What's So Feminist about the Feministische Kunst Internationaal? Critical Directions in 1970s Feminist Art

By Wentrack, Kathleen | Frontiers - A Journal of Women's Studies, May 2012 | Go to article overview

What's So Feminist about the Feministische Kunst Internationaal? Critical Directions in 1970s Feminist Art


Wentrack, Kathleen, Frontiers - A Journal of Women's Studies


In 1978, when the first installation of the Feministische Kunst Internationaal (International Feminist Art, or FKI) exhibition opened in Amsterdam, it was enthusiastically embraced by its participants--women artists from throughout Europe and the United States. However, its critical reception remains mixed, not least because it was not truly "international." Some perceived a dominance of issues raised in the work of the American participants, with all too frequent references to earlier appearances of feminist concepts in art in the United States than in most European countries. Perhaps more significant are the issues raised around the quality, subject matter, and execution of the work. Paradoxically, the exhibition is virtually unknown by American art historians despite its groundbreaking status for European women artists. Other elements adding to the conflicting position of the show were the heated debates that developed between some European and American feminist art activists over what constituted a "feminist" art (as well as the implication that all women artists must concern themselves with such issues) and the question of whether work should be judged by new standards of quality. This most important European exhibition of feminist art of the decade demanded that the work elicit a feminist content. Thus, this essay will reexamine the curatorial choices that shaped the character of the exhibition to reveal how feminist art was understood at this late-1970s moment and to expand our understanding of how some European artists, art historians, and curators defined and debated feminist art in this era.

CONTEXT: THE ADVENT OF THE WOMEN'S MOVEMENT

Guided by the actions of women's movements, feminist art developed as a recognizable force in the 19705. Diverse in its manifestations, the feminist art movements of the 197os generally worked toward greater recognition of work by contemporary women artists and those of the past, while protesting the lack of support from, and representation in, galleries, museums, art schools, and other art world institutions. A new awareness and valuation of traditional art making by women, which was conventionally relegated to the distinctly separate and less valued realm of craft, took place. Moreover, performance art and video attracted feminist artists of the period as they represented new mediums free of male-dominated styles and traditions. These endeavors often incorporated the consciousness-raising efforts of the new women's movements throughout the United States and Europe, For the purposes of this study feminist art can be defined as, but not limited to, artwork that exposes the prejudices against women in society, challenges representations of women in art, engages feminist issues or theory, critiques sociohistorical concepts of femininity, develops new media as a feminist trope, or presents new ways of working with traditional art materials. These general directions in feminist art practice in no way mean that there is or was agreement on what constituted a feminist art. Rather, questions over what was permissible or could be referred to as feminist were debated from the beginning in the United States and Europe. Furthermore, this project aims to build on what art historian Marsha Meskimmon calls a "critical global cartography of 1970s feminist art" in which a spatial, rather than temporal, history of feminist art would be produced and the dominance of Anglo-American scholarship on feminist art problematized. (1)

The years 1970 through 1974 marked the most active political period in the US art world with respect to women's issues--a time of strikes, marches, and protest letters. (2) Women artists challenged the status quo in the art world by establishing new education programs for women and alternative exhibition venues that often functioned as spaces for lectures and debate. (3) By the mid-1970s the prevalence of the feminist art movement in the United States contrasted with the less visible movement in many European countries, as the German art historian Anette Kubitza noted in 1996: "Although European artists often work together in groups or on special projects, and although there have been some landmark exhibitions of feminist art in Europe, there has not been a close-knit women's art community there. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

What's So Feminist about the Feministische Kunst Internationaal? Critical Directions in 1970s Feminist Art
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.