Feminist Art in the 1970s





Feminist Art in the 1970s

Brief Overview

Feminist art originated from the feminist art movement, which prevailed in the 1960s and the 1970s (Deepwell 11). The art movement sought to recognize the accomplishments and the efforts of feminist artists, who produced art that aimed to reflect upon the lives of women. Another aim was to change the world’s perception of contemporary art. Feminist art largely criticized the gender stereotypes and marginalization of women in the art industry. Women were perceived as people who could not accomplish high levels of artistry, and that their main role was to serve as models in art. Gradually, the perception and type of feminist art changed over the decades (Hogan 91). In the 1960s, feminist art barely addressed feminist issues, but mostly the women were the subjects in the arts, not the artists. The art at the time largely depicted women in a highly sexualized manner (Lind and Brzuzy 181). However, towards the late 1960s and the 1970s, the art began to address feminist issues and criticizing the position of women in the society. Various feminist art pieces have been done by artists such as Judy Chicago, Mary Kelly, and Cindy Sherman, which depict clearly the development of the art. This paper will therefore discuss how three pieces of art from the mentioned artists depict the change in feminist art during the 1970s.

Judy Chicago, Dinner Party, 1975-79

Judy Chicago is a feminist artist, who did an installation artwork called The Dinner Party. Installation art is one of the artistic genres, which are three-dimensional and are placed and designed in a way that transforms the perception of a given space (McTighe 9). This was considered the first epic artwork with a feminist perspective. It has 39 place settings, which have been arranged in a triangular table (Chicago 12). On the arrangement, there are 39 historically famous women. The main goal of this artwork was to bring to an end the exclusion of women in art, as it was common before. This piece was done between 1974 and 1979, meaning it was produced during the era when feminist artists were beginning to shun the stereotypes bestowed upon them by the society.

The 39 plates, which represented various historical female figures lie flat on the table, but gradually rise towards the edge (Murray 199). This depicts the gradual and systematic independence in women that was gained with time. The artist states that the women on the table had to be those who either had tried to improve the lives of other women or had made a notable contribution to the society, among other criteria (Fields 32). Examples of the women include, Marcella who was associated with the rise of Christianity, Virginia Woolf, and Georgia O’Keeffe, who were instrumental in the Age of Revolution. Evidently, the artwork seeks to glorify women, who have been overlooked by the patriarchal society. As mentioned in the introduction, the 1970s feminist art addressed feminist issues and challenged the women position in the society. Similarly, Chicago brings to light the importance of the 39 women in history, as a way of reminding the world that women are equally as important as the men are.

Mary Kelly, Post-Partum Document, 1973-1979

As an educator and feminist artist, Mary Kelly did her artwork titled Post-Partum Document between 1973 and 1979 (Dekel 100). It is also an installation art and is process-based. Process-based work is a form of art movement, which focuses on the process of creating the art, rather than the product. The installations are a six-year documentation of the relationship between her and her son, and the development of their relationship. There are various objects, such as stained nappy liners, woolen vets, diaper linings, and resin slates. The viewer is bale to understand the growth and development of the baby, and the relationship that ensues with the mother. Her artwork received widespread recognition and criticism alike. A great number of people had their reservations about the stained nappy liners.

In the earlier years, the women’s role was solely domestic. However, this art work challenges this notion, as it highlights the importance of a woman in a child’s life. The message being communicated here is that women are very important in children’s live, especially during their early stages of development. This messages aims to nullify the objectification of women as sex objects, which was the idea behind the development of feminist art in the 1970s.

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Stills, 1977-80
Sherman specialized in photography as a form of art. Her works principally focused on the construction and development of identity especially in the subject. In her Untitled Film Stills, she did a collection of about 70 photographs, which were all taken in a span of three years (Respini et al. 262). The various photographs portray women playing various roles, such as a vamp, an executive, among others. These images created manifest the cinematic expectations of the dress code and the scenery from the 1950s and the 1970s. The subjects in her work have ambiguous emotions, which is unlike the normal film stills, which are for commercial purposes.

The female subjects in her film stills have various alter egos, who embody different careers and personalities. Feminist art sought to challenge the perception of women in the society, especially mothers (Liss 16). As mentioned earlier, women were seen as inferior compared to the men, and unable to take up more roles. The films stills suggest otherwise, denoting the women as individuals who are talented and can be anyone they choose to be, especially in the corporate world.


Works Cited:

Chicago, Judy. The Dinner Party. London: Merrell, 2007. Print.

Deepwell, Katy. Feminist Art Manifestos. London: KT Press, 2014. Print.

Dekel, Tal. Gendered. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013. Print.

Fields, Jill. Entering The Picture. New York: Routledge, 2012. Print.

Hogan, Susan. Revisiting Feminist Approaches To Art Therapy. New York: Berghahn Books, 2012. Print.

Lind, Amy, and Stephanie Brzuzy. Battleground. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2008. Print.

Liss, Andrea. Feminist Art And The Maternal. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009. Print.

McTighe, Monica E. Framed Spaces. Hanover: Dartmouth College Press, 2012. Print.

Murray, Chris. Key Writers On Art. London: Routledge, 2005. Print.

Respini, Eva et al. Cindy Sherman. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2012. Print.

Calculate your order
275 words
Total price: $0.00

Top-quality papers guaranteed


100% original papers

We sell only unique pieces of writing completed according to your demands.


Confidential service

We use security encryption to keep your personal data protected.


Money-back guarantee

We can give your money back if something goes wrong with your order.

Enjoy the free features we offer to everyone

  1. Title page

    Get a free title page formatted according to the specifics of your particular style.

  2. Custom formatting

    Request us to use APA, MLA, Harvard, Chicago, or any other style for your essay.

  3. Bibliography page

    Don’t pay extra for a list of references that perfectly fits your academic needs.

  4. 24/7 support assistance

    Ask us a question anytime you need to—we don’t charge extra for supporting you!

Calculate how much your essay costs

Type of paper
Academic level
550 words

How to place an order

  • Choose the number of pages, your academic level, and deadline
  • Push the orange button
  • Give instructions for your paper
  • Pay with PayPal or a credit card
  • Track the progress of your order
  • Approve and enjoy your custom paper

Ask experts to write you a cheap essay of excellent quality

Place an order