What is Feminist Art?
Feminist art production was established in the late 1960s during the second liberation of feminism in the United States and England. This was brought about by a series of feminism activism. The first liberation movement of feminism started in the middle of the 19th century with women suffrage movements and progressed until women were granted the right to vote in 1920. In the early 20th century, there was no production of feminist art since it was not allowed but as people advocated for change, feminism art emerged in the 1960s and 1970s.
During this era feminist artists dealt with the issue of unequal representation in established galleries, which largely favoured male artists. They formed their own art organizations to address their issues. Activism by the groups yielded positive results and eventually more female artists were featured in galleries and art museums. Feminist artists from California and Los Angeles addressed the issue of inequality by establishing art spaces that were exclusively feminist. Established female art critics like Linda Nochlin from America, Griselda Pollock and Rozsika Parker from England also played an important role in highlighting the fact that female artists had been sidelined by western art.
Feminist Art in the 1980s
Feminist artists in the 1980s mostly addressed the challenge of racial discrimination and sexism in the world of art. After it was established that reputable galleries still favoured male artists, a feminist art group called Guerrilla Girls was founded in 1985. They used performances and advertising by use of posters, artwork and protests to speak against sexism and racism in art. Through their work, they sought to eradicate the mentality that women were merely objects in art production. They protested the fact that most galleries featured nude female art pieces done by male artists yet they did not give exhibition space to women artists.
Styles and Concepts
Feminist artists combine concepts borrowed from a variety of movements. They employed conceptual art, video art and body art to press for equality and depict the experiences of women. They used performances to get into contact with their audiences and enhance the delivery of their message.
Video art was particularly helpful in achieving mass outreach. Materials that were associated with women such as textiles were also used by feminist artists and feminine crafts such as cooking, piercing, sewing, hooking, appliquéing and cutting. These things were portrayed as art. Feminist art employed alternative spaces and media as well as concepts that were not commonly used by male artists to establish the presence of female artists in the world of art.
Feminist Art Today
Modern day feminist art still addresses the issues faced by female artists. Renowned female artists like Jenifer Linton and Kara Walker use their works to address equality and sexism. Artwork is also used to address the individual concerns of feminist artists. An example is the use of self photography by artist Cindy Sherman to address stereotypes and the male gaze in art culture and cinemas. In 2008, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art honored the art movement by organizing a groundbreaking exhibition for Feminist artists from across the world.
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