History of Feminist Art

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Feminist art began to grow in the 1960s and '70s, when women started creating artwork that expressed their femininity, political views and personal accomplishments. Discover the work of famous feminist artists, such as Judy Chicago, Cheri Gaulke and Faith Ringgold, with information from an art historian, critic and curator in this free video on art.

Part of the Video Series: Modern Art History
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Dr. Betty Brown, and I want to talk to you about the history of Feminist Art, a topic which is really dear to my heart. There have always been important women, who have contributed significantly to world culture, and there have always been women who have made art, but it wasn't until the 1960's and 70's, that in Western Culture at least, women began to acknowledge they needed to change, the cultural context of art production, and reevaluate it, and make a more assertive contribution to it. Some of the important feminist writers, people like Betty Friedan, instigated this, as well as important women politicians, but among the artists, perhaps the best known is the iconic figure, Judy Chicago. Judy was born in 1939, and went through an entire art education, without studying about the accomplishments or contributions of any women artists, and when she came to teaching herself, she started being a professor at Cal State Fresno, many years ago. She looked out into her classroom, and realized that most of her students were women, and here they were studying about a culture produced, at least apparently, only by men, so she began to evaluate the contributions that women had made, and why they had been erased from history. I'm sure you've heard about her iconic dinner party, a multimedia installation artwork, that honors over a thousand women, and their contributions to world culture. Judy collaborated on this with hundreds of women from all over the country, indeed, all over the world, and created a large room sized environment based on a triangular table, with thirty nine place settings, and it is now finally on permanent installation, permanent view, in New York, where everybody can see, and I'm sure be moved. Other important feminist artists are for example, Cheri Gaulke, a performance artist based here in Los Angeles. That's where I'm speaking from, who has done important work about her role as a woman, and a lesbian, and somebody growing up in the Christian church. Another important feminist artist is Faith Ringgold, who happens to be African American, and has employed African American narratives, with the American tradition of quilting, to create powerful feminist artworks. One of my favorite feminist artists is a woman named Betye Saar, who has not only done important artworks herself, but also given birth to two fabulous feminist artists, Alison and Leslie Saar, as well.


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