Contemporary Art As An Integral Part Of Feminist Movement

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It is well known that the imprint of feminism has had a lasting impact on our culture and continues to be one of the most influential topics around the globe. There have been countless methods that have been used to bring attention to issues in such an advancing world. However, I believe one of the most prominent ways is through the influence of contemporary art. As famously said by Andrea Dworkin, ‘Feminist art will take the great human themes – love, death, heroism, suffering, history itself – and render them fully human’. Contemporary art or expressionism has become the art of the 21st century, introspection of this art form can be incorporated to benefit the active goals for various feminist campaigns around the world. The importance of contemporary art is essential for the feminist movement as it allows the expression of emotion in its raw form, expands the definition of art and sheds light on themes of discrimination in our past.

Feminist art first emerged in the 1960s during the time of several movements and political campaigns. Their goal as artists was to change the way certain things were perceived. They were known to challenge stereotypes and transform society’s attitudes toward culture and gender. Of course, there are many methods or reasons to convey the significance of feminism, but the primary reason that was meant to stand out in the minds of individuals is the emotional aspect of this artistic action. From Van Gogh to Frida Kahlo, all great artists have shown important moments of their personal lives through their artwork. Many feminists throughout history prove that an art piece is more than a visual aesthetic that is to be admired; it is meant to create a connection between the viewer and the creator. One of the most substantial female artists named Louise Bourgeois is a prime example of feminist art in action. Her work was heavily influenced by the psychological effects of her childhood. Louise was able to take a moment in her life and turn it into abstract imagery to represent her feelings. She describes her actions as ‘a work of art that does not need an explanation. The work had to speak for itself. The work may be subject to many interpretations, but only one was in the mind of the artist’. She was known for using objects such as spiders, spirals, and cages to symbolize the female psyche and beauty. This justifies that emotion is a fundamental aspect of the recognition of art forms, and aids in the perception of artwork and portrays the effect of the movement. It is proven through not only female but male artists, that without a viewer having an emotional response there is no propitious way to understand the meaning of their work. Artists similar to Louise Bourgeois prove that emotion through art is associated with the purpose of aesthetic expression and it truly displays the artist’s natural intuitive state of mind derived from life experiences in its raw form.

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Art has always been sensed in a particular way, it is known as an expression of creativity in a visual form. It is primarily referred to as stimulation to your sight where you can observe the work in front of you. As previously mentioned, feminist art has a different narrative to express to its viewers, rather than paintings being an optical appeal it can be turned into something more meaningful. If you were to compare an occurrence in our past and present, stereotypes played a big role in many factors of daily life. For example, ‘the average age of first marriages for women in the 1960s was 23.3, compared with the present, the age is 30; the average woman in 1964 had 2.95 children in her lifetime, while in the 21st century she has 1.95’. It was a type of second nature where there was an established routine for women to follow, stay at home, cook and clean. Painting by Jacques- Louis David named The Lictors Bringing to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons for Burial is an exact example of the gender roles during the nineteenth century where men are masculine and women are portrayed distressed and weeping to the side. This is a neoclassical creation done by a man in 1789 and if this painting was compared to a more recent one done by a woman, different features would be instantly apparent. To elaborate further, another famous artwork by artist Judy Chicago highlights these variations. Her 1979 installation named The Dinner Party was created to assert an underlying theme which was the strength of feminism. It shows the impact of feminist action and the unity it created among women and men. It soon became clear to commentators on the meaning behind her work and elaborates on the reality women have lived in the past. To this day it is one of the most valuable portrayals of feminism and has been highlighted as a method for self-expression as it delves deeper into the lives of women and exposes a narrative in a manner that was never regarded before. Many other pieces of art share similar meaning that has brought people closer as the years have passed by.

The role of women has been altered drastically throughout the years, society has evolved from old fashioned customs to a modern way of living. Many artistic materials are proof of these various cases that occurred in our history and remain as a reminder of the past. It is no secret that there was a lot of discrimination in the lives of the women for many years, there has been a countless number of resistances and demonstrations that have occurred to address the conflicts that were experienced and art was one of them. Art forms express the historical significance of feminism as originally they were used as propaganda to shed light on the way women were treated. During this period, women could take custody of their identity and influence change in the world. Feminist art was a critical part of this time as it affirms gender differences and allows individuals to effect change. Before the 1960s it is evident that many women artists were struggling to thrive in the male-dominated art industry. This is primarily because they were reduced to stereotypical aspects in their daily lives which prevented them from having a distinguished career. It is a well-known fact that the proportion of women’s earnings compared to men was only 54.8% during the 1960s. A historical timeline is a proof that artwork from our past was a reflection of the demonstrations of many civil rights movements. A pre-eminent moment in history that clarifies this is the Women’s Suffrage in the early 1960s where art was used as a means to take a political stand, it was used as visual publicity in the form of banners and posters to instill the objective of their campaign. An article written by The Guardian exemplifies this further as they mention the positive effects of the Suffrage and how ‘1963 changed a lot, but the next 50 years starts now’. Overall, this further indicates the relevance of feminist diversity and the role of artists in our history correlated with the significance of their work. There have been countless examples that show beyond doubt that feminist art had a lasting change on our history and continues to have an impact to this day in its modern form.

In summary, the idea of feminism has influentially been altered one day at a time. It opens up new beliefs and intentions to familiarize people with the notion of unity among women and men. Resistances and socio-political movements from our past and present have led to periods of change and good spirits. This topic reinstates the perspicacity of art and instills a more meaningful image of the beauty behind an artist’s work. It exemplifies their personal life and the struggles they had to overcome. This period of change is modeled by unfiltered emotion, a diverging message of feminism and discrimination through an artist’s contemporary work. All in all, this signifies the power of actions done with integrity and honesty and demonstrates the impression of the artworks.


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