune with their beliefs and spiritual needs. Masculine gender and male imagery were, at the time, attached to deity to the exclusion of female gender and female imagery. A unifying theme of this diverse movement is the female-ness of Deity (as opposed and contrasted to a patriarchal, male "God").
Toni Morrison Toni Morrison is a Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, editor, and professor. Her best known novels are The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved.Mothering is a central issue for feminist theory, and motherhood is also a persistent presence in the work of Toni Morrison. Motherhood, in Morrison’s view, is fundamentally and profoundly an act of resistance, essential and integral to black women’s fight against racism (and sexism) and their ability to achieve well-being for themselves and their culture. The power of motherhood and the empowerment of mothering are what make possible the better world we seek for ourselves and for our children. Although her novels typically concentrate on black women, Morrison does not identify her works as feminist. She has stated that she thinks "it's off-putting to some readers, who may feel that I'm involved in writing some kind of feminist tract. I don't subscribe to patriarchy, and I don't think it should be substituted with matriarchy. I think it's a question of equitable access, and opening doors to all sorts of things.” Alice Walker is an American author. She has written at length on issues of race and gender, and is most famous for the critically acclaimed novel The Color Purple for which she won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.. Black feminism argues that sexism, class oppression, and racism are inextricably bound together. Forms of feminism that strive to overcome sexism and class oppression but ignore race can discriminate against many people, including women, through racial bias. One of the theories that evolved out of this movement was Alice Walker’s Womanism. It emerged after the early feminist movements that were led specifically by white women who advocated social changes such as woman’s suffrage. These movements were largely white middle-class movements and had generally ignored oppression based on racism and classism. Alice Walker and other Womanists pointed out that black women experienced a different and more intense kind of oppression from that of white women.
Carol Gilligan devised a theory of how women’s stages moral development differed from men’s. Her theories were published in her 1982 book, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development. Carol Gilligan is best known for her work on moral development in girls and women. Because of her views that women were different than men, Carol Gilligan is considered the founder of difference feminism. Difference feminism holds that women think, feel, and behave differently than men, but that because men are upheld as the standard, what is normal for women is therefore considered inferior to what is normal for men. Andrea Dworkin (born in Camden, New York) is an American radical feminist and writer. In her numerous books, articles and speeches she has analyzed pornography, prostitution and male violence against women, drawing from her own experience of prostitution and rape. She has met vicious criticism from both right and left, the right vilifying her as man-hater and threat to family values, and the left accusing her of being unreasonably pessimistic, proponent of censorship and against all sex. In response to Dworkin's criticism on pornography, she has been a target of defamation and slander from publishers of pornography, including pornographic cartoons of her in the Hustler magazine. Dworkin, together with the feminist solicitor Catharine MacKinnon, has drafted a proposal for a law, which defines pornography a civil rights violation against women and allows women harmed by it a chance to sue the producers and distributors of pornography in a civil court for damages.
Faith Ringgold Fairth Ringgold is an artist, author, and political activist. Ringgold, born in 1930 in Harlem, began her artistic career in the early 1960s as a painter. She is widely recognized for her painted story quilts – art that combines painting, quilted fabric and storytelling. She began teaching art in New York's public schools in the 1950s. In 1963 she began her "American People" series of paintings, which dealt with the civil-rights movement from a female perspective. In the 1970s she became active in promoting feminist art and the racial integration of the New York art world. Her famous "story quilts," inspired by Tibetan tankas, depict stories set in the context of African American history. She adapted one of her quilts, Tar Beach, as a children's book and went on to publish other books for children.
The Picnic at Giverny
The Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles
For the Woman's House
Miriam Schapiro, entered the art world in the 1950s at a time when the dominant American art was extremely abstract and largely produced by men, made the position of the woman as an artist in the twentieth century and the position of the woman as a woman in twentieth century culture central ideas in her work. She does this through her use of images which suggest female activities and crafts, her evocation of the work of earlier women artists in her own, and her creation of works which are extremely ornate and decorative (qualities which are often condemned in art but which are found in many of the textile crafts associated with "women's work"). Taken together, her works, like those of Faith Ringgold, generally defy categorization in terms of traditional media (sculpture, painting, graphics).* The word Schapiro invented to describe her medium was "femmage" using this to refer to the combination of paint and fabric in compositions with a theme or meaning that pertained to women, taking her imagery and icons primarily from the women's sphere of culture and life: quilts, houses, clothing, fans. Miriam Schapiro Her collaborative artworks are made in this vein: she collaborates with the work of female artists whom she wants to place in an artistic genealogy with herself. Such works serve two purposes for Schapiro: they allow her to pay homage to artists whose legacy she wants to preserve, and they provide her with a framework for an introspective search and the attempt to construct her own artistic persona. In 1970 Schapiro met Judy Chicago. The two artists shared a feminist viewpoint and a desire to confront their own life experiences as women through the medium of art. In 1971 they founded the Feminist Art Program at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia.
Against All Odds 2004 Mary Cassatt and Me 1976
“Womanhouse” 30 January - 28 February, 1972 Womanhouse was a women-only art installation and performance organized by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro, co-founders of the California Institute of the Arts (Cal-Arts) Feminist Art Program. It was an art experiment that addressed the experiences of women. Chicago, Schapiro, their students and artists from the local community participated. Paula Harper, an art historian who also taught at CalArts, suggested the idea to create a collaborative art installation in a house. Chicago and Schapiro encouraged their students to use consciousness-raising techniques to generate the content of the exhibition. Each woman was given a room or space of her own in a 17-room mansion in Hollywood, California. Womanhouse received national media attention and introduced the public to the idea of Feminist Art. Womanhouse group portrait 1971 Cover of the Exhibition Catalogue Womanhouse (showing Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro
Judy Chicago Judy Chicago is an artist, author, feminist, educator, and intellectual whose career now spans four decades. Her work and life are models for an enlarged definition of art, an expanded role for the artist, and a woman’s right to freedom of expression. In the early seventies, after a decade of professional art practice, Chicago pioneered Feminist Art and art education through unique programs for women at California State University, Fresno, and the California Institute of the Arts where she helped establish the Feminist Art Program which resulted in Womanhouse, the first installation demonstrating an openly female point of view in art. Chicago’s ideas helped to initiate a worldwide Feminist Art movement.
The Dinner Party1975–1979Installation The Dinner Party is an installation artwork by feminist artist Judy Chicago depicting place settings for 39 mythical and historical famous women. It was produced from 1974 to 1979 as a collaboration and was first exhibited in 1979. Since 2007 it has been on permanent exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, New York City, United States of America .Judy Chicago stated that its purpose was to "end the ongoing cycle of omission in which women were written out of the historical record.” The table is triangular and measures forty-eight feet on each side. Each place setting features a table runner embroidered with the woman's name and images or symbols relating to her accomplishments, with a napkin, utensils, a glass or goblet, and a plate. Many of the plates feature a butterfly or flower-like sculpture as a vulva symbol. The Dinner Party celebrates traditional female accomplishments such as textile arts (weaving, embroidery, sewing) and china painting, which have been framed as craft or domestic art, as opposed to the more culturally valued, male dominated fine arts. The white floor of triangular porcelain tiles is inscribed with the names of a further 999 notable women.
The Dinner Party 1974-1979
39 from the book by Cynthia Freeland, “But is it Art?” wrote of The Dinner Party: “1979 when The Dinner Party was first exhibited, many writers, including feminists, have criticized it as either vulgar or too political, or else as too “essentialist”. Some critics argue that art that focuses so much on anatomy and sexual embodiment ignores differences due to women’s social class, race, and sexual orientation. The Dinner Party has been called simplistic and reductive — as if the achievements of women it is meant to celebrate are cancelled out by the omnipresent and repeated vaginal imagery of each place setting.” More from Cynthia Freeland’s book on the topic of “feminine art”: “And when quilts, pots, blankets and rugs got into art museums, they often were described as being made by “anonymous” or “nameless masters” — even when it was known (or could have been discovered) who produced the work! This suggests that women’s art flows naturally, without struggle or training, and is too naive to exemplify an artistic style or tradition.”
40 The Dinner Party is a Church SupperJudy Chicago at the Brooklyn Museum by Maureen Mullarkey peachiness of the exhibition is outdone only by the prettiness of it. This is a very pretty show– in the way that limited edition plates marketed by the Royal Dutch Horticultural Society are pretty. Chicago's plates are the Hummel figurines of the feminist movement. It is the vapid prettiness of the imagery, not its explicit sexual reference, that aligns the exhibition with Playboy and Penthouse. It shares with the air-brushed nudes in center-fold displays a dogged refusal to regard the real thing. Substituting titillation for discernment, The Dinner Party distorts the women it pretends to commemorate. If only Chicago were clowning, if there were some hint of the comic in these "butterfly-vagina" plates. But no, the nonsense is dished straight up. The exhibition might have been a satiric rejoinder to the old canard that the center of a woman's creativity is between her legs. But that would have required the hilarity of a Marcel Duchamp or the wit of Red Grooms. Chicago has more in common with Carl McIntire than with either of these. And so the seriousness of the show reaffirms the notion it sets out to demolish: turn 'em upside down and they all look alike. -Maureen has lectured at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and has written on art and cultural issues for various national publications, including The Nation, Crisis, Commonweal, Hudson Review, Arts, Newsday, The New York Times, and Review NY. She is a member of the International Association of Art Critics (A.I.C.A.) and the National Arts Club. She was elected to Who's Who in American Art in 1991.Maureen Mullarkey is a Contributing Editor at Art Critical and a columnist for The New York Sun.
41 “ -Wylder maintains that Chicago never wavers from a feminine perspective. "Her work keeps a vital question hovering whether that question is directly addressed or not: What does it mean to be a female person who is an artist? That information is not readily available to most people even when they study art. In a culture that still heavily favors the male artist, Chicago’s question is essential," she writes. Chicago’s work is fueled in part by the lack of a complete female historical record, Wylder says. "Treated as something apart, women artists were either dismissed by society, as well as by art historians, or were sometimes looked upon as undismissable aberrations from the norm," Wylder contends. "The record, an erratic and spotty reporting of women’s names across the centuries, provides a means for the false charge that there was no legitimate women artists in the past and certainly no ‘great’ women artists." She asserts that Chicago’s work strikes a nerve in everyone, sometimes positively, sometimes negatively. In 1985, her Birth Project showing in Washington, D.C. prompted reviewer Paul Richard to compare the imagery to "crotch shots" in Hustler magazine. Likewise, The Holocaust Project drew criticism from the Jewish community because of its comparisons with other historical genocides, such as Native Americans, and potential holocausts, such as nuclear proliferation. From Chicago’s creation of the nation’s first feminist art program at Fresno State College in California in 1970, the artist has attracted attention. "Although Chicago’s work is an exploratory tribute to the female spirit, whatever shape that female spirit may take, this exhibition of her work is also a tribute to the work itself, for its ability to raise lasting issues and to change our cultural images, the symbols that help to mold us into who we are," Wylder concludes. Tom Stanley, Winthrop Galleries director Viki Thompson Wylder, Museum of Fine Arts, Florida State University.The powerful visual images of "Judy Chicago: Trials and Tributes" will appear at the Winthrop University Galleries Organized and curated by Dr. Viki D. Thompson Wylder at the Museum of Fine Arts at Florida State University, A catalogue accompanies the exhibition with an introduction by art critic Lucy Lippard and an essay by Wylder.
42 -Feminist critic Lucy Lippardstated, “My own initial experience was strongly emotional… The longer I spent with the piece, the more I became addicted to its intricate detail and hidden meanings,” and defended the work as an excellent example of the feminist effort.[These reactions are echoed by other critics, and the work was glorified by many. Hilton Kramer art critic and cultural commentator, argued, “The Dinner Party reiterates its theme with an insistence and vulgarity more appropriate, perhaps, to an advertising campaign than to a work of art” .He called the work not only a kitsch object but also “crass and solemn and single-minded,” “very bad art,… failed art,… art so mired in the pieties of a cause that it quite fails to acquire any independent artistic life of its own”. The lack of typical “fine art” materials is problematic for Kramer and similar critics. California Congressman Robert K. Dornan, saidin a statement that it was “ceramic 3-D pornography. Artist Cornelia Parker nominated it as a work she would like to see "binned", saying, "Too many vaginas for my liking. I find it all about Judy Chicago's ego rather than the poor women she's supposed to be elevating – we're all reduced to vaginas, which is a bit depressing. It's almost like the biggest piece of victim art you've ever seen. And it takes up so much space! I quite like the idea of trying to fit it in some tiny bin – not a very feminist gesture but I don't think the piece is either."
Kirsten Justesen was born in 1943. Her activities comprise a wide range of genres, from body art and performance art, to sculptures and installation. Justesen was part of the avant-garde scene of the 1960s, where she became a pioneering figure within the three-dimensional modes of art that incorporate the artist's own body as artistic material. These experiments led her in the direction of the so-called feminist art which challenged traditional value systems during the 1970s. Kirsten Justesen is one of the greatest and most original artists in Danish art. The 1970s were especially dedicated to an investigation into the feminine gaze at a time where Justesen’s studio was located between the kitchen and the nursery. Justesen is continuously fighting for women artists’ rights and influence in the art world at many levels--from her work on various boards and positions in foundations, to co-organizing seminars concerning women artists’ positions in society. Kirsten Justesen
Sculpture II -1968
CaroleeSchneemann CaroleeSchneemann is an American visual artist, known for her discourses on the body, sexuality and gender. A pioneering visual artist, she has transformed the dynamics of the body through her photography, installations and performances, integrating it as a formal material and as visual territory. As early as the 1970s, Schneemann's work became part of the canon of feminist art, as some of the first visual images that provided a lexicon of an explicitly feminist avant-garde vocabulary. One of Schneemann's primary focuses in her work is the separation between eroticism and the politics of gender. Unlike much other feminist art, Schneemann's revolves around sexual expression and liberation, rather than referring to victimization or repression of women.Schneemann'swork resists the political correctness enforced by some branches of feminism as well as ideologies which feminists claim are misogynist , such as psychoanalysis. Schneemann wrote that she used nudity in her artwork to break taboos associated with the kinetic human body and to show that "the life of the body is more variously expressive than a sex-negative society can admit."She also stated, "In some sense I made a gift of my body to other women; giving our bodies back to ourselves." She preferred her term "art istorical" (without the h), so as to reject the "his" in history.
Eye Body Interior Scroll
Cindy Sherman In Sherman's distinctive self-portraits she is dressed up and made up to portray hundreds of different women and occasionally men, but never herself. She says her art deals with female stereotypes, and they are portraits not of how she sees herself but how she sees men seeing women. Over the years her repertoire of images has included movie stars, centerfold nudes, fairytale characters, victims of disasters, and historical figures. Some of her portraits have produced comic or grotesque effects with plastic body parts, dolls, and her own made up body. Her work has been exhibited worldwide Throughout her career she would continue to be the model in her photographs, donning wigs and costumes that evoke images from the realms of advertising, television, film, and fashion and that, in turn, challenge the cultural stereotypes about women supported by these media. During the 1980s Sherman's work featured mutilated bodies and reflected concerns such as eating disorders, insanity, and death. She returned to ironic commentary upon female identities in the 1990s, introducing mannequins and dolls to some of her photographs.
Untitled #1531985 Untitled Film Still #131978 Untitled #8 1981
Third Wave Feminism Third-wave feminism is a term identified with several diverse strains of feminist activity and study from 1990 to the present. The movement arose as a response to perceived possible failures and backlash against initiatives and movements created by second wave feminism of the 1960s through the 1970s and the realization that "women" are of "many colors, ethnicities, nationalities, religions and cultural backgrounds".Like the feminists before them, the Third Wave focuses on the economic, political, social, and personal empowerment of women. However, this newer form of feminism focuses more on the individual empowerment of women and less on activism. It celebrates women’s journeys to build meaningful identities in the complex contemporary world. The third wave embraces contradictions and conflict, and accommodates diversity and change. There is no all-encompassing single feminist idea.
Characteristics of Third Wave Feminism
Third Wave feminism celebrates women’s multiple and sometimes contradictory identities in today’s world. Third Wave feminists are encouraged to build their own identities from the available buffet, and to not worry if the items on their plate are not served together traditionally. Women can unapologetically celebrate a plate full of entrée choices like soccer mom, career woman, lover, wife, lesbian, activist, consumer, girly girl, tomboy, sweetheart, bitch, good girl, princess, or sex symbol.
Third Wave feminism encourages personal empowerment and action. Third Wave feminists like to think of themselves as survivors, not victims.
Although Third Wave feminists do not reject political activism, the emphasis is more on using one’s personal empowerment as a starting point for societal change.
Third Wave feminism celebrates emotions and experiences that traditionally have been labeled as “unfeminine.” Women are invited to be angry, aggressive, and outspoken.
Third Wave feminism celebrates women’s sexuality and encourages women to explore sexual options and express themselves in whatever ways they feel comfortable. The double standard and titles like “slut” are discarded. Third Wave feminist do not apologize for their sexual relationships and adventures.
Third Wave feminists celebrate diversity. The Women’s Liberation Movement often was criticized for focusing too narrowly on the experiences of middle-class, white, heterosexual women.
As is characteristics of Generation X and Generation Y, Third Wave feminists express themselves through popular culture and use it in their personal journeys to define identity. They look for women, images, and musicians who represent their own struggles.
The Guerrilla Girls are an anonymous group of radical feminist artists established in New York City in 1985, known for posters, books, billboards, appearances and other creative forms of culture jamming that expose discrimination and corruption. Trained as visual artists, their first work was putting up posters on the streets of New York decrying the gender and racial imbalance of artists represented in galleries and museums. Over the years they expanded their activism to examine Hollywood and the film industry, popular culture, gender stereotyping and corruption in the art world. They wear gorilla masks in public and take the names of dead women artists as pseudonyms. They have remained anonymous to this day. Guerrilla Girls The Guerilla girls are a well known group of women who founded themselves during the eighties when a group of female artist got together, and realized that the capitalism of the Reagan years had created a backlash to female artists. Realizing that feminist art in the 70s was ten fold what it was in the 80s, the Guerilla girls began to take action. They organized protests made posters, rallied outside large corporate galleries dressed in Gorilla masks and fought for a revival of feminist art. The Gorilla girls receive most of their funding from independent fundraising or from donations of other up and coming female artists. Gorilla Girls have constructed a website providing links to other websites for feminist related issues a history of the activities of the Gorilla Girls, a guide to art “herstory”(www.guerillagirls.com), interviews, tours, exhibitions of Gorilla Girl art work, information on Gorilla girl books and a newsletter discussing an array of current feminist issues and events.
Jennifer Linton The primary focus of Linton’s artistic practice is to address gender-related issues and represent the experiences of women. Inspired by the second wave feminists, who coined the phrase ‘the personal is political’, Linton’s work reflects her personal experiences filtered through the lens of art history, mythology and popular culture. Most recently, Linton's work continues her diaristic approach to image-making with an exploration of pregnancy & motherhood. As her role as primary caregiver to her child develops and evolves, so too does the content of the work to reflect the many corollary issues relating to motherhood, including gender identity, sexuality and body image. Linton's aim is to present an honest and unsentimentalized view of motherhood that challenges the clichéd images often found in the mainstream media. Self-Portrait with the Immaculate Heart
Me & My Doll The Bitter Seed Salome, St. Ursula & the Eleven Thousand Virgins Series
Barbara Kruger Barbara Kruger , born 1945, is an American conceptual artist. She layers found photographs from existing sources with pithy and aggressive text that involves the viewer in the struggle for power and control that her captions speak to. In their trademark black letters against a slash of red background, some of her instantly recognizable slogans read “I shop therefore I am,” and “Your body is a battleground." Much of her text questions the viewer about feminism, classicism, consumerism, and individual autonomy and desire, although her black-and-white images are culled from the mainstream magazines that sell the very ideas she is disputing. As well as appearing in museums and galleries worldwide, Kruger’s work has appeared on billboards, buscards, posters, a public park, a train station platform in Strasbourg, France, and in other public commissions. "I work with pictures and words because they have the ability to determine who we are and who we aren't" - Barbara Kruger
Untitled You Are Not Yourself Maxwell L. Anderson, director of the Whitney Museum, commented, "it is especially timely that we are hosting the Barbara Kruger exhibition at the Whitney, where Kruger's work was shown as early as the 1973 Biennial. Kruger's powerful juxtapositions of pictures and words have had a profound influence on other artists and on the way we see the world.”
Kruger's work addresses the cultural representations of power, identity and sexuality, and challenges the spectacles of stereotypes and cliches. Since 1980, her work with pictures and words has developed into a highly recognizable, consistent visual language. In her iconic photo/text montages, the artist juxtaposes striking images with equally striking phrases like "Your body is a battleground," "We have received orders not to move," and "I shop therefore I am.
57 Untitled 1981 Untitled 1981 Untitled 1981
Victoria Van Dyke Victoria Van Dyke is a Canadian lesbian feminist artist/photographer. Van Dyke was raped when she was eleven years old and the burden of her memories has caused her to create some highly disturbing art pieces. She frequently discusses the idea of cannibalism. She uses cannibalism as a metaphor for evil within modern society, businessmen eating each other and eating the poor in order to make themselves fat/rich. She often titles her work with numbers, and uses models. Victoria Van Dyke uses guns to represent penises, crosses and other patriarchal images. She collages together pictures from porn websites, erotica websites, gun advertisements to create new works of social commentary.
Ms America #04
She is a conceptual photographer, performance artist and sculptor. She is a contemporary artist whose work focuses mostly on process. She often uses her whole body of different parts of it, such as her mouth, hair, eyelashes, as tools and with them performs everyday activities to create her artwork. Antoni often confronts issues such as materiality, process, the body, cultural perceptions of femininity, and her arts historical roots. In Loving Care (1992) Antoni uses her hair as a paintbrush and Loving Care hair dye as her paint. Antoni dips her hair in a bucket of hair dye and mops the gallery floor on her hands and knees and in the process pushes the viewers out of the gallery space. Once again, in this process. Antoni explores the body, as well as themes of power, femininity, and the style of abstract expressionism. Janine Antoni In Loving Care, Antoni’s oddly impassioned public performance of actions resembling housework made a peculiarly provocative mess; her association of an act of household drudgery with that of art-making drew attention to assumptions of gender embedded in the notion of artistic genius, and the conventional separation of art and life or the everyday. Loving Care