Activist Art: Conceptualizing Race and Gender


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Overview of artists involved in the Civil Rights Movement and Women's Rights Movement.

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Activist Art: Conceptualizing Race and Gender

  1. 1. Radical  Alterna-ves  to  Modernist   Art   Conceptualizing  Race  and  Gender  
  2. 2. Art  and  Poli-cs  •  Conceptualism  challenge  to  authority  paved  the   way  for  ar-sts  to  turn  the  inves-ga-on  toward   other  aspects  of  life-­‐including  inadequacies  of   representa-on  based  on  race  and  gender.  •  The  1960s  gave  birth  to  social  groups  that   ac-vated  the  individual.  •  Ar-sts  learned  from  this  and  applied  what  they   learned  to  their  art.  •  Ar-s-c  process  grew  to  emphasize  social   implica-ons  of  art.  
  3. 3. Feminist  Art  The  Feminist  Arts  Program  •  Originally  established  by  Judy   Chicago  in  1971.   –  Chicago  appealed  to  Miriam   Schapiro  for  assistance  when   the  program  moved  in  1972.  •  The  mission  of  the  program   was  to  educate  young   women  in  the  arts-­‐to  teach   them  how  to  be  ar-sts,  to   supply  them  with  the  skills  to   create,  and  to  introduce   them  to  the  history  of   women  ar-sts.   –  It  was  the  first  exclusively   Judy  Chicago,  Miriam  Schapiro,  and  students  of   female  art  program  in  the   The  Feminist  Art  Program,  Womanhouse,  30   United  States.   January  -­‐  28  February,  1972.    Mixed  media   installa-on,  performance  piece,  and  Happening.  
  4. 4. Feminist  Art  Womanhouse  •  When  the  Feminist   Arts  Program  moved   to  the  California   Ins-tute  of  the  Arts  in   1972,  the  program’s   first  mee-ngs  were   heldin  the  homes  and   apartments  of  its   teachers  and   students.  •  The  first  group   project  was   Womanhouse.   The  instructors  and  students  of  Womanhouse,  c.1972.  
  5. 5. Feminist  Art  Womanhouse    •  Womanhouse  was  a  mul--­‐media   collabora-ve  installa-on/ performance  piece.  •  Each  room  in  the  house  took  on  a   different  subject  and  the  women   assigned  to  design  the  space   presented  viewers  with  a   statement  regarding  the  living   condi-ons  of  a  women  who  were   home-­‐makers.  •  Orgel’s  Ironing,  consisted  of  the   ar-st  ironing  sheets  and  linens   con-nuously;  as  the  sheet  would   pile  up  on  the  floor  and  re-­‐wrinkle,   communica-ng  the  monotony  of  a   woman’s  life  in  the  home  to  the   Sandra  Orgel,  Ironing,  1972.  From   audience.   Womanhouse.  Performance.  Photograph   courtesy  of  Through  the  Flower  archive.    
  6. 6. Feminist  Art  Womanhouse  •  One  of  the  best  known  works  to   come  out  of  Womanhouse  was   Sandra  Orgel’s  Linen  Closet.   –  Please  note  the  textbook  has  a   misprint  of  the  ar-st’s  name.  •  Linen  Closet  features  a  female   mannequin  on  the  shelf  in  between   the  sheets  she  is  responsible  for   cleaning,  ironing,  folding,  and   storing.  •  This  work,  like  Orgel’s  Ironing,  also   addresses  the  repe--veness  of   women’s  ac-vi-es  inside  the  home.   –  Interes-ngly,  this  repe--veness  is   reminiscent  of  Minimalist  aesthe-c.         Sandra  Orgel,  Linen  Closet,  from   Womanhouse,  1972.    Mixed  media  
  7. 7. Feminist  Art  Judy  Chicago  (b.1939)  •  Chicago  built  this  piece  to  address   women’s  menstrua-on,  something   rarely  addressed  in  public,  by   women,  or  by  art.  •  The  room  was  a  very  sani-zed   white  with  the  excep-on  of   feminine  hygiene  products  covered   in  blood.  •  Chicago  wrote  that  she  wanted  to   address  a  topic  she  hadn’t  even   talked  to  her  friends  about  and  get   it  out  into  the  open  challenging  the   prac-ce  of  keeping  the  personal   private  and  making  it  public.   Judy  Chicago,  Menstrua5on  Bathroom,  1972.     Mixed-­‐media  installa-on  piece/environment     from  Womanhouse,  1972.      
  8. 8. •  Ar-sts  associated   with  Womanhouse   drew  inspira-on   from  experience,   cultural  conven-on,   and  from  visual   history.   •  Huberland’s  Bridal   Staircase  recalls   Duchamp’s  Nude   Descending  a   Staircase,  a    Marcel  Duchamp,  Nude  Descending  a  Staircase,  No. scandalous  work  2,  1912.  Oil  on  canvas,  58   from  the  1913  NY   Kathy  Huberland,  Bridal   x  35 .    Philadelphia   Armory  Show.   Staircase,  1972.    Installa-on   Museum  of  Art.   piece  from  Womanhouse,  CA.  
  9. 9. LA  Cool  School  Judy  Chicago  (b.  1939)  •  Before  commigng  to   Feminist  Art,  Chicago   worked  in  the  CA   Cool  School  style.   Judy  Chicago,  Rainbow  PickeC,  1965–2004.     Plywood,  canvas,  and  latex  paint,  each  column   is  1  cubed  and  arranged  at  45°  angle  to  wall.   Brooklyn  Museum  of  Art.    
  10. 10. Feminist  Art  Judy  Chicago  (b.  1939)  •  In  the  late  1960s,  Chicago   became  heavily  invested  in  the   Women’s  Rights  Movement.  •  She  extended  this  interest  to  art   and  aside  from  heading  up  the   Feminist  Arts  Program,  created   controversial,  in-­‐your-­‐face  works   like  this,  Red  Flag.   –   Red  Flag  plays  on  the  “red  scare”   of  Communism  (people  associated   with  both  the  Civil  Rights  and   Women’s  Movement  were  omen   Judy  Chicago,  Red  Flag,  1971.       accused  of  being  Communist   Photolithograph,  20"x  24,"  printed  from   sympathizers).   aluminum  plates  by  Sam  Francis  in  his   –  It  is  a  celebra-on  of  women  and   personal  workshop,  1971.  Judy  Chicago   womanhood.   donated  this  print  (number  51  of  94)  to   the  Museum  of  Menstrua-on  in  1998.  
  11. 11. Judy  Chicago,  The  Dinner  Party,  1974-­‐1979.    Mixed  media  installa-on  piece.  White  -le  floor  has   999  names  inscribed;  triangular  table  with  painted  porcelain,  sculpted  porcelain  plates,  and   needlework,  each  side  48 .  Currently  housed  at  the  Brooklyn  Museum  of  Art,  NY.  
  12. 12. Feminist  Art  Judy  Chicago  (b.  1939)  •  The  most  iconic  work  to  be   produced  by  early  feminists   is  The  Dinner  Party.      •  Conceived  by  Chicago,  The   Dinner  Party  relied  on  the   effort  of  over  100   volunteers.   –  Chicago  has  been  -relessly   cri-cized  for  not  giving  the   Judy  Chicago,  The  Dinner  Party,  1974-­‐1979.     women  who  volunteered   Mixed  media  installa-on  piece.  White  -le   enough  credit.       floor  has  999  names  inscribed;  triangular   table  with  painted  porcelain,  sculpted   porcelain  plates,  and  needlework,  each  side   48 .  Currently  housed  at  the  Brooklyn   Museum  of  Art,  NY.  
  13. 13. Judy  Chicago  (b.  1939)   Feminist  Art  •  The  Dinner  Party  is  a  large,  mul--­‐ media  installa-on  piece.  •  It  consists  of  three  tables  arranged   in  the  shape  of  a  triangle.  •  The  table  is  set  with  100  plates   represen-ng  women  from   prehistory  through  the  1970s.   –  Each  plate  is  decorated  with   Chicago’s  feminist  vocabulary-­‐the   buoerfly  or  vulval  imagery  she   and  Schapiro  established  while   teaching  at  the  Feminist  Arts   Program.     –  An  addi-onal  999  names  are   Judy  Chicago,  The  Dinner  Party,  1974-­‐1979.     inscribed  on  the  white  -les  that   Mixed  media  installa-on  piece.  White  -le   support  the  table.   floor  has  999  names  inscribed;  triangular   •  The  ar-st  makes  use  of  numerology,   table  with  painted  porcelain,  sculpted   playing  with  numbers  3  (the  Trinity)   porcelain  plates,  and  needlework,  each  side   and  13  (the  number  of  men  present   48 .  Currently  housed  at  the  Brooklyn   at  the  Last  Supper).     Museum  of  Art,  NY.  
  14. 14. Feminist  Art  Judy  Chicago  (b.  1939)  •  Chicago’s  TDP  is  a  product   of  its  -me.  •  It  is  biologically  essen-alist-­‐ a  theory  that  reduces   women  to  their  biology.   –  Chicago  believed  women’s   biology,  their  vaginas,  were   their  source  of  greatness.   –  This  was  common  in  the   earliest  wave  of  American   feminism.   Judy  Chicago,  The  Dinner  Party,  1974-­‐1979.     Mixed  media  installa-on  piece.  White  -le   •  Later  genera-ons  took  a   floor  has  999  names  inscribed;  triangular   much  different  view  and   greatly  cri-cized  Chicago  for   table  with  painted  porcelain,  sculpted   this  posi-on.   porcelain  plates,  and  needlework,  each  side   48 .  Currently  housed  at  the  Brooklyn     Museum  of  Art,  NY.  
  15. 15. Feminist  Art  Mary  Kelly  (b.  1941)  •  A  contemporary  of  Chicago’s,  Kelly’s   poli-cs  was  nevertheless  dissimilar  from   Chicago’s  essen-alism.  •  Kelly  took  a  psychological  approach  to   her  work  applying  Freudian  and  Lacanian   theory  to  her  first  experiences  as  a   mother.   –  Her  Post-­‐Partum  Document   inves-gates  a  mother’s  rela-onship  to   her  newborn  child  and  Freudian   theories  of  the  phallus.  •  Kelly  documented  her  son’s  life  keeping   journals  of  everything  he  ate,  when,  the   quality  of  bowel  movements,  etc.       Mary  Kelly,  Post  Partum  Document:  I   –  She  created  mixed  media  “pain-ngs”   Analyzed  fecal  stains  and  feeding   using  feces,  baby  spit-­‐up,  etc.  for  the   charts,  1974.    Perspex  units,  white   visual  aspect  of  the  piece.   card,  diaper  lining,  plas-c  shee-ng,   paper,  and  ink.  Art  Gallery,  Ontario.  
  16. 16. Feminist  Art  Guerilla  Girls  (1985)  •  Established  in  1985,  Guerilla   Girls  is  a  group  of  women,  all  of   whom  work  in  the  art  industry   as  ar-sts,  curators,  cri-cs,   instructors,  etc.  toward  the   goal  of  educa-ng  the  world  of   the  gender  and  racial   inequali-es  in  the  art  world.  •  Members’  true  iden-ty   remains  anonymous,  each   woman  adopts  the  name  of  a   woman  from  art’s  history   (Georgia  O’Keeffe,  Artemisia   Gen-leschi)  in  effort  to  avoid   repercussion  and  to  not  use   the  group  to  her  advantage.   Guerilla  Girls,  The  Advantages  of  Being  a   Woman  Ar5st,  1988.      
  17. 17. Feminist  Art  Guerilla  Girls  (1985)  •  The  group  is  best  known   for  its  covert  ac-ons-­‐ pugng  up  posters  around   Manhaoan  publishing  the   inequali-es  in  the  art   world  or  sarcas-c  reasons   for  advantages  of  being  a   woman  ar-st.  •  Like  the  SI,  they  use   public  space  to  disrupt   everyday  ac-vity.     Guerilla  Girls,  The  Advantages  of  Being  a   Woman  Ar5st,  1988.      
  18. 18. Feminist  Art  Guerilla  Girls  (1985)  •  One  of  the  beoer   known  posters   accounts  for  the  total   number  of  exhibi-ons   at  the  Metropolitan   Museum  of  Art   featuring  the  work  of   female  ar-sts  versus   the  number  of  works   feature  female   Guerilla  Girls,   Do  women  have  to  be   subjects.   naked  to  get  into  the  Met.  Museum? 1989.  
  19. 19. Feminist  Art  Janine  Antoni  (b.1964)  •  Antoni’s  work  resembles   the  work  of  many   Minimalist  ar-sts.  •  Her  cubes  in  Gnaw  at  first   glance  appear  to  be   simple  cube  structures.  •  Further  inves-ga-on   reveals  the  cubes  are  in   fact  cubes  of  chocolate   and  lard.  •  The  ar-st  omen  works  in   organic  materials  for  a   Janine  Antoni.  Gnaw  (detail),  1992.  600  lb.  cube  of   mul--­‐dimensional  quality.   chocolate  gnawed  by  the  ar-st,  24  x  24  x  24 .     Museum  of  Modern  Art.  
  20. 20. Feminist  Art  •  Like  Rauschenberg,  Antoni  removes  material  from  her  cubes   gnawing  away  at  the  surface  to  achieve  the  final  product.   Robert  Rauschenberg,  Erased  de  Kooning,     Janine  Antoni.  Gnaw  (detail),  1992.   1953.  Traces  of  ink  and  crayon  on  paper,   600  lb.  cube  of  chocolate  gnawed  by   with  mount  and  hand-­‐leoered  ink  by   the  ar-st,  24  x  24  x  24 . Museum   Jasper  Johns,  25.5  x  21.8  x  0.5”. San   of  Modern  Art.   Francisco  Museum  of  Art.  
  21. 21. Feminist  Art  •  Amer  removing  the  material  from  Gnaw,   Antoni  repurposed  it  to  create  Lips5ck   Display.        •  Her  work  focuses  on  the  process  of  removal.  •  Her  work  brings  to  mind  issues  including   bulimia  which  strikes  many  young  women.   Janine  Antoni,  Lips5ck  Display,  detail,   1992.    Lips-ck  made  with  pigment,   beeswax,  and  chewed  lard  removed   from  Lard  Gnaw  and  heart-­‐shaped   packaging  tray  for  chocolates  made   Janine  Antoni.  Gnaw  (detail),  1992.  600  lb.   from  chew  chocolate  removed  from  cube  of  chocolate  gnawed  by  the  ar-st,  24  x   Chocolate  Gnaw.    Museum  of  Modern   24  x  24 . Museum  of  Modern  Art.   Art,  NY.  
  22. 22. Feminist  Art  Janine  Antoni  (b.1964)  •  Antoni  also  created   the  work  of  ar-st   Yves  Klein  in  her   piece,  Loving  Care.  •  Her  ac-ons  mimic   Klein’s  living  brushes   only  she-­‐the  ar-st,  is   the  ac-ve  agent  and   not  the  passive   model.   Janine  Antoni,  Loving  Care,  1992-­‐1994.  Performance,   US-­‐London.  
  23. 23. Loving  Care,  performance,  US-­‐ London,  1992-­‐1994     S-ll  from  Anthropometry  performance,  Kleins   1949  The  Monotone  Symphony  (a  single  20-­‐minute  sustained  chord  followed  by  a  20-­‐minute   silence)      
  24. 24. African-­‐American  Art  OBAC    •  One  of  the  first  projects  to   address  the  need  for  proper  role   models  for  young  blacks  was  the   Wall  of  Respect  in  Chicago.  •  Created  out  of  a  joint  effort,  this   wall  presented  the  youth  of   Southside  Chicago  with  notable   people  of  color  who  had  a   par-cular  impact  on  the   American  community.  •  Those  represented  include  Mar-n   Luther  King  Jr.,  Malcolm  X,  Aretha   Franklin,  and  Muhammad  Ali.  •  The  mission  was  to  not  only  ins-ll   confidence  in  the  youth  culture   but  to  promote  a  sense  of   community  and  pride  in  the   people  of  Southside  Chicago-­‐to   care  about  their  home.     OBAC  (Organiza-on  of  Black  American  Culture),   Wall  of  Respect,  1967.    Oil  on  brick,  30  x  60,   Southside  Chicago,  no  longer  extant.  
  25. 25. African-­‐American  Art  Faith  Ringgold  (b.  1930)  •  Ar-st  Faith  Ringgold  faced  the   challenge  of  nego-a-ng  both   gender  and  race.  •  Ac-ve  in  both  the  Women’s   Movement  and  Civil  Rights   Movement,  she  faced  similar   discrimina-on  from  men  of   color  and  Caucasian  women.    •  This  disenfranchisement  led  the   ar-st  to  seek  a  new  avenue  for   her  art  and  poli-cs.   –  She  began  traveling  to  college   campuses  and  founded  several   groups  for  young  students   Faith  Ringgold,  Who s  Afraid  of  Aunt   interested  in  both  causes.   Jemima?  1983.    Printed  and  pieced  fabric,   7 6  x  6 8 .    Private  Collec-on.  
  26. 26. African-­‐American  Art  Faith  Ringgold  (b.  1930)  •  Her  work  is  overtly  poli-cal  and   challenges  authority  that   perpetuates  discriminatory   prac-ces  and  stereotypes.  •  Her  work  challenges  the   division  between  fine  art  and   cram.  •  Inspired  by  folk  art,  she  is  best   known  for  her  story  quilts  that   recount  memories  of  African   Americans.   Faith  Ringgold,  Who s  Afraid  of  Aunt   Jemima?  1983.    Printed  and  pieced  fabric,   7 6  x  6 8 .    Private  Collec-on.  
  27. 27. African-­‐American  Art  Faith  Ringgold  (b.  1930)  •  Modeled  amer  Buddhist  Thangkas,   her  quilts  combine  storytelling,   wri-ng,  and  pain-ng.    •  Who’s  Afraid  of  Aunt  Jemima  is  an   obvious  play  on  the  Mammy   archetype.  •  Ringgold’s  Aunt  Jemima  is  the   story  of  a  family’s  matriarch  and   the  rela-ons  she  has.  •  She  creates  mul--­‐dimensional   characters  and  stories  for  her   quilts;  some  are  heroines,  some   are  not  but  the  overall   presenta-on  is  the  humanness  of   Faith  Ringgold,  Who s  Afraid  of  Aunt   Jemima?  1983.    Printed  and  pieced  fabric,   those  she  does  feature.     7 6  x  6 8 .    Private  Collec-on.  
  28. 28. African-­‐American  Art  Robert  Colescoo  (1925-­‐2009)  •  African  American  ar-st  Robert   Colescoo  employs  humor  to   inves-gate  and  decenter  the   modernist  aesthe-c.  •  His  work  brings  a  lighter  side  to   West  Coast  figura-on.  •  Using  a  cartoon-­‐like  style,   Colescoo  recreates  famous   pain-ngs  from  Western  art   replacing  the  figures  with  ones   that  are  exaggera-ngly   Africanized.  •  He  has  re-­‐interpreted  works  by   masters  including  Picasso,   Robert  Colescoo,  Les  Demoiselles   Ma-sse,  and  Delacroix  .     dAlabama  ves5das  1985  acrylic  on  canvas   96  x  92 .  Hanford  Yang,  NY.  
  29. 29. African-­‐American  Art  Robert  Colescoo  (1925-­‐2009)  •  Colescoo’s  pain-ngs  rewrite  history   from  the  viewpoint  of  those   con-nuously  wrioen  out.  •  Here  he  presents  George  Washington   Carver  Crossing  the  Delaware   acknowledging  the  imbalance  of   history  in  our  textbooks.  •  Colescoo  uses  his  images  to  open  a   dialogue  about  race  rela-ons  and  the   image  of  blacks  in  Western  art.   –  He  selects  his  images  carefully   focusing  on  those  pieces  that  have   had  a  tremendous  role  in  crea-ng   Robert  Colescoo,  George  Washington   images  and  exaggera-ng   Carver  Crossing  the  Delaware:  A  Page  from stereotypes  of  people  of  color.   an  American  History  Textbook,  1975.     Acrylic  on  canvas,  4 6  x  9 .Robert H. Orchard Collection, Ohio.  
  30. 30. African-­‐American  Art  David  Hammons  (b.  1943)  •  Hammons’  work  addresses  the  goals  of  inner   city  youth.  •  The  ar-st  appropriates  found  objects  to   decorate  telephone  poles  and  create   basketball  hoops.  •  The  work  is  commentary  on  the  need  for   proper  role  models  and  smarter,  achievable   goals  for  young  people  today.  •  Referencing  the  basketball  industry,   Hammons  notes  that  young  men  of  color  are   quite  omen  reduced  to  their  body,  their   poten-al  as  star  athletes  and  not  valued  for   much  else.    •  The  height  of  the  goals  is  a  metaphor  for  the     David  Hammons,  Higher   likelihood  that  such  goal  will  be  achieved.   Goals,  1982.    Poles,  basketball  •  Hammons  wants  the  higher  goals  to  be  a   hoops,  and  boole  caps,  height   proper  educa-on  and  not  the  hope  of  being   40.   Installation view, discovered  or  valued  for  athle-c  skill  only.   Brooklyn, NY.  
  31. 31. Conceptualism  Adrian  Piper  (b.  1948)  •  Piper’s  Self-­‐Portrait  adapts  the  feminist   mooo,  the  personal  is  poli-cal,  and  adds  the   component  of  race.  •  Piper  created  several  series  that  inves-gate   how  race  plays  a  factor  in  how  people  react   and  behave  toward  one  another.  •  As  a  light-­‐skinned  woman  of  color,  she   nego-ates  the  white  and  black  communi-es   to  study  how  ideas  of  race  are  made  and  how   that  affects  iden-ty  poli-cs.  •  Many  of  her  pieces,  like  Self-­‐Portrait,   document  the  discrimina-on  she  experienced   as  a  young  woman  of  color.  •  She  uses  language  in  narra-ve  format  to   Adrian  Piper,  Poli5cal  Self-­‐ reveal  how  racism  figures  into  dominant   Portrait  #2  (Race),  1978.     agtudes  and  the  building  of  community.   Photostat,  24  x  16 .     Collec-on  Richard  Sandor.