Surprisingly, the word first appeared in the mid 19th century and must be linked to the Suffragette movement.
It was only fifty years ago that, lifted by the feminist activism of the 1960s and 1970s, women became permanently and centrally involved in art theory and practice. It was in that context, that American art historian Linda Nochlin first applied the renewed feminist perspective to art history, with her now legendary article „Why Have There Been No Great Woman Artists?“, published in Artnews in 1971. This article initiated an ongoing recovering of female artist, which were undervalued and ignored.
In 1981, Griselda Pollock and Rozsika Parker published Old Mistresses: Woman, Art and Ideology“ which shifted the discussion away from looking at the exclusion of female artists towards a dismantling of what they still perceived as a dominantly male canon. In 1994 they asked the poignant question: „Can art history survive feminism?“
Now, almost half a century into the debate, we still find ourselves counting statistics of percentages of female participations in the art market in art institutions and exhibitions. To me, at this point, it seems relevant to look at the strategies at the artistic languages that were invented by female artists in the paradigm-shifting decades oft he 1960s and 1970s in order to see how these languages resonate today. Undoubtedly what connects them all, is their courage and outstanding achievements, they ARE sheroes.
I chose to add the # to the title, not only to make a tongue in cheek reference to the fashionableness of the subject, (it is all over Instagram), but also to refer to the connectedness and international cross references that one can find between the various artistic positions. The choice of American, Latin American and European artist reflects the galleries current radius of activities. Another non Western and Afro-American selection might follow.
Jo Baer (*1929/USA) is a key figure of the Minimalism scene in NY of the 1960s. In the mid 1970s she announced her leaving Minimalism in her polarizing article „Why I am no longer an Abstract Artist“. She went to Ireland and turned to what she then called „Radical Figuration“. Her most recent series of paintings „The Land of The Giants“ was presented at the Whitney Biennial in 2017.
Teresa Burga (*1935/Peru) is the most influential Peruvian artist of early Peruvian Pop as part of the Arte Nuevo Group as well as later Conceptual Art. After a hiatus of almost 30 years, her work was presented at Istanbul Biennial, Venice Biennial and most recently at the Radical Woman show touring from the Hammer Museum LA to Brooklyn Museum NY, to Pinakotheka in Sao Paulo. Burgas retrospective toured from the Migros Museum Zürich to the Kestner Gesellschaft in Hannover in 2018.
Judy Chicago (*1939/USA) is an icon of American feminist art, having played a central role in feminist art practice, she organized the famous installation „The Womanhouse“ in 1972 in California. The Dinner Party ( 1974-1979) her most iconic artwork celebrates women throughout history and is permanently installed at the Brooklyn Museum in NY.
Together with Teresa Burga, they both received the honorary doctorate of the Art Institute Chicago in 2017.
Beatriz González (*1938/Kolumbien) Growing up in Colombia in the 1940s and 50s, during an era of political unrest known as La Violencia (The Violence), González became a pivotal figure in the Latin-American art scene. In the late 1950s, González established an artistic practice strongly influenced by icon painting, art-historical motifs, local styles, and mass media. Since then, González’ work has been concerned with everyday scenes, public protest rituals, and scenes of collective pain in her home country, Colombia. The artist broke with the anonymous, impersonal style of Pop Art by addressing political events from the country’s recent history through personal and intimate matters. Gonzalez recently showed a large retrospective at Kunstwerke Berlin (2018) as well as at the PAMM in Miami, (2019). She was presented at the last documenta in Kassel.
Anne-Mie van Kerckhoven (*1951/ Belgium) working across historical boundaries and artistic disciplines, Anne-Mie van Kerckhoven explores different ways of describing the world, which she locates between the anti-these of eros and ratio. In terms of content, this is linked on the one hand to concepts oft he sexualized female body and on the other hand to a technoid algorithmic logic; formally this tension manifests itself in both computer generated and hand drawn images. Her work was recently presented at the touring retrospective of Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, Kunstverein Hannover, MHKA Antwerp and Fridericianum Kassel.
Anna Oppermann (1940-1993/Germany) is a key figure of German Conceptual Art and Post-Conceptual Art.
In the sixties, she developed her radial open and dialogical language. Her intricate assemblages of drawings, photographs and objects grew into large-scale over-boarding installations, for which the artist coined the phrase „Ensemble“. Currently her early works which preceded the ensembles and consisted of single images is being brought to greater attention. It is currently presented at Kunsthalle Bielefeld as well as at the Carpenter Centre for Visual Arts in Boston.
Barbara Rossi (*1940/USA)Rossi first exhibited her work in late-1960s Chicago where she became associated with the Chicago Imagists, a group of young artists known for their shared interest in non-Western and popular imagery, their pursuit of vivid and distorted figurative work, and their fondness for comic gags or puns. Rossi’s disorienting compositions, however, remain idiosyncratic even among an eclectic set of peers. Rossi turned inward to find a visual language independent of contemporary tendencies and art historical traditions. By the rules of a self-devised method, she started each work without any compositional plan and adopted an open and introspective process that allowed her “magic drawings” to emerge, unconsciously, through one form at a time.
Regina Vater (*1943, Brasil)
In a research that encompasses the relationship between society, nature and technology, Regina Vater has developed a complex and sophisticated body of work over the last four decades that contributes significantly to the debate on the emergence of media ecology in the areas of art and contemporary life. The poetic, activist and ecological nature of her work has always been woven into trans-media impulses, where the language of each work presents itself as a further development of the artist interests. It is from these relations that emerge some of her reflections on the cultural constructions around the female body. Because of this, it is impossible not to mention her figure as protagonist within a whole generation of Brazilian women artists who conquered their institutional space, travelled, debated and persevered in a circuit still so dominated by men.