Sunday, October 22, 2006
First, we would have to make a distinction between female art and Feminist art. Whereas the first is a label for art made by women, the latter addresses very specific socio-political issues regarding the exploitation of women by men. Feminism is right about the suppression and dislocation of women from the public sphere (since the Renaissance until the end of the Twentieth Century; just look at the disproportion of male and female artists in Modern art history). 1- An important alert to feminist issues came in the 1970’s, with artist Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party, a work that used several traditionally “feminine” art-mediums to teach women’s history (Chicago’s work represents the ways in which feminists began to explore their oppression through art). Why is it that the early avant-garde (Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Futurism, De Stijl, etc) were essentially male-driven movements? I don’t want to dwell in the causes of this phenomenon, which has been well-documented by Feminists such as Simone De Beauvoir in The Second Sex, Shulamith Firestone’s The Dialectics of Sex or Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice, among many others. 2- Since the 1960’s female art has brought forth a new attention to materials: ceramics, latex, rubber, fiberglass and yarn. There is a return to fiber media: weaving, quilt-making, etc. Formally, female art is generally characterized by a biomorphic, more fluid focus. In performance/art, video and photography, women have explored gestures of objectification and exploitation from a different perspective than those found in male performances (which tend to be more heroic). 3- Although art is universal, the claim that art has no gender is not necessarily true (See post-feminism). Can you think of particular female art themes? Go ahead.