Art and feminism

wack: art and the feminist revolution

I missed the discussion about this book cover during the accompanying exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, last summer. Clearly the provocative cover image of the catalogue is intended to cause the viewer to consider the nature of feminism and feminist art.

According to the museum website, “the artists in WACK! made feminism one of the most important influences on art of the late twentieth century”:

In the 1970s, women changed the way art was made and talked about forever. WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution is a long-awaited international survey that chronicles the impact of the feminist revolution on art made between 1965 and 1980, featuring groundbreaking works by artists such as Chantal Akerman, Lynda Benglis, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Valie Export, Mary Heilman, Sanja Ivekovic, Ana Mendieta, and Annette Messager, who came of age during that period — as well as others such as Louise Bourgeois, Judy Chicago, Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, Lucy Lippard, Alice Neel, and Yoko Ono, whose careers were well established.

A lively discussion on the MOCA page, focusing on the cover art, begins with these comments:

Sarah Rossiter: “The front cover unfortunately caters to the power structures that Feminism has sought to combat.”

Paige Wery: “I think Sarah Rossiter misses the point. The cover of this catalog is empowering.”

The cover art is Body Beautiful, Beauty Knows No Pain: Hot House, or Harem, 1966-1972, by Martha Rosler. Here is an excerpt from the catalogue about the series of which this painting is a part:

In one series of thirty-one works, Body Beautiful, or Beauty Knows No Pain, Rosler interrupted magazine advertisements by collaging them with elements that call attention to the ubiquitous use of women’s bodies and body parts in the media to market consumer goods.

Link: MOCA page on WACK!
Via The Book Design Review
Buy at Powell’s Bookstore


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1 Comment

  1. There has been a lot of discussion on all sorts of blogs about this show (and the cover). I don’t know what I think but I am pretty cynical about this show which claims to present and promote feminism while being so very ambiguous in its exhibits and presentation. I’m not surprised at the comments on the comment page; any woman (artist or otherwise) who has a viable presence on the web and posts any opinion even remotely pro-feminist only has to wait 10 minutes or so before the trolls are going postal in her comments section. I just posted a long essay on the lack of women artists at our own SFMOMA(the lack of comments shows my lack of web visibility , not the validity of my research) ; to me, that’s the more “real” issue. One large exhibit every 20 (?) or so years does not make up for the underrepresentation, lack of prestige, general critical bashing,, lower prices etc. that the majority of women artists endure year in and year out.