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Feminism and contemporary art

Last Updated: 20-Jul-2015

This guide is designed to provide an introduction to the literature of feminism as it interesects with contemporary art.  It also presents a selection of key primary source holdings relating to the topic in the Stanford University Libraries.

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This guide was created by Kyle Stephan, a Ph.D. candidate in art history in the Department of Art & Art History.

image ©1971 Carolee Schneemann

Introductory texts

London ; New York, NY : Phaidon, 2001.
Art & Architecture Library » Stacks » N72 .F45 A78 2001 F
Part of the Phaidon Press “Themes and Movements” series, Art and Feminism presents an overview of artworks and documents that lie at the intersection of contemporary art and feminism. Limiting its scope to art and texts that made a critical impact in Britain and the United States between 1960 and 2000, the book contains three primary sections: a survey by Stanford TAPS Professor Peggy Phelan, an annotated, full color works section, and a portfolio of primary source texts that complement the artworks. Phelan’s introduction to the field is substantial, detailing the “well-rehearsed plot” of the feminist art movement while provocatively encouraging a “deeper awakening” to the under-explored dimensions of its history. Divided into broad chronological themes such as “Personalizing the Political” and “Identity Crisis,” the works section instigates such new interpretations, dialogues, and debates in its juxtaposition of prominent and lesser known artists working in diverse media. The concluding documents section supplements the annotated artworks with a wide range of influential feminist writings by philosophers, art critics, historians, and artists since mid-century. From Simone De Beauvoir’s The Second Sex and Eva Hesse’s “Artist Statement” to Eva Cockcroft’s “Women in the Community Mural Movement” and Donna Haraway’s “Cyborg Manifesto,” these (mostly excerpted) texts provide the reader with a bibliographic reference of great breadth.
London ; New York : Merrell ; Brooklyn, NY : Brooklyn Museum, 2007.
Art & Architecture Library » See circulation desk for access » N8354 .G56 2007
Global Feminisms: New Directions in Contemporary Art is the glossy, large-format catalog that accompanied inaugural exhibition at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, the first institutional center of its kind. Departing from the revolutionary activist art of the 1970s and the theoretically driven propositions of the 1980s, the "Global Feminisms" exhibition focused on international feminist art produced since 1990, offering a critical reexamination of feminist art from the historical moment when transnational, multicultural feminism concerned with the intersection of race, class, gender, sexuality, and nation came to dominate feminist production. Challenging the universality of Western feminism, the exhibition presented over eighty contemporary artists from Africa, Asia, Australia, Central and South America, Europe, the Middle East, and North America who were raising issues of gender or feminism in their work. Introductory essays by the exhibition’s intergenerational curatorial team Linda Nochlin and Maura Reilly provide theoretical and historical frameworks for the exhibition, while a subsequent selection of essays by esteemed international critics and curators explore the cultural differences embodied in feminist art from different geographical regions. A generous full-color plate section, artist biographies, and a bibliography of feminist art arranged geographically round out the volume.


The Power of Feminist Art brings together well-known scholars and artists to assess the transformative decade of the 1970s and the immense impact of the Feminist Art Movement in the United States. The contributors view feminist art as a challenge not only to the patriarchal institutional practices of the art world but also to the very discourses of modernism that began to unravel in the 1970s. In this book, feminism becomes a key means of expressing the burgeoning postmodern sensibilities of the end of the twentieth century. The work also explores the impact of feminism on art in the 1980s, and a bibliography points the way to additional avenues of study.
Los Angeles : Museum of Contemporary Art ; Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, c2007.
Art & Architecture Library » Stacks » N72 .F45 W33 2007
"WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution" is most comprehensive survey exhibition of early feminist art to date. Chronicling the impact of feminism on global artistic practices between 1965 and 1980, this landmark exhibition organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles presented the artwork of 119 female artists from twenty-one countries to boldly assert that “feminism’s impact on art of the 1970’s constitutes the most influential international ‘movement’ of any during the postwar period….” This accompanying exhibition catalog contains nearly 200 full-color plates, artist biographies with bibliographic and exhibition histories, and a collection of ten essays by leading scholars and critics (including Stanford professors Peggy Phelan and Richard Meyer) which expand the exhibition’s scope by exploring topics such as the global dimensions of feminist performance art, women’s art during the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, and the use of phallic imagery by feminist artists. A goldmine for art historians is the selected chronology of all-women group exhibitions organized between 1943 and 1983, which lists the curators and participating artists. While scholars in the field might debate the exclusion of individual artists from this prestigious exhibition, WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution is a phenomenal entry point for understanding the diversity and impact of 1970s feminism on global artistic practices.

Focused studies

Berkeley : University of California Press, c2002.
Green Library » HAS California History (Lane Room) (non-circulating) » N8354 .A73 2002
This anthology published in conjunction with the exhibition "Art/Women/California: Parallels and Intersections" at the San Jose Museum of Art surveys art produced by women in post-World War II California. Authored by many prominent California-based art historians including Stanford Professor Pamela M. Lee, its twenty essays interrogate the impact of postwar socio-political and economic developments in California on women artists as well as the transformative effect of their art on national and global culture. While not an anthology of writings on feminist art per se, the publication pinpoints California as an epicenter of feminist activity in the 1960s and 1970s and demonstrates how the productively unresolved questions of the movement impacted generations of women artists and art publics. As its title suggests, the anthology strategically refuses a chronological approach, favoring the presentation of parallel histories of women artists working in diverse racial and ethnic communities and of intersecting formal concerns and themes in the work of female artists in California. Its focus on communities and media marginalized within the discipline of art history provides an excellent starting point for research. Stanford University Special Collections possesses the personal archives of two artists featured in the publication: Japanese-American artist and educator Ruth Asawa and Academy Award nominated filmmaker Lourdes Portillo.
Durham : Duke University Press, 2007.
Green Library » Bender Room (non-circulating) » NX512.3 .M4 P47 2007
Laura E. Pérez’s richly illustrated Chicana Art: The Politics of Spiritual and Aesthetic Altarities is the first book-length study of Chicana art, filling a significant gap in scholarship on contemporary feminist art. Surveying the work of forty artists working across the media of photography, textiles, printmaking, altars, comics, murals, performance, film, and digital art, Pérez argues for the centrality of an unorthodox and culturally hybrid spirituality to Chicana art since the 1960s. Thematic chapters such “Body, Dress,” “Altar, Altar,” and “Tierra, Land” explore the diverse ways that Chicana artists have reinterpreted spiritual beliefs, practices, and images to resist racism, patriarchy, and homophobia and to construct spaces of empowerment. Particular attention is paid to hybrid visual forms that engage non-Western traditions, including altar-like installations, multimedia projects referencing indigenous weaving and needlework techniques, ritual-like performances, ex-voto “retablo” style paintings, and feminist comic books alluding to Aztec mythology. Throughout the study, Pérez explores the historical exclusion of both spirituality and Chicana art from secular Eurocentric aesthetic discourses, and she concludes her book with a meditation on the role of socially engaged artists in contemporary society. For an informative overview of the emergence of Chicana feminism from within the Chicano civil rights and art movements, see Chicana Power!: Contested Histories of Feminism in the Chicano Movement.
New York : Neuberger Museum of Art ; Munich ; New York : DelMonico Books/Prestel, c2011.
Art & Architecture Library » Stacks » N8354 .D43 2011
The Deconstructive Impulse: Women Artists Reconfigure the Signs of Power, 1973-1991 contemplates the feminist contribution to “deconstructive art” of the 1970s and 1980s. Countering the notion that the postmodern critique of representation was gender blind, this exhibition catalog elaborates how female artists pioneered strategies of appropriation, quotation, simulation, repetition, and pastiche to reveal and critique mechanisms of power embedded in media representations and institutional practices. Introductory surveys by curators Nancy Princenthal and Helaine Posner precede commissioned texts by art historians Tom McDonough, Griselda Pollock, and Kristine Stiles on topics such as the significance of critical theory and psychoanalysis to postmodern art, domesticity as subject matter, and the operations of visual pleasure and seduction in deconstructive analysis. The second half of the volume contains full-page color reproductions and bibliographies of each of the twenty-two artists in the exhibition, which include Jenny Holzer, Louise Lawler, Adrian Piper, Martha Rosler, Cindy Sherman, and Lorna Simpson. For further reading on the sexual politics of postmodern art, see Craig Owens’ influential essays in Beyond Recognition: Representation, Power, and Culture and the catalog for the New Museum’s groundbreaking exhibition, "Difference: On Representation and Sexuality" (also listed under Primary Sources in this guide).
New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, c1999.
Art & Architecture Library » Stacks » NA2543 .F45 D47 1999
Design and Feminism: Re-visioning Spaces, Places, and Everyday Things highlights feminist perspectives on design by architects, urban planners, engineers, educators, curators, and industrial, product, and graphic designers. Editor Joan Rothschild opens the volume with a swift but informative overview of foundational scholarship on topics largely neglected by art history and gender studies: feminism and architecture, women in architectural and design professions, feminist critiques of urban planning and housing, theoretical writing on architecture and gender, feminist studies of geography and space, and the history of women as designers and consumers of industrial, product, and graphic design. Successive essays limit their focus to the four themes of urban and suburban spaces, housing and neighborhoods, product design, and feminist approaches to design process and pedagogy. Black-and-white reproductions of buildings, landscapes, architectural plans, posters, products, logos, and other designed environments and products accompany each essay. While Rothschild’s anthology restricts its scope to feminist inquiry in the United States and Great Britain, Madhavi Desai’s volume on the politics of gender and built forms in India and South Asia, Women and the Built Environment, provides an entry point for thinking about feminism and design from a non-Western perspective.
Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, c2009.
Art & Architecture Library » Stacks » NX652 .M64 L57 2009
Feminist Art and the Maternal examines the subject of feminist motherhood in contemporary visual art and culture. Feminist motherhood has been a neglected subject within both mainstream feminist and contemporary art discourses. While feminism has often cast aside issues of feminist motherhood to avoid biological essentialism, art history has placed motherhood in conflict with notions of avant-garde cultural production. Confronting these lingering maternal taboos, this study analyzes representations of motherhood by feminist “artist-mothers” to demonstrate how artists have used lived maternal experience as a basis for progressive contemporary art that challenges patriarchal and heteronormative constructions of gender and mothering. Examples include works produced in a diverse range of media over the past forty years, including Mary Kelly’s process-based Post-Partum Document, Mierle Laderman Ukeles’s Maintenance Art projects, works by the collective MAMA (Mother Artists Making Art), Renée Cox’s Yo Mama portrait series, Njozi Onwurah’s film The Body Beautiful, and multimedia collaborations by Civia Rosenberg and May Stevens that explore maternal mourning after the death of a child. While the volume engages little with the growing body of feminist literature on the maternal outside of art and visual culture, it persuasively blends first-person narrative and feminist theories of representation to consider how artists’ embodied explorations of feminist motherhood are redefining female subjectivity and mothering in Western culture.
New York ; London : Routledge, 2006.
Art & Architecture Library » Stacks » N72 .F45 B57 2006
Jewish Identities in American Feminist Art: Ghosts of Ethnicity investigates the unacknowledged role of Jewish identity in contemporary feminist art. Beginning with “Clement Greenberg’s Modernist Shadow,” Bloom explores how the Jewish identity of leading art critics of the 1940s and 1950s contributed to a discourse on modern art characterized by the suppression of ethnic and national particularism and the defense the universal aesthetic values. Subsequent chapters on artists Eleanor Antin, Judy Chicago, Martha Rosler, and Mierle Laderman Ukeles divulge how prominent Jewish feminist artists of the 1970s both sustained and challenged this legacy of ethnic assimilation in their explorations of female identity and experience. Lastly, Bloom discusses Jewish feminist artists of the 1980s and 1990s, arguing that their work reveals a more pronounced exploration of Jewish identity while complicating notions of ethnicity and race. Illuminating the dynamics of assimilation and ethnic expression across three generations of Jewish artists and intellectuals, Bloom contributes a feminist perspective to the recent wave of publications on Jewish identity and American visual culture. For key texts in this field, see the catalog for Norman L. Kleeblatt’s landmark exhibition "Too Jewish?: Challenging Traditional Identities" and Catherine Soussloff’s anthology Jewish Identity in Modern Art History.
New York : Rizzoli ; London : Troika, 2000.
Green Library » Bender Room (non-circulating) » N8217 .H67 H36 2000
Lesbian Art in America is the first and only survey of contemporary lesbian art in the United States. Authored by artist Harmony Hammond, a founding member of the feminist journal Heresies and the all-woman A.I.R. Gallery, this glossy, large-format publication examines the production of self-identified lesbian artists in relation to gay and women’s liberation, lesbian feminism, mainstream art, feminist art, ethnic-based art movements, queer activism and theory, and media appropriations of lesbian imagery. While acknowledging the limitations of chronology, the book usefully approaches its topic by decade, tracing the changing notions of lesbian identity and art from the development of lesbian feminism in the 1970s through the culture wars and postmodern feminism of the 1980s to the emergence of queer culture and activism in the 1990s. Each chapter contains an essay on the political, social, and artistic debates of the decade interspersed with lavishly illustrated artist profiles. Regretfully, the publisher included no bibliography; however, Hammond’s ample endnote citations unquestionably serve as the most comprehensive listing of primary and secondary sources on lesbian art available to date.
Los Angeles, CA : UCLA at the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center in association with University of California Press, Berkeley, 1996.
Art & Architecture Library » Stacks » NK4605.5.U63 C482 1996A
Although decried as pornography by politicians, kitsch by modernist art historians, and essentialism by its feminist detractors, Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party remains an iconic expression of 1970s feminist art. In this generously illustrated volume, a catalog for an exhibition organized by UCLA’s Hammer Museum, art historian and curator Amelia Jones embraces the installation’s embattled legacy, examining its various controversies as symptoms of broader cultural and theoretical debates ignited by second-wave feminism. Avoiding a monographic approach, the essays written by a younger generation of feminist scholars situate The Dinner Party within the art historical context of minimalism, the Southern California "finish fetish" movement, and early feminist art production while exploring how dominant feminist discourses of the period excluded issues of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and class in their attempt to reclaim and represent female identity and experience. For a detailed exploration of the iconography, themes, and production history of The Dinner Party, see one of the numerous books authored by Judy Chicago, including The Dinner Party: A Symbol of Our Heritage (1979) and The Dinner Party (1996).


Malden, Mass. : Blackwell, 2001.
Green Library » Stacks » NX512.3 .A35 B625 2001
Black Feminist Cultural Criticism compiles the most influential Black feminist cultural criticism and theory of the past thirty years. Featuring essays by leading feminist thinkers such as Barbara Christian, Angela Davis, Kelly Jones, Audre Lorde, Tricia Rose, and Barbara Smith, it traces debates on the intersectionality of race, class, and sex across a wide range of black cultural production. The volume is organized by artistic genre with sections on literature and the foundational texts of black feminist literary criticism, film and television, visual art, music and spoken word, and material culture. Each section includes an introduction as well as supplementary readings and media resources (e.g., video interviews, documentary films) that complement the essays. Numerous classic essays on visual art and film are reproduced in the anthology, including Freida High W. Tesfagiorgis “In Search of a Discourse and Critique/s That Center the Art of Black Women Artists” and C.A. Griffith’s “Below the Line: (Re) Calibrating the Filmic Gaze.” However, it is the volume’s concentration on material culture--quilt traditions, handicrafts, recipes and food, and decorative objects--as central to black women’s artistry and activism that provides the most significant intervention into current debates in art history and feminist visual culture studies. For a feminist analysis on the importance of black cultural criticism and the racial politics of the art world, see the influential Art on My Mind: Visual Politics by bell hooks.

Source texts

London ; New York : Routledge, 2003.
SAL3 (off-campus storage) » Stacks » NX180 .F4 F46 2003
The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader is the most comprehensive introduction to the feminist visual culture studies currently available. This massive volume compiles excerpts from canonical texts and newer theoretical essays to demonstrate the evolution and methodological breadth of the field since the 1970s. In her introduction, editor Amelia Jones surveys disciplinary distinctions between art history, cultural studies, and visual culture studies and argues that feminism’s political interrogation of gender in visual imagery was integral to the establishment and growth of the study of visual culture. Organized in conventional anthology format, texts are arranged in thematic sections with brief introductions, eight to ten essays, and bibliographic references. The first section “Provocations” presents short polemical essays on the intersection of gender with race, ethnicity, class, nation, and sexual orientation commissioned for the anthology. Classic texts by feminist luminaries such as Mary Ann Doane, N. Katherine Hayles, bell hooks, Trinh T. Minh-ha, and Monique Wittig follow in chapters on “Representation,” “Difference,” “Discipline/Strategies,” “Mass Culture/Media Intervention,” “Body,” and “Technology.” Notable is the anthology’s inclusion of feminist literature on the politics of new technologies, from digital media and virtual reality to scientific imaging of the body in the fields of biotechnology and genetics.
Oxford, UK ; Malden, Mass. : Blackwell Publishers, 2001.
Art & Architecture Library » Stacks » N72 .F45 F442 2001
This anthology of ninety-nine texts by feminist artists and critics is an invaluable collection of source documents as well as a model of feminist historiography. Eschewing canonical narratives and binary oppositions, it presents three decades of writings from North America, Europe, and Australia as diverse interventions into nine feminist debates in art history. Each of the nine chapters on topics such as “Activism and Institutions” and “Sexuality/Body/Image” opens with an introductory summary and a list of essential readings and then presents texts chronologically, exploring how ideas within the field developed over time. The anthology’s focus on less familiar texts by canonical writers, out-of-print articles, and more ephemeral documents such as meeting minutes, pamphlets, and collective statements is a strength of the volume, as are the extensive bibliographies at the end of the book which include special journal issues and web sources on feminism and art history.
Ann Arbor, Mich. : UMI Research Press, c1988.
Art & Architecture Library » Stacks » N72.F45 F445 1988
Feminist Art Criticism: An Anthology is a retrospective anthology that aspired to review and reassess feminist art criticism between 1972 and 1988, its date of publication. Since the majority of feminist art criticism had been published in periodicals and pamphlets, this volume published work not widely disseminated or available to scholars. It also sought to reevaluate the relationship of 1970s feminist criticism to theory, presenting a chronological selection of essays that emphasized the progressive development of feminist art discourse rather than the oft-narrated rupture between “essentialist” criticism of the 1970s and “deconstructive” criticism of the 1980s. Diverse topics such as sexuality and eroticism, holistic spirituality, representation in art, women’s cinema and feminist film theory, language and the emergence of poststructuralist critique, the relationship of theory to artistic practice, race and ethnicity, and post-feminism are covered in the essays. The volume’s contemporary value lies in its historiographic assessment of feminist art criticism from the vantage of the late Reagan years and the presence of lesser-known articles on erotic imagery and black feminist performance art. For an annotated bibliography on feminist art criticism with over 1,000 entries on reference publications, books, exhibition catalogs, and articles, see editor Cassandra Langer’s Feminist Art Criticism: An Annotated Bibliography.
London : Pandora Press ; New York, NY : Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1987.
Art & Architecture Library » Stacks » N72.F45 F73 1987
Framing Feminism: Art and the Women’s Movement, 1970-85 is an anthology of exhibition reviews, letters, documents, essays, and articles that shaped the cultural politics of the feminist movement in Great Britain. A virtual who’s who of the British scene, this invaluable collection features germinal texts by now-prominent artists and scholars such as Rosalind Coward, Catherine Elwes, Mary Kelly, Laura Mulvey, Rozsika Parker, Griselda Pollack, Sally Potter, and Lisa Tichner. Focusing on the socio-political context of the feminist art movement rather than on the work of individual artists, it opens with substantial essays on the development of the feminist art movement in the UK between 1970 and 1985 and on the relationship of feminism and modernism. Historical documents from British feminist publications (Spare Rib, Feminist Art News) as well as academic and mainstream presses (Screen, The Times) comprise subsequent chapters which are arranged by theme: images and signs, institutions, exhibitions, and strategies of feminism. Wisely, the editors opted to reproduce all source documents with high quality facsimile, a decision that offers the researcher a valuable understanding of the original presentation and context of each text.
Durham [N.C.] : Duke University Press, 2000.
Art & Architecture Library » Stacks » N6512 .M378 2000
This anthology features highlights from M/E/A/N/I/N/G (1986-1996), an independent art journal that published artists’ writings on issues neglected by the postmodern art criticism of mainstream and academic presses. Founded by feminist painter Mira Schor and Women Artists’ Newsletter editor Susan Bee when Schor’s tract “Appropriated Sexuality” was rejected by commercial art publications, this East Coast journal provided an important forum for artists to critique art world trends and to publish theory generated through the practice of painting and other studio arts. Although not all of its contributors were female or explicitly feminist, the journal was heir to feminist periodicals of the 1970s in its critique of the institutional practices of the art world and in its attention to the professional struggles of female artists. This sizable volume, with an excellent introduction by M/E/A/N/I/N/G contributor Johanna Drucker, underscores the feminist orientation of the journal and its theoretical assessment of feminism’s relationship to postmodernism. The two opening sections, “Feminism and Art” and “Meaning and Representation,” include significant writings on debates within feminism. Subsequent sections feature feminist perspectives in personal essays, artist profiles, and forums on racism, aging, and motherhood in the art world. Biographies of contributors, which include Nancy Grossman, Elizabeth Murray, Yvonne Rainer, Nancy Spero, and Martha Wilson, and an appendix listing the contents of each issue round out the volume.
Manchester ; New York : Manchester University Press ; New York : Distributed exclusively in the USA and Canada by St. Martin's Press, c1995.
Art & Architecture Library » Stacks » N72.F45 N45 1995
Citing Rozsika Parker and Griselda Pollock in Framing Feminism: Art and the Women's Movement, 1970-85 (listed above) as a point of departure, Katy Deepwell’s anthology explores developments in feminist art criticism and practice that emerged between the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s. Essays penned by academics, critics, and artists from the UK, the US, Ireland, and Canada explore five themes of the period: the role of critical theory in feminism, curatorship and the art world, censorship and pornography, engagement with psychoanalysis, and the use of textiles in contemporary art. The contributors assess the transformative impact of French feminism, deconstruction, theories of the subject, and interdisciplinary research models on feminist criticism and practice, and foreground the institutional obstacles faced by women in the art world and the academy in the early 1990s. While the influence of critical theory has been explored amply in other volumes on feminist art criticism, this anthology’s attention to curatorial practice, exhibition strategies, censorship and pornography, and contemporary craft theory and practice distinguish it from others in the genre. After the publication of this anthology in 1995, editor Deepwell founded n. paradoxa, an international feminist journal of contemporary art still in publication.
Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, 1998.
Green Library » Bender Room (non-circulating) » NX180 .F4 T36 1998
Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age is a hefty anthology of writings by academics, artists, curators, and activists from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds that engage feminist issues relevant to an age of transnational capital and global migration. Editor Ella Shohat articulates a framework of “relational feminism,” which refuses hierarchical classifications of gender, race, class, sexuality, and nation in favor of dialogic exploration of the “tensions and overlappings” within and between these categories of identity. Consequently, the volume foregoes thematic sections to present a collection of essays, dialogues, visual collage, poems, photomontage, and performance pieces with many points of entry. Not all of the articles are specifically on art or aesthetics; some, for example, might explore the importation of hair for wigs for African-American women or the gendered rhetoric of human rights discourse. However, working with artist and theorist Coco Fusco, Shohat illustrated each text with feminist art in dialogue with the historical, political, and cultural issues raised by its contributor. This impressive research and curatorial effort, which showcases existing works of lesser known artists as well as art created or reworked specifically for the publication, adds immense art historical value to this thorough resource on contemporary multicultural feminism.

Primary sources

Edited by Bay Area art historian Moira Roth, The Amazing Decade: Women and Performance Art in America, 1970-1980 is the first art historical survey of feminist performance art of the 1970s. Emerging from an exhibition at the Women’s Caucus for Art held in New Orleans in 1980, this publication offers valuable insight to the historiographer interested in understanding how artists and historians interpreted the history of feminist performance at the close of the transformative 1970s. The book includes an introductory history of the project by curator Mary Jane Jacob, an essay by Roth exploring the autobiographical, ritualistic, and political aspects of feminist performance, a postwar chronology documenting parallel events in US history, women’s history and women’s performance history, and thirty-eight illustrated essays on feminist artists and art collectives considered by the authors to be the most significant performers of the 1970s. Throughout the volume, the reader encounters references to conferences, exhibitions, publications, and artists that have faded from histories of feminist performance and suggest rich possibilities for further research in the field. For additional period documentation and criticism of feminist performance art, see High Performance, a quarterly publication that often featured feminist performance artists such as Marina Abramovic, Nancy Buchanan, Suzanne Lacy, Rachel Rosenthal, and Barbara Smith.
Art and Sexual Politics primarily consists of essays that appeared in the January 1971 special issue of Artnews on women’s liberation, women artists, and art history. Its centerpiece is Linda Nochlin’s landmark article “Why Are There No Great Women Artists?” which argued that there is a “hidden ‘he’” embedded in the value systems of modern art institutions and the idea of artistic genius. Although Nochlin’s text became an instant feminist classic, it was the subject of considerable critical debate at the time of publication. This volume presents Nochlin’s article alongside responses by artists Elaine de Kooning and Rosalyn Drexler (in conversation), Bridget Riley, Louise Nevelson, Eleanor Antin, Suzi Gablik, Sylvia Stone, Marjorie Strider, Lynda Benglis, and Rosemarie Castoro. Black and white reproductions of art produced by women between 1947 and 1971 as well as field reports on art world and university discrimination contextualize this polyvocal dialogue. Nochlin, one of the first scholars to offer college courses on women in art history, curated with Anne Sutherland Harris the first international museum exhibition of art by women, "Women Artists, 1550-1950", the catalog for which has become a standard reference in feminist art history.
[Los Angeles]
SAL3 (off-campus storage) » Stacks » HQ1101 .C5 NO.9-10 1979-1980
Chrysalis: A Magazine of Women’s Culture was a short-lived but influential feminist journal published in Los Angeles from 1977 to 1980. Founded at the Los Angeles Women’s Building by Kirsten Grimstad, Susan Rennie, Sheila de Bretteville, Ruth Iskin, and Arlene Raven, this collectively run journal is distinguished from other feminist periodicals by its editorial range on women’s culture. Aiming “to combine the practical with the analytical, theoretical, and visionary,” each issue contained extensive self-help resource guides on women’s health and sexuality as well as articles on literature, movement politics, psychology, visual art, and history by high-profile writers such as Mary Daly, Robin Morgan, Adrienne Rich, and Audre Lorde. Noteworthy for researchers interested in feminism’s encounter with visual art are the lengthy interviews with feminist artists, original scholarship on women in art history, reviews of mainstream and small press art publications, and original art commissioned for each of the ten published issues. For a detailed exploration of the publication and editorial history of Chrysalis, see Women's Periodicals in the United States: Social and Political Issues, a reference guide to seventy periodicals produced by women in social movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Difference: On Representation and Sexuality is the catalog for a landmark 1984 exhibition at the New Museum that explored the production of sexed subjects through language and representation. Including mixed media, video, and film artists such as Victor Burgin, Silvia Kolbowski, Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine, Stuart Marshall, and Yvonne Rainer, it marked a radical departure from cultural feminism’s reclamation of female experience in its embrace of poststructuralist feminist theories that accentuated the psychological processes of sexual differentiation and the instability of gender. This slender yet influential catalog reflects the exhibition’s academic premise in its design, offering only limited black and white illustrations in favor of five excellent but theoretically dense essays on sexuality and representation by scholars Craig Owens, Jacqueline Rose, Lisa Tickner, Jane Weinstock, and Peter Wollen. Rose’s article, which first appeared in this catalog, developed into the eponymous book-length study, Sexuality in the Field of Vision, a canonical text in the fields of psychoanalysis, feminism, semiotics, and film theory. Film and video scholars should note the numerous screening programs included in the exhibition checklist at the end of the catalog.
[New York, Heresies Collective]
SAL1&2 (on-campus shelving) » Stacks » NX180 .F4 H4 NO.25-27 1990-1993
Heresies: A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics was a journal published on a quasi-quarterly basis from 1977 to 1993 by the Heresies Collective in New York. In contrast to the emphasis on cultural feminism in the short-lived West Coast journal Chrysalis (discussed above in this guide), Heresies was largely socialist-feminist in its orientation, and its editorial collective, which included founders Joan Braderman, Mary Beth Edelson, Harmony Hammond, Elizabeth Hess, Joyce Kozloff, Miriam Schapiro, and May Stevens, expanded to hundreds of members in its sixteen-year history. The journal differed as well from the monographic art history of the Feminist Art Journal and the Women’s Art Journal in its concentration on radical political and aesthetic theory written from a feminist perspective. Editorial responsibilities for Heresies rotated among “issue collectives,” and each issue was organized around a central theme such as “Lesbian Art and Artists” (1977), “Third World Women” (1979), “The Sex Issue” (1981), and “Coming of Age” (1987). The longevity and theme-oriented approach of this journal contribute to its status as an important document of the evolution of feminist thought and political activism from the 1970s to the 1990s.
Special Collections » Manuscript Collection » M1301 BOX 37
The daughter of farm working parents in California’s San Joaquin Valley, Ester Hernandez is a Bay Area visual artist whose work reflects her political commitment to the farm worker, feminist, environmental, and Chicano art movements. Engaged in the fight for farm worker rights with her family in the sixties, Hernandez developed her feminist consciousness amidst the Third World Women of Color Movement in Berkeley in the seventies and became a member of the San Francisco women’s mural collective, Las Mujeres Muralistas. Although Hernandez works in the media of pastels, performance, painting, photography, and installation, she is best known for her prints such as La Virgen de Guadalupe Defendiendo los Derechos de los Xicanos (1976) and La Ofrenda (1988) that transform the sacred image of the Virgin of Guadalupe into feminist icons of defiance and strength. This collection contains original artwork, photographs, articles on Hernandez and her contemporaries, original manuscripts, audio and visual recordings documenting interviews and political events, and ephemera gathered from artists, performers, and political/social activists and events. For a comprehensive examination of the Chicano art movement, including an essay by Amalia Mesa-Baines on the contributions of female artists, see Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation co-edited by Stanford Professor Yvonne Yarbro-Bejarano.
Special Collections » Manuscript Collection: request at Special Collections service desk » M1892
A pioneer in the fields of painting, performance, installation, video, and film, Carolee Schneemann is a central figure in post World War II American art and a progenitor of the feminist art movement. Her use of the female body to investigate the boundaries of the erotic, the sacred, and the taboo prefigured feminist art of the 1970s that explored female sexuality, goddess religions, and the space of abjection. Schneemann’s archive provides access to six decades of personal documentary material, including over 90 binders and notebooks from the early 1960s to recent years containing slides, photographs, programs, notes, diagrams, and instructions for exhibitions, performances, and films. Highlights of the collection include five “Life Books” of intimate photographs, self-portraits, clippings, occasionally collaged and painted, and over fifty journals that document the artist’s social encounters and personal experiences since 1956. To learn more about Schneemann’s multifaceted feminist practice, see the comprehensive Imaging Her Erotics: Essays, Interviews, Projects, a lavishly illustrated chronology of the artist’s work and writings, and Correspondence Course: An Epistolary History of Carolee Schneemann and Her Circle, an anthology of correspondence between the artist and her international contemporaries edited and prefaced by art historian Kristine Stiles.
Special Collections » Manuscript Collection » M1639 BOX 1
This exceptional archive features hours of unedited video interview footage for the feature-length documentary film Women Art Revolution directed by Bay Area artist Lynn Hershman Leeson. In intimate conversations recorded over a twenty-five year period, feminist artists, curators, and critics including Judy Baca, The Guerrilla Girls, Harmony Hammond, Susanne Lacy, Howardena Pindell, B. Ruby Rich, Faith Ringgold, Nancy Spero, Marcia Tucker, and Martha Wilson discuss the evolution of the feminist art movement in the United States and describe how the movement’s focus on personal experience, multicultural collaboration, and principles of social justice radically transformed postwar art and culture. In addition to online video streaming of the interviews, this collection includes downloadable interview transcripts and artist biographies, digitized images of feminist artwork, and film production notes. Stanford University Special Collections also possesses the Women Art Revolution graphic novel drawn by underground cartoonist Spain Rodriguez and the personal archives of director Lynn Hershman Leeson, a pioneering figure in the fields of feminist performance, video, and media art.