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Updated January 11, 2021

History of Feminist Art

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History of Feminist Art essay
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Art is frequently a vehicle for social change. It can offer voice to the politically or socially disappointed. A song, film or novel can stimulate feelings in the individuals who experience it, motivating them to rally for change in which artists transform their ideas into sophisticated and challenging works of art.

Feminism is a social development and belief system that encounters for the political, financial and social rights for women, its concept meets with those of women’s rights. Feminism is mainly targeted towards women’s liberation, however feminism requests gender equality. Its theory is the addition of feminism into theoretical discourse with aims of understanding the nature of gender inequality. Themes that are incorporated in Feminism include art history and contemporary art, discrimination and oppression.

There were artists who declined to pass by the straight strategies and made a development called ‘conceptual Art’. This movement concentrated on the work of art as opposed to the procedure or rehearsed used to make it. Calculated art has been an impetus for artists to make associations among art and society. Artist who communicates in the form of visual language is Marcel Duchamp to which he created a controversial art piece which stirred up society and created shock and confusion. His work consisted of a ready-made porcelain urinal which he flipped and signed R.Mutt.

The reason for this is that he believed that an idea of an artwork should be valued and that the idea is what shapes the vision. And by placing it in a gallery the audience had the ability to admire the fine art and the unusual aspect of ready-made object in the gallery, he severed the traditional idea in which artists must be skilled or talented which gave a platform for younger artists to express themselves. Artists have made fine arts that can impact and test the assessments and estimations of society. Through this development, different developments were made, for example, Feminist art.

Feminist art is a form of post-modern art which emerged as part of the women’s liberation movement in Britain and America during the late 1960s. It seeks to test the power of men in art and society, its purpose was to gain recognition and equality for women artists, and to issue assumptions regarding womanhood and to change cultural attitudes and transform labels. Art in this sense is communication; it permits individuals from various societies and unique occasions to speak with one another by means of pictures, sounds and stories in which they transform ideas into sophisticated and challenging works of art.

Feminist artists looked to expand opportunities and roles which were available to them within the American art system and to redefine the history of art from a more woman-friendly perspective. In the 1960s and 1970s, feminist artists used a wide variety of mediums which consist of performance art, painting, which were previously considered as “women’s work” their pieces aimed at ending sexism and revealing femininity to be a cover-up accepted by women to conform to societal expectations. The art itself began as a result of anti-war protests and civil rights movements. The inspiration behind the feminist art movement was the suffrage women faced during the 1920s.

The first feminist inquiry in art history began in 1971 with Linda Nochlin’s article, “Why Are There No Great Women Artists” to which she answered “Art is not a free autonomous activity of a super-endowed individual, “influenced” by precious artists and more vaguely and superficially by “special forces”, but rather occurs in a social situation, is an essential element of social structure, and is mediated and determined by specific and definable social institutions, be they art academies, systems of patronage, mythologies of the divine and artist as he-man and social outcast”

-Linda Nochin. Her article reveals a more complex critique of culture and art through the investigation of the production and evaluation of feminist art and feminism.

Feminist artists such as Marina Abramovic and Barbara Kruger paved the way for feminist artists in todays society. Their art pieces hold value and importance and had an immense impact on the world through the expression of individuality. Through their pieces they have transformed ideas into sophisticated and challenging works of art.

Marina Abramovic is a Serbian-American artist she was born on November 30, 1946 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Abramovic was part of the Performance and Feminist art movement. Her work consists of feminist, endurance and body art. In 1965 she registered at the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade to study painting. She then became interested in the possibilities of performance art more so the ability to use her body as a place of artistic exploration. After completing postgraduate studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Croatia, in 1972, where she envisioned a series of odd performance pieces that involved her body as both subject and medium her performance art consists of putting herself in severe danger and by performing long and harmful routines which result in her getting injured either burnt or cut.

The reason behind what she does is that she believes and views her art almost as a religious and sacrificial rite which she performs alone for an audience. The audience is able to view the physical trials she endures from the performances which consist of themes such as endurance, trust, cleansing and departure.

Her work is far from the traditional media of painting and sculpture yet the art is on herself i.e.: her body.

She considers her body as more than just a simple canvas and that it’s “point of departure for any spiritual development”. Amid 1976 and 1988 she worked with Ulay, a German-born artist. During this time they created and worked on performances which often exploited their dualism to explore ideas such as nature and culture, male and female and the division between the mind and body. She refers herself as “the grandmother of performance art”. Her main focus when creating some of the art is to challenge the limits of the body. Abramovic doesn’t view her own artwork through the feminist art lens rather her confrontations with the physical self and prime role given to the female anatomy which have helped form the direction of that discipline.

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History of Feminist Art. (2021, Jan 11). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/history-of-feminist-art/

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