One of the first female artists to achieve recognition in her own time, Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653) became instantly popular in the 1970s when feminist art historians "discovered" her and argued vehemently for a place for her in the canon of Italian baroque painters. Featured alongside her father, Orazio Gentileschi, in a recent exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Artemisia has continued to stir interest though her position in the canon remains precarious, in part because her sensationalized life history has overshadowed her art.
In The Artemisia Files, Mieke Bal and her coauthors look squarely at this early icon of feminist art history and the question of her status as an artist. Considering the events that shaped her life and reputation—her relationship to her father and her role as the victim in a highly publicized rape case during which she was tortured into giving evidence—the authors make the case that Artemisia's importance is due to more than her role as a poster child in the feminist attack on traditional art history; here, Artemisia emerges more fully as a highly original artist whose work is greater than the sum of the events that have traditionally defined her.
The fresh, engaging discourse in The Artemisia Files will help to both renew the reputation of this artist on the merit of her work and establish her rightful place in the history of art.
“Over the last generation Artemisia has been transformed from a talented curiosity . . . into a standard bearer of early feminist consciousness. This book offers a fascinating glimpse into the critical frame of mind underlying this transformation.”—Keith Christiansen, Jayne Wrightsman Curator of Italian Painting, TheMetropolitanMuseumof Art
A Decade of Negative Thinking brings together writings on contemporary art and culture by the painter and feminist art theorist Mira Schor. Mixing theory and practice, the personal and the political, she tackles questions about the place of feminism in art and political discourse, the aesthetics and values of contemporary painting, and the influence of the market on the creation of art. Schor writes across disciplines and is committed to the fluid interrelationship between a formalist aesthetic, a literary sensibility, and a strongly political viewpoint. Her critical views are expressed with poetry and humor in the accessible language that has been her hallmark, and her perspective is informed by her dual practice as a painter and writer and by her experience as a teacher of art.
In essays such as “The ism that dare not speak its name,” “Generation 2.5,” “Like a Veneer,” “Modest Painting,” “Blurring Richter,” and “Trite Tropes, Clichés, or the Persistence of Styles,” Schor considers how artists relate to and represent the past and how the art market influences their choices: whether or not to disavow a social movement, to explicitly compare their work to that of a canonical artist, or to take up an exhausted style. She places her writings in the rich transitory space between the near past and the “nextmodern.” Witty, brave, rigorous, and heartfelt, Schor’s essays are impassioned reflections on art, politics, and criticism.
While Indonesian contemporary art is currently on the rise on the international art scene, there hasn't yet been an in-depth study of the works of Indonesian women artists and the feminist strategies they employ within the art world. This book fills that gap, presenting the first comprehensive study of feminisms and contemporary art in Indonesia; using feminist readings to analyse the works of Indonesian women artists historically and today; illuminating the sociocultural contexts in which they have worked; and offering a nuanced understanding of local feminisms in the nation.
In 1974, women in a feminist consciousness-raising group in Eugene, Oregon, formed a mock organization called the Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society. Emblazoning its logo onto t-shirts, the group wryly envisioned female collective textile making as a practice that could upend conventions, threaten state structures, and wreak political havoc. Elaborating on this example as a prehistory to the more recent phenomenon of “craftivism”—the politics and social practices associated with handmaking—Fray explores textiles and their role at the forefront of debates about process, materiality, gender, and race in times of economic upheaval.
Closely examining how amateurs and fine artists in the United States and Chile turned to sewing, braiding, knotting, and quilting amid the rise of global manufacturing, Julia Bryan-Wilson argues that textiles unravel the high/low divide and urges us to think flexibly about what the politics of textiles might be. Her case studies from the 1970s through the 1990s—including the improvised costumes of the theater troupe the Cockettes, the braided rag rugs of US artist Harmony Hammond, the thread-based sculptures of Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña, the small hand-sewn tapestries depicting Pinochet’s torture, and the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt—are often taken as evidence of the inherently progressive nature of handcrafted textiles. Fray, however, shows that such methods are recruited to often ambivalent ends, leaving textiles very much “in the fray” of debates about feminized labor, protest cultures, and queer identities; the malleability of cloth and fiber means that textiles can be activated, or stretched, in many ideological directions.
The first contemporary art history book to discuss both fine art and amateur registers of handmaking at such an expansive scale, Fray unveils crucial insights into how textiles inhabit the broad space between artistic and political poles—high and low, untrained and highly skilled, conformist and disobedient, craft and art.
Modern and contemporary women's artistic production of autobiography frequently occurs at the interfaces of image and text. The many permutations of words and images in all their modes of production--photograph, pose, invocation, written narrative, sculpture, dance, diatribe--create countless possibilities of expression, and this volume charts some of the ways in which women artists are seizing these possibilities.
Editors Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson have been at the vanguard of the study of women's self-representation, and here have collected leading critics' and scholars' thoughts on artistic fusions of the visual and autobiographical. Marianne Hirsch, Linda Hutcheon, Linda Kauffman, Nellie McKay, Marjorie Perloff, Lee Quinby, and the other contributors offer new insights into the work of such artists as Laurie Anderson, Judy Chicago, Frida Kahlo, Orlan, and Cindy Sherman. From a painter's diary to a performance artist's ritualized enactments of kitchen domesticity, the many narratives of the self arising from these artists' negotiations of the visual and textual prove to be goldmines for analysis.
Art historians, artists, critics, literary scholars in women's studies, and anyone interested in the forms and implications of depicting the self will enjoy this richly illustrated collection.
Sidonie Smith is Professor of English, University of Michigan. Julia Watson is Associate Professor of Comparative Studies, The Ohio State University. They also edited Reading Autobiography: A Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives and Women, Autobiography, Theory: A Reader.
The Matrixial Borderspace
Bracha Ettinger University of Minnesota Press, 2006 Library of Congress N72.F45E88 2006 | Dewey Decimal 701.15082
Artist, psychoanalyst, and feminist theorist Bracha Ettinger presents an original theoretical exploration of shared affect and emergent expression, across the thresholds of identity and memory. Ettinger works through Lacan’s late works, the anti-Oedipal perspectives of Deleuze and Guattari, as well as object-relations theory to critique the phallocentrism of mainstream Lacanian theory and to rethink the masculine-feminine opposition. She replaces the phallic structure with a dimension of emergence, where objects, images, and meanings are glimpsed in their incipiency, before they are differentiated. This is the matrixial realm, a shareable, psychic dimension that underlies the individual unconscious and experience.
Concerned with collective trauma and memory, Ettinger’s own experience as an Israeli living with the memory of the Holocaust is a deep source of inspiration for her paintings, several of which are reproduced in the book. The paintings, like the essays, replay the relation between the visible and invisible, the sayable and ineffable; the gaze, the subject, and the other.
Bracha Ettinger is a painter and a senior clinical psychologist. She is professor of psychoanalysis and aesthetics at the University of Leeds, England, and Bezalel Academy, Jerusalem.
Judith Butler is professor of rhetoric and comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley. Griselda Pollock is professor of fine arts at the University of Leeds. Brian Massumi is professor of communication at the University of Montreal.
A Mieke Bal Reader
Mieke Bal University of Chicago Press, 2006 Library of Congress NX65.B35 2006 | Dewey Decimal 700.9
Mieke Bal has had a significant impact on every field she has touched, from Old Testament scholarship and narratology to critical methods and visual culture. This brilliant and controversial intellectual invariably performs a high-wire act at the point where critical issues and methods intersect—or collide. She is deeply interested in the problems of cultural analysis across a range of disciplines. A Mieke Bal Reader brings together for the first time a representative collection of her work that distills her broad interests and areas of expertise.
This Reader is organized into four parts, reflecting the fields that Bal has most profoundly influenced: literary study, interdisciplinary methodology, visual analysis, and postmodern theology. The essays include some of Bal’s most characteristic and provocative work, capturing her at the top of her form. “Narration and Focalization,” for example, provides the groundwork for Bal’s ideas on narrative, while “Reading Art?” clearly outlines her concept of reading images. “Religious Canon and Literary Identity” reenvisions Bal’s own work at the intersection of theology and cultural analysis, while “Enfolding Feminism” argues for a new feminist rallying cry that is not a position but a metaphor. More than a dozen other essays round out the four sections, each of which is interdisciplinary in its own right: the section devoted to literature, for instance, ranges widely over psychoanalysis, theology, photography, and even autobiography.
A Mieke Bal Reader is the product of a capacious intellect and a sustained commitment to critical thinking. It will prove to be instructive, maddening, and groundbreaking—in short, all the hallmarks of intellectual inquiry at its best.
The contributions of female artists to the development of literary and artistic modernism in early twentieth century France remain poorly understood. It was during this period that a so-called “modern woman” began occupying urban spaces associated with the development of modern art and modernism’s struggles to define subjectivities and sexualities. Whereas most studies of modernism’s formal innovations and its encouragement of artistic autonomy neglect or omit necessary discussions of gender, race, class, and sexual orientation, the contributors of The Modern Woman Revisited inject these perspectives into the discussion.
Between the two World Wars, Paris served as the setting for unparalleled freedom for expatriate as well as native-born French women, who enjoyed unprecedented access to education and opportunities to participate in public artistic and intellectual life. Many of these women made lasting contributions in art and literature. Some of the artists discussed include Colette, Tamara de Lempicka, Sonia Delaunay, Djuna Barnes, Augusta Savage, and Lee Miller.
Inthis book, an internationally recognized roster of art historians, literary critics, and other scholars offers a nuanced portrait of what it meant to be a modern woman during this decisive period of modernism’s development. Individual essays explore the challenges faced by women in the early decades of the twentieth century, as well as the strategies these women deployed to create their art and to build meaningful lives and careers. The introduction underscores the importance of the contributors’ efforts to engender larger questions about modernity, sexuality, race, and class.
Presenting two decades of work by Abigail Solomon-Godeau, Photography after Photography is an inquiry into the circuits of power that shape photographic practice, criticism, and historiography. As the boundaries that separate photography from other forms of artistic production are increasingly fluid, Solomon-Godeau, a pioneering feminist and politically engaged critic, argues that the relationships between photography, culture, gender, and power demand renewed attention. In her analyses of the photographic production of Cindy Sherman, Robert Mapplethorpe, Susan Meiselas, Francesca Woodman, and others, Solomon-Godeau refigures the disciplinary object of photography by considering these practices through an examination of the determinations of genre and gender as these shape the relations between photographers, their images, and their viewers. Among her subjects are the 2006 Abu Ghraib prison photographs and the Cold War-era exhibition The Family of Man, insofar as these illustrate photography's embeddedness in social relations, viewing relations, and ideological formations.
Subverting stereotypical images of women, a new generation of feminist artists is remaking the pin-up, much as Annie Sprinkle, Cindy Sherman, and others did in the 1970s and 1980s. As shocking as contemporary feminist pin-ups are intended to be, perhaps more surprising is that the pin-up has been appropriated by women for their own empowerment since its inception more than a century ago. Pin-Up Grrrls tells the history of the pin-up from its birth, revealing how its development is intimately connected to the history of feminism. Maria Elena Buszek documents the genre’s 150-year history with more than 100 illustrations, many never before published.
Beginning with the pin-up’s origins in mid-nineteenth-century carte-de-visite photographs of burlesque performers, Buszek explores how female sex symbols, including Adah Isaacs Menken and Lydia Thompson, fought to exert control over their own images. Buszek analyzes the evolution of the pin-up through the advent of the New Woman, the suffrage movement, fanzine photographs of early film stars, the Varga Girl illustrations that appeared in Esquire during World War II, the early years of Playboy magazine, and the recent revival of the genre in appropriations by third-wave feminist artists. A fascinating combination of art history and cultural history, Pin-Up Grrrls is the story of how women have publicly defined and represented their sexuality since the 1860s.
The Visual is Political examines the growth of feminist photography as it unfolded in Britain during the 1970s and 1980s. This period in Britain was marked by instability following the collapse of the welfare state, massive unemployment, race riots, and workers’ strikes. However, this was also a time in which various forms of social activism emerged or solidified, including the Women’s Movement, whose members increasingly turned to photography as a tool for their political activism. Rather than focusing on the aesthetic quality of the images produced, Klorman-Eraqi looks at the application of feminist theory, photojournalism, advertising, photo montage, punk subculture and aesthetics, and politicized street activity to emphasize the statement and challenge that the photographic language of these works posed. She shows both the utilitarian uses of photography in activism, but also how these same photographers went on to be accepted (or co-opted) into the mainstream art spaces little by little, sometimes with great controversy. The Visual is Political highlights the relevance and impact of an earlier contentious, creative, and politicized moment of feminism and photography as art and activism.
Taking aim at the mostly male bastion of art theory and criticism, Mira Schor brings a maverick perspective and provocative voice to the issues of contemporary painting, gender representation, and feminist art. Writing from her dual perspective of a practicing painter and art critic, Schor’s writing has been widely read over the past fifteen years in Artforum, Art Journal, Heresies, and M/E/A/N/I/N/G, a journal she coedited. Collected here, these essayschallenge established hierarchies of the art world of the 1980s and 1990s and document the intellectual and artistic development that have marked Schor’s own progress as a critic. Bridging the gap between art practice, artwork, and critical theory, Wet includes some of Schor’s most influential essays that have made a significant contribution to debates over essentialism.Articles range from discussions of contemporary women artists Ida Applebroog, Mary Kelly, and the Guerrilla Girls, to "Figure/Ground," an examination of utopian modernism’s fear of the "goo" of painting and femininity. From the provocative "Representations of the Penis," which suggests novel readings of familiar images of masculinity and introduces new ones, to "Appropriated Sexuality," a trenchant analysis of David Salle’s depiction of women, Wet is a fascinating and informative collection. Complemented by over twenty illustrations, the essays in Wet reveal Schor’s remarkable ability to see and to make others see art in a radically new light.
Kathleen McCarthy here presents the first book-length treatment of the vital role middle- and upper-class women played in the development of American museums in the century after 1830. By promoting undervalued areas of artistic endeavor, from folk art to the avant-garde, such prominent individuals as Isabella Stewart Gardner, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller were able to launch national feminist reform movements, forge extensive nonprofit marketing systems, and "feminize" new occupations.