It has been suggested that Feminist art be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since January 2024.

The feminist art movement refers to the efforts and accomplishments of feminists internationally to produce art that reflects women's lives and experiences, as well as to change the foundation for the production and perception of contemporary art. It also seeks to bring more visibility to women within art history and art practice. The movement challenges the traditional hierarchy of arts over crafts, which views hard sculpture and painting as superior to the narrowly perceived 'women's work' of arts and crafts such as weaving, sewing, quilting and ceramics.[1] Women artists have overturned the traditional view by, for example, using unconventional materials in soft sculptures, new techniques such as stuffing, hanging and draping, and for new purposes such as telling stories of their own life experiences.[1] The objectives of the feminist art movement are thus to deconstruct the traditional hierarchies, represent women more fairly and to give more meaning to art. It helps construct a role for those who wish to challenge the mainstream (and often masculine) narrative of the art world.[2] Corresponding with general developments within feminism, and often including such self-organizing tactics as the consciousness-raising group, the movement began in the 1960s and flourished throughout the 1970s as an outgrowth of the so-called second wave of feminism. It has been called "the most influential international movement of any during the postwar period."[3]



The 1960s was a period when women artists wanted to gain equal rights with men within the established art world, and to create feminist art, often in non-traditional ways, to help "change the world".[4] This movement was actually started in America and Britain in the late 1960s and is often referred to as "second-wave" feminism. And In the 1960s and 1970s, many artists began to practice art that showed their own reality in their works. The artists at the time realized that it was wrong for art historians and museums to pay more attention to male artists and only to their paintings, and that women should further integrate topics such as the social treatment of women, and the frequent discrimination against women into their works.

Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010) and German-American Eva Hesse (1936–1970) were some early feminist artists.[4]

On 20 July 1964 Yoko Ono, a Fluxus, avant-garde artist, singer, and activist, presented Cut Piece at the Yamaichi Concert Hall, Kyoto, Japan where she sat still as parts of her clothing were cut off of her, which meant to protest violence against women. She performed it again at Carnegie Hall in 1965.[5] Her son, Sean, participated in the artist performance on 15 September 2013 at the Théâtre le Ranelagh in Paris. The Guardian's Jonathan Jones considered it "one of the 10 most shocking performance artworks ever."[6]

Mary Beth Edelson's Some Living American Women Artists / Last Supper (1972) appropriated Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, with the heads of notable women artists collaged over the heads of Christ and his apostles. Benglis was among those notable women artists. This image, addressing the role of religious and art historical iconography in the subordination of women, became "one of the most iconic images of the feminist art movement."[7][8]

Women artists, motivated by feminist theory and the feminist movement, began the feminist art movement in the 1970s. Feminist art represented a shift away from modernism, where art made by women was put in a different class to works made by men. The movement cultivated a new feminist consciousness, a "freedom to respond to life... [Unimpeded] by traditional male mainstream."[9] Or, as Griselda Pollock and Rozsika Parker put it—a separation of Art with a capital "A" from art made by women produced a "feminine stereotype".[10] The Dinner Party by Chicago, an art installation symbolically representing women’s history, is widely considered the first epic feminist artwork which was very significant in Feminist art.[11] There are 39 elaborate place settings on a triangular table for 39 mythical and historical famous women. And each place setting includes a hand-painted china plate, ceramic cutlery and chalice, and a napkin with an embroidered gold edge. And the goal of the artwork was "end the ongoing cycle of omission in which women were written out of the historical record."[12] Moreover, Chicago said she was "scared to death of what I'd unleashed," however, she was also "I had watched a lot of young women come up with me through graduate school only to disappear, and I wanted to do something about it."[13]

This demand for equality in representation was codified in the Art Workers' Coalition's (AWC) Statement of Demands, which was developed in 1969 and published in definitive form in March 1970. The AWC was set up to defend the rights of artists and force museums and galleries to reform their practices. While the coalition sprung up as a protest movement following Greek kinetic sculptor Panagiotis "Takis" Vassilakis's physical removal of his work Tele-Sculpture(1960) from a 1969 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, it quickly issued a broad list of demands to 'art museums in general'.[citation needed]

Alongside calls for free admission, better representation of ethnic minorities, late openings and an agreement that galleries would not exhibit an artwork without the artist's consent, the AWC also demanded that museums 'encourage female artists to overcome centuries of damage done to the image of the female as an artist by establishing equal representation of the sexes in exhibitions, museum purchases and on selection committees'.[14]


The feminist art movement in the 1980s and 1990s built upon the foundations laid by earlier feminist art movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Feminist artists throughout this time period aimed to question and undermine established gender roles, confront issues of gender injustice, and give voice to women's experiences in the arts and society at large. A wide range of artistic disciplines, such as painting, sculpture, performance art, photography, video art, and installations, were included in the movement.

The portrayal of women in art was one of the main issues feminist artists in the 1980s and 1990s focused on. They challenged and subverted standard representations of women as passive objects or muses while criticizing the male-dominated art canon. Many feminist artists investigated topics of sexuality, identity, and the social construction of gender while reclaiming the female body as a source of power. Moreover, The 1980s and 1990s feminist art movement placed a strong emphasis on the examination of both individual and group experiences. Photographic and collage techniques were used by artists like Cindy Sherman and Barbara Kruger to explore themes of identity, self-representation, and the formation of gender roles in popular culture. They questioned the idea of a rigid and fundamental feminine identity and emphasized how gender is performative.

In detail for the example of artists, Barbara Kruger, Sherry Levin since the late 1980 s. Cindy Sherman, Louis Bourgeois, Rosemary Trokel, Kiki Smith, Helen Chedwick and others stood out. Cindy Sherman gave a visual shock through photographs she took while transforming into a specific character or acting herself. Sherry Levine intentionally reproduced the works of masters to reveal the fiction of originality and artistry. Kiki Smith urged people to reflect on the lives of modern people through damaged human ridicule.

Institutional critique emerged as a prominent component of the feminist art movement in the 1980s and 1990s. Along with producing their own works, feminist artists also looked at and opposed the patriarchal structures and restrictive practices that prevail in art institutions. They sought to remove the obstacles that prevented women from participating fully and being taken seriously in the art industry. Here are a some examples of how artists of this time engaged in institutional criticism: Guerrilla Girls which was a collective of anonymous feminist artists, emerged in the 1980s. ,The Museum of Modern Art Protest in 1984 which the protesters criticized MoMA for its exclusionary practices and demanded more representation for women and artists of color , and The "Bad Girls" Exhibition in 1994, which was aiming to upend the currently male-dominated art world and make room for the perspectives and experiences of female artists.

These illustrations show how feminist artists participated in institutional critique by contesting the discriminatory attitudes and practices that exist in art institutions. They planned demonstrations, interventions, and shows to challenge the current quo, demand more representation for female artists, and draw attention to racial and gender disparities in the art world. Feminist artists made a contribution to the continuous evolution of the art world by promoting inclusivity and providing opportunities for upcoming generations of female artists.

Overall, Women's art in the 1980s developed more diversely, by also the magazine Art News in the U.S. published praise for female artists being in a leading position without being subordinate to male art. However, as the overall flow of the art world tends to return to traditional styles and materials, feminists also have neo-expressionism. He showed a tendency to ride with new conceptualism.

There are also feminist forms of postmodernism which emerged in the 1980s. Feminist art movements emerged in the United States; Europe,[15] including Spain;[16] Australia; Canada;[17] and Latin America in the 1970s.[18][19]

The women's art movements spread world-wide in the latter half of the 20th century, including Sweden, Denmark and Norway, Russia, and Japan.[20][21] Women artists from Asia, Africa and particularly Eastern Europe emerged in large numbers onto the international art scene in the late 1980s and 1990s as contemporary art became popular worldwide.[22][23][24]


The contemporary Feminist Art Movement is now following various directions with the development of electronic technology and the new forms of entertainment in the 21st century.

Major exhibitions of contemporary women artists include WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution curated by Connie Butler, SF MOMA, 2007, Global Feminisms curated by Linda Nochlin and Maura Reilly at the Brooklyn Museum, 2007,[25] Rebelle, curated by Mirjam Westen at MMKA, Arnheim, 2009, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang! 45 Years of Art and Feminism curated by Xavier Arakistan at Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, 2007,[26] Elles at Centre Pompidou in Paris (2009–2011), which also toured to Seattle Art Museum.[27] have been increasingly international in their selection. This shift is also reflected in journals set up in the 1990s like n.paradoxa.[28]

Feminist art movement and media

One of the things that gives people the most entertainment in the modern era as the times progressed is the works of art from the media. For example, things like 'music', 'drama', 'movie', and 'game'. The development in music is particularly notable. In terms of Hip-Hop music, many hip-hop songs promote the art of feminism. Taking South Korea as an example, many female hip-hop singers will openly produce hip-hop songs about feminism to speak out for some unequal gender issues in society.[1] For example, the Korean female rapper BIBI released a song called "Animal Farm" this year, which expresses women's resistance to gender discrimination against women in a patriarchal society and the issue of male coagulation by borrowing the classic footage from "Kill Bill".

Multi-Disciplinary Art Movement

See also: Feminist art

Feminist art (Feminist Art Movement) frequently blended elements from numerous movements such as Conceptual art, Body art, and Video art into works that delivered a message about the experience of women and the need for gender equality.[13]

Performance Art

During the 1970s and until now(21st century), performance art and the feminist Art movement well interact with each other, as the aspect of 'performance' is an effective way for women artists to communicate a physical and visceral message[13] The interaction of art with the viewer throughout performance art has significant impact emotionally. Moreover, as the artists and works are combined into one art and there is no separation, Performance art, and Feminist Art is also a nice element to evaluate the artists' actual experiences. It strives to question and criticize patriarchy, gender norms, and female oppression. Feminist performance artists work to empower women, bring attention to gender inequality, and spark social and political change through their bodies, voices, and other artistic forms.

For example, Regina José Galindo, is a Guatemalan performance artist who specializes in body art. Galindo's female body works focus on two major representations: First, the representation of the "excessive, carnalized, grotesque and abject female body"; Second, on the "female body that has been subjected to violence at a private and public level". Galindo uses the body to explore "female sexuality, notions of feminine beauty, race or domestic and national violence".

For another example, there is Karen Finley, a female performer who performs nude, by shocking her audiences with violent and sexually abusing stories. Within Finley's performance, she used to stand at the point as "victims of rape, child abuse, AIDS, domestic violence and racism". Finely is using her body and the nudity from her body performance to "speak for other women who are unable to speak for themselves...". Finely's body is a medium to present as a "site of oppression". Though, the critique Finely's nudity performances as "pornographic", Finely believes that a woman's body can become a representative of all the bodies of all women who had/have/will be suffered from those oppression.

Carolee Schneemann's "Interior Scroll" is a famous performance from 1975 in which she stood on a table, gently unrolled a scroll tucked inside her vagina, and read aloud from it. The artwork criticizes the male-dominated art world and stands for the reclamation of women's bodies.

Judy Chicago's "The Dinner Party" This enormous installation piece was created between 1974 and 1979 and depicts a triangular table with place settings for 39 famous women in history. The complex designs on each dish, which celebrate women's accomplishments and raise awareness about the exclusion of female contributions, resemble vulvae.

Marina Abramović's "Rhythm 0" was a durational performance from 1974 in which she invited the audience to use 72 objects on her in any way they chose. Power, vulnerability, and the objectification of women were all topics that were covered throughout the performance.

Orlan's "The Reincarnation of Saint Orlan" In this continuing performance piece that dates back to 1990, the artist has had her face altered through several plastic procedures in order to conform it to the ideals of Western art history. Orlan examines problems of identity and the nexus between art and technology by questioning beauty standards and the commodification of women's bodies.

Suzanne Lacy's "The Institute of the Feminine Mystique" The purpose of this performance, which took place in 1977, was to discuss the expectations that society has for women. In order to question these established positions, Lacy and her collaborators created a pretend institute that offered services like cooking classes, weight loss programs, and self-help lectures.

Guerrilla Girls' "The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist" Since the 1980s, The Guerrilla Girls, an anonymous collective of feminist artists, have used performance art to highlight racial and gender disparities in the art industry. They are holding up a list of benefits that male artists have over their female counterparts in this particular piece while wearing gorilla masks.

Body Art

Body art can be Tattoos, body piercing, branding, scarification, dermal anchors, and three-dimensional art or body modifications such as beading. Body art can be an example of Performance Art and they can be overlapped in Feminist Art. For example, there is Nil Yalter's film called 'The Headless Woman (Belly Dance)'. It focuses on a woman’s stomach on which text has been inscribed. And the woman keeps writing the text on the belly(Body Art). And as the woman begins her belly dance, all we see is the soft flesh of her undulating stomach, and the pulsing text.[29]

An example is "Cut Piece" by Yoko Ono: In 1964, Yoko Ono performed "Cut Piece," in which she invited the audience to cut portions of her garment with scissors while she sat on a stage wearing her nicest dress. Topics like vulnerability, agency, and objectification of women were all touched on in the performance.

Barbara Kruger's "Your Body is a Battleground": This famous piece of art from 1989 combines a black-and-white image of a woman's face with the bold words "Your Body is a Battleground." In her essay, Kruger addresses topics including body commodification, reproductive rights, and control.

Hannah Wilke's "Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2" In this performance from 1976, Wilke descended a stairway slowly while wearing sculptures made out of chewed-up gum. She fought the commodification of women's bodies, the male gaze, and sexualization in her piece.

Ana Mendieta's "The Pregnant Woman": Mendieta explored the relationship between her body and nature in a series of performances from the 1970s. She utilized her bare body as a canvas for "The Pregnant Woman," pushing it against various objects like rocks and trees to make imprints. The piece honors the female body's capacity for conception and childrearing.

By Suzanne Lacy, "In Mourning and In Rage": A group of women, directed by Suzanne Lacy, laid down on the grass of a Los Angeles cemetery in the shape of a huge peace sign for this performance in 1977. The concert was a protest against violence against women, especially the murders committed by the Hillside Strangler at the time.

Another example of Orlan's is "Redressing III". In this 1990 work, ORLAN has plastic surgery while awake and broadcasts the procedure to a gallery audience. The piece questions gender norms, masculine gaze, and the pressure on women to uphold specific standards of beauty.

These examples show how feminist body art challenges and subverts conventional ideas about the female body by bringing attention to issues of power, control, and agency and reclaiming women's bodies as places for resistance and self-expression.

Video Art

Starting in the Late 1960s, Video art appeared in the art world as a unique art form using video technology as a visual and sound medium. And unlike classic and traditional arts like painting and sculpture, video art was not only dominated by men in history. With the aid of new technology, female artists were able to tell their own stories and share their perspectives, resulting in new works about women that would serve as a repository for the feminist history of contemporary art. The video was seen as a trigger for a media revolution that could put the means of television transmission in the hands of the general population, giving the feminist art movement a huge opportunity to expand its audience. There were female artists who demonstrated feminism through video art such as Pipilotti Rist, Shirin Neshat, Martha Rosler, Chantal Akerman, Joan Jonas, Sadie Benning, and more.

An example is the 1975 book "Semiotics of the Kitchen" by Martha Rosler: In this renowned video performance, Martha Rosler parodies the structure of a cooking show, but instead of showcasing her domestic prowess, she vents her resentment and rage by wielding kitchen implements. The show criticizes traditional gender norms and the notion that women should be submissive and domestic.

Dara Birnbaum's "Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman" (1978–1979): The popular television program "Wonder Woman" is dissected in Birnbaum's video art work by focusing on and replaying specific scenes where the lead character assumes her heroic persona. By editing the video, Birnbaum explores how women are portrayed in the media and challenges the constraints and standards put on female characters.

Suzanne Lacy's "The Cyphers" (1977–1978): The experiences of African American women living in Watts, Los Angeles, are the main subject of Lacy's video work. Lacy emphasizes the perspectives and experiences of these women through interviews and performances, shedding focus on the interconnectedness of race, gender, and class and questioning prevailing myths.

Annette Messager's "A Short History of the Wheel" was published in 1972. In this work of video art, Messager offers a feminist critique of the demands imposed on women by society. She explores issues of power, oppression, and the constrained roles given to women through a sequence of symbolic images and acts.

Notable artists and collectives of the movement

Artists: 19th Century

Artists: 20th – 21st Century

Artist Collectives

See also


  1. ^ a b Gipson, Ferren (2022). Women's work: from feminine arts to feminist art. London: Frances Lincoln. ISBN 978-0-7112-6465-6.
  2. ^ Kennedy, Victoria (July 19, 2017). "What is Feminist Art?". Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  3. ^ Jeremy Strick, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in the Washington Post, 2007
  4. ^ a b "Feminist art movement". The Art Story Foundation. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  5. ^ Jarett Murphy (16 October 2003). "Crowd Cuts Yoko Ono's Clothing Off". CBS News. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
  6. ^ Jonathan Jones (11 November 2013). "The 10 most shocking performance artworks ever". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
  7. ^ "Mary Beth Edelson". The Frost Art Museum Drawing Project. Archived from the original on 2016-06-15. Retrieved 20 October 2022.
  8. ^ "Mary Beth Adelson". Clara – Database of Women Artists. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of Women in the Arts. Archived from the original on 10 January 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  9. ^ Deoritha Anne Waters, Three Feminist Perspectives on Visual Media: Influences of the Second Wave Feminist Movement on Women’s Art Education and Their Lives as Artists, ed. Deoritha Anne Waters (Michigan: ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2014), 1.
  10. ^ Rozsika Parker; Griselda Pollock (1981). Old Mistresses: Women, Art and Ideology. Pandora, RKP.
  11. ^ Jane F. Gerhard (1 June 2013). The Dinner Party: Judy Chicago and the Power of Popular Feminism, 1970–2007. University of Georgia Press. pp. 221–. ISBN 978-0-8203-3675-6.
  12. ^ Chicago, 10
  13. ^ a b c "Feminist Art Movement Overview". The Art Story. Retrieved 2023-05-15.
  14. ^ Harrison, Charles (2000). Art in theory (Repr. ed.). Oxford [u.a.]: Blackwell. p. 901. ISBN 0-631-16575-4.
  15. ^ Gislind Nabakowski; Peter Gorsen; Sander Helke (1980). Frauen in der Kunst(2 Vols.). Frankfurt, Suhrkamp.
  16. ^ "Mujeres en les Artes Visuales, Women in the Visual Arts, Spanish chronology". Archived from the original on 2014-02-21. Retrieved 2014-02-05.
  17. ^ Marie Rose Arbour Art et Feminisme Exhibition catalogue. Canada: Quebec, Musée d'Art Contemporain, Montreal & Ministere des Affaires Culturelles. 1982
  18. ^ Catriona Moore (1994). Dissonance: Feminism and the Arts, 1970–1990. Allen and Unwin and Artspace.
  19. ^ see Andrea Giunta's, Feminist Disruptions in Mexican Art, 1975–1987 in Number 5 .(c) Artelogie, October 2013.
  20. ^ Hindsbo, Karen. The Beginning is Always Today: Scandinavian feminist art from the last 20 years. SKMU, Sørlandets Kunstmuseum, 2013.
  21. ^ Kokatsu, Reiko.Women In-Between: Asian Women Artists 1984–2012. Japan, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, 2012.
  22. ^ Gender Check: Masculinity and Femininity in the Art in Eastern Europe Archived 2017-07-03 at the Wayback Machine,
  23. ^ Huangfu, Binghui.(ed).Text and Sub-Text(Singapore: Lasalle-SIA University, 2000).
  24. ^ Dike, Paul Chike and Oyelola, Patricia. Nigerian Women in Visual Art. National Gallery of Art, Lagos, Nigeria, 2004
  25. ^ Global Feminisms
  26. ^ Kiss Kiss Bang Bang! 45 Years of Art and Feminism
  27. ^ Elles Pompidou. Archived 2014-03-17 at the Wayback Machine Seattle Art Museum
  28. ^ Connor, Maureen (Summer 2002). "Working Notes: Conversation with Katy Deepwell". Art Journal. 61 (2): 32–43. doi:10.2307/778180. JSTOR 778180.
  29. ^ Güner, Fisun (2016-10-02). "Feminist art of the 1970s: knives, nudity and terrified Men". Fisun Güner. Retrieved 2023-05-15.

Further reading