In the past, men were dominant in the art field and initiated the male gaze, where females were seen in the light of a man's perspective. Being the subject of the portrait made women feel objectified, and it hardly was the other way around. As we live in a new age, women get the opportunity to make strong statements of their own. These following artists are a big influence to, not just the art world, but the female race.
Jenny Holzer is an artist who is best known for her LED displays for short statements known as truisms. Holzer often uses words and language rather than images to display thoughts on subjects from war, consumerism to society. Holzer started out posting her truisms anonymously and in public spaces where you might expect to see an advertisement, stock market updates or news She put up billboards, posters, carved truisms in benches and put her messages on condoms and t-shirts. Her work was intended to be viewed alongside other messages you might see on a daily basis and start a debate. From 1977 to 1979 she displayed her truisms all over NYC it was her first public work. She later started a series called Inflammatory Essays, Holzer also began to incorporate other people's writings into her work. Holzer has permanent installations in some galleries and museums. Some of her work has been projected and displayed on monuments in Times Square, Florence, Paris, Berlin as well as Washington D.C. Holzer was the first woman to receive the Leone d'Oro at the Venice Biennale in 1990 and the Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum in 1996 and has several honorary degrees.
Petra Collins is a 20 year old Canadian-born feminist artist, writer, photographer, and director who uses social media to express feminine sexual power and passion. She is known for her controversial Instagram account deletion because her photographs and drawings run counter to what we would expect from mainstream media. Her images express what being a young woman under societal pressures is really like; it makes those who have only experienced representation of the feminine ideal as defined by the male gaze very uncomfortable.Collins is fascinated with teenage life in the suburbs. the isolation and growing pains that that are a sad but true part of the “golden years.” Her audience is Rookie Magazine readers, readers of Vice, and American Apparel junkies and employees alike.
She also critiques the male gaze, and finds female empowerment through menstruation, a theme in her body of works that span to various mediums.
These images a“I know having a social media profile removed is a 21st century privileged problem -- but it is the way a lot of us live. These profiles mimic our physical selves and a lot of the time are even more important. They are ways to connect with an audience, to start discussion, and to create change. Through this removal, I really felt how strong of a distrust and hate we have towards female bodies. The deletion of my account felt like a physical act, like the public coming at me with a razor, sticking their finger down my throat, forcing me to cover up, forcing me to succumb to society's image of beauty. That these very real pressures we face everyday can turn into literal censorship.”-Petra CollinsGynolandscape was a recent event hosted by the Andorous, a female art collective curated by Petra Collins dealing with female sexuality along with American Apparel to help promote their new t-shirts. All of the art in both the Andorous and featured in Gynolandscape are created by women who are fearless in their representation of themselves and other women in unexpected ways running counter to mainstream re shocking as menstruation and the feminine mystique are usually so overtly expressed, yet ignored at the same time.
When Nan Goldin was 11 years old, tragedy plagued her family. Her 18 sister, who continuously suffered from a
mentally disorder, finally gave up her life by lying on the railroad tracks of a local train station. The experience
damaged Goldin and caused her to act rebelliously. As an adolescent, she left her home to live with different foster
families and was given a Polaroid camera and brought it everywhere she went. She recalls, "Somebody I used to
photograph constantly said it was no different from drinking a cup of coffee with me. I mean it became an extension
of me, the camera." (Nan Goldin, Interview by Angelique Chrisafis) When she moved to New York, she befriended
people from the Punk and club scene, and that's where a lot of her art work revealed the life of drugs and alcohol.
Many of her friends in the photographs aren't alive today, including her drag queen friends who've died of AID's.
When reminded of how she was considered someone who placed drug addicts and prostitutes in a position of
power, she responds by saying her and her peers joined that community by choice and weren't narcissistic.
Often times, the commercial world will want to work with her, but she finds it's hard to do, "because people kind
of want me to do a 'Nan Goldin.' They don't understand that it's not about a style or a look or a setup. It's about
emotional obsession and empathy." (Nan Goldin, Interview by Glenn O'Brien) After spending some time in rehab,
Goldin finally sobered up. She comments on how the camera saved her life because it made things bearable for her.
As years have passed, she's finally visited her past, by taking photos in the mental facility where her sister stayed, as
well as the track her her sister died, the tracks that would lead her back to the same place.
Judy Chicago, born Judy Cohen, is a world renowned feminist artist known for her large collaborative art installation pieces which examine the role of women in history and culture. She was one of the most influential feminist artists in the US. By the 1970s, Chicago had coined the term "feminist art" and had founded the first feminist art program in the United States. Chicago's work incorporates skills stereo typically placed upon women artistically, such as needlework, counteracted with stereotypical male skills such as welding and pyrotechnics. Chicago's masterpiece work is The Dinner Party, which is in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum .
Judy Chicago grew up in a very liberal family and was very strongly influenced by her father. Her father, Arthur Cohen, came from a long lineage of rabbi's, and was a labor organizer and a Marxist, and was affiliated with the American Communist Party during the McCarthyism era. As she later told LA Weekly, "I was raised in a family that believed in equal rights for women, which was very unusual for that time. The bad news was they never bothered to tell me that not everyone else believed in that, too." (LA Weekly, What I Learned From Male Chauvinists). After the death of her father and her husband, she chose to change her name to Chicago, rather than following male dominated naming practices.
Her most influential work is The Dinner Party, which, as she describes it, "is a sort of reinterpretation of the last supper from the point of view of those who had done the cooking throughout history" (The Dinner Party: A Tour of the Exhibition). It depicts place settings for 39 mythical and historical women with notable historical accomplishments, each complete with a table runner embroidered with the woman's name and images and symbols relating to her accomplishments, a napkin, utensils, a goblet and a plate. The Dinner Party celebrates traditional female accomplishments such as textile arts (weaving, embroidery, sewing) and china painting, which have been framed as craft or domestic, aka "female", art, as opposed to the more culturally valued, male-dominated fine arts.
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