THE POWER OF FEMINIST ART by Norma Broude

THE POWER OF FEMINIST ART

The American Movement of the 1970s, History and Impact
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Dead white male George Santayana finds himself quoted more than once in this comprehensive record of feminist art and politics since the '70s. Painfully aware that feminism as an idea has arisen periodically since the Middle Ages but has until now never managed to last for more than a generation, the authors hope that, armed with a knowledge of feminist ``herstory,'' future artists will expand on rather than repeat the work of their predecessors. Representing a wide spectrum of feminist artists and thinkers, the 18 contributors to this impressive historical reference book include prominent women such as art historians Linda Nochlin and Arlene Raven and painter Miriam Schapiro. The book, edited by Broude and Garrard (both Art History/American Univ.), covers both art and politics, discussing such internationally famous projects as the CalArts student installation Womanhouse, as well as the contemporary activist groups WAC (the Women's Action Coalition) and the Guerrilla Girls. The authors analyze art ranging from Judy Chicago's ``central core'' imagery to lesbian performance pieces, ``great goddess'' imagery, and the pattern and decoration movement. (Le Corbusier once stated, ``There is a hierarchy in the arts: decorative art at the bottom, human form at the top. Because we are men.'') While the work represented here varies greatly in content and quality, all of it stems from what the artists often describe as ``coming to consciousness'' about their oppressed condition. For some artists this seems to have been a powerful, almost ``born again'' experience; for others it was a gradual reorientation of perspective. As this book makes clear, the collective impact of feminist thought on contemporary society has also been significant- -in the early '70s, young art historians studying past women artists discovered that slides of their work did not even exist. However, discrimination still exists: As the Guerrilla Girls' posters reproduced here show, despite a roughly equal gender mix in art schools over the past 20 years, most major galleries still show mostly men. Essential reading for any woman in the arts. (245 illustrations, 118 in color)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-8109-3732-8
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Abrams
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1994




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