L i s a L u k i a n o v a
Feminist Art was born in the late 60s, along with protests against the Vietnam War and the movement for the rights of black people and LGBT communities. Women artists were discriminated against on the basis of gender at the time. They did not receive the same recognition as their male colleagues, they were often denied to exhibit but they did not give up.
Feminist artists sought to eliminate double standards in the sexual area and gender stereotypes as well as to fight for the right of women to control their own bodies (contraception and termination of unwanted pregnancy). In 1980, Lucy Lippard claimed that feminist art is „not a style or movement, but a system of values, a revolutionary strategy, a way of life. This quote confirms that feminist art has affected all aspects of life.
American women were determined to make their voices louder than the noise of discontent, to achieve equality in the profession and freedom of action in relation to their own bodies. Art was the instrument that was used to convey their vision. Feminist art fulfilled this mission by challenging traditional notions of the role of women.
Eunice Golden (1927)
The American Eunice Golden became one of the founders of feminist art, being famous in the 50s of last century for her frank images of nude nature. The principal feature of her artwork was that her models were men, thus the artist expressed her protest against the objectification of the female body. Her most famous paintings are Landscape 160 and Nothing But Nudes. They show the defenseless body of a man.
Kusama Yayoi (1929)
Kusama Yayoi has gained fame in the 1960s after moving to New York . Her non-traditional avant-garde vision of painting, installation and performance was immediately highlighted by critics. Kusama is considered one of the artists of the first feminist wave.
In 1962, Kusama Yayoi presents the work „Accumulation N 2“ – a sofa upholstered with soft extensions of fabric. Speeches covering the objects – as a parody of male „phallic“ power. Around the same time, Kusama began to create installations and conduct performances, Infinity Mirror Room – Phalli’s Field – all her works are concentrated around the human body. Among the most prominent compositions of that time was the performance of the Grand Orgy To Awaken The Dead in 1969, which was performed with many naked people. In 2014 Kusama was named the most valuable female artist of that time. Her work White No. 28 at Christie’s auction sold for $7 million.
Judy Chicago (1939)
Judy Chicago is an American feminist, artist, educator and writer. She is known for her large installations that focus on the role of women in history and culture. In the 1970s, Judith invented the term „feminist art“ and founded the first feminist art program in the United States.
Her most popular work is the installation „Dinner Party“. The work takes the form of a triangular banquet table for 39 people, places behind it are designed for great women of Western civilization. „The Dinner Party” was first shown to the public at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco in 1979 and attracted more than 100,000 visitors in three months. Since 2007, it has been on permanent display at the Brooklyn Museum.
Lynda Benglis (1941)
Lynda Benglis was one of the last brightest representatives of the wave of the 70s. Her fame was earned by her works made of latex, wax and polyurethane, but her most striking work was a series of photographs, one of which the artist poses nude with a dildo. This work was a response to the artistic system of the time, controlled by men. The photograph was published in the very influential contemporary art magazine Artforum and brought Benglis the title of an icon of art feminism.At the request to summarize her artistic aspirations in the 1960s Lynda Benglis replied: „I was not detached from painting, but tried to rethink what it was”.
French artist Orlan gained popularity in the 90’s with a series of works on plastic surgery. She is known as a pioneer of carnal art, a form of self-portraiture that utilizes body modification to distort one’s appearance. She adopted the pseudonym „ORLAN“ in 1971.
Using her body as a material for creativity, she not only expanded the possibilities of visual art, but also drew attention to questionable standards of beauty imposed on women by patriarchal society. In the late 90’s, Orlan underwent several plastic surgeries, changing her body and face. This performance was a demonstration of how meaningless unnatural interference with the human body is.
With the recent U.S. presidential election, a true art feminism can be expected to reach a new level. Hundreds of thousands of women around the world took part in women’s marches to protest against Donald Trump. Among the protesters were many Hollywood stars: Madonna, Katy Perry, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Julianne Moore. Numerous feminist exhibitions on anti-presidential themes and women’s rights are now taking place around the world.
And don’t forget to subscribe