'The Gallery Dedicated To Lenticular Art And Photography'

Feminist art; contemporary art series

The new ways of thinking about art that emerged through the modern art period matured at a time when the whole of western society was thinking about a lot of things in new ways. Through the 1960s and 1970s, as modern art turned to contemporary, there were huge societal shifts in terms of race, sexuality, youth, and of course, feminism, which would soon give birth to its own feminist art movement.

Women’s names come up rarely in the history of art, and this reflected the wider societal role of women; the dutiful wife, raiser of children and keeper of the home, was not allowed into art schools, or allowed to spend time creating art. The handful of women who did manage to make something of a name for themselves were often from very privileged backgrounds with an artistic father or uncle who encouraged them. But as the 1960s came around with student protests, the civil rights movement, and second wave feminism, an opportunity opened up.

It had been building for some time, with the Women’s Suffrage movement delivering women the right to vote around the 1920s, the role of women in society had already started to shift and greatly gained momentum in the 1960s. And it wasn’t just that women were suddenly able to paint the same things men were painting, the style of art shifted to, it focused in on the themes and ideas inherent to feminism and ushered into the developing postmodern art world a true feminist art.

Evolving a uniquely feminist artform and shifting societal definitions

One of the classic early examples of feminist artwork came from the pop artist Yayoi Kusama, her piece Oven Pan covers an oven pan in bulbous lumps of the same materials, rendering it completely useless for purpose. As such, a kitchen object typically associated with the woman’s role in the home, suddenly refuses to conform to that role or purpose.

Yoko Ono’s performance work Cut Piece took a different route, metaphorically holding a mirror up to the typical sexualisation of women in art through history. The work invites the audience to take a pair of scissors and cut away parts of Ono’s clothing as she sits motionless in the gallery, until she is left with just a few tatters of clothes and underwear, literally making herself a passive object which people only desire to see more naked.

Wider support began to form around feminist artists in the 1970s as the Money for Women Fund began providing grants to them. At a similar time an increasing number of art galleries, collectors and critics were getting more interested in the critiques of traditional gender stereotypes, portrayals of women, and treatment of women. Here was an artform creating new definitions and potentials of what women could be in contemporary society, just as modern art had done the same for art itself.

Transcending a movement to define a genre

As the 1970s moved into the 1980s feminist art showed no signs of going away, and was feeding into activist and identity art, equally focused on social-changes in western societies that were rapidly redefining and rethinking themselves. Feminists began to push harder with groups like the Guerilla Girls focusing attentions directly on sexism within the art world, producing the widely noticed art print poster campaign of famous art nudes with the slogan “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met Museum?”

By the 1990s it was still going strong, but began to look much less like a singular movement, and more like a genre or theme of painting, as feminist artists began to produce original artworks within digital and other emerging movements. Other artists would explore broad themes like war, consumerism, or race, in any number of styles, but with a very specific feminist perspective. Far from being a five or ten year art movement, feminist art became too important to move on from, it had to be incorporated and evolved into every new emerging art scene to help ensure they didn’t become male dominated spaces with a singular male perspective.

Modern art questioned what art could be, but it took feminist art to ensure that whatever art was, it could be for women as well as men, and tell both sets of stories.

Copyright © 2023 The Lenticular Gallery.
All Rights Reserved.
Company No: 08821630 - VAT Reg No: GB183995058

Web Design By Smart Domain Group