10 Famous Feminist Artworks

Anita Steckel — the artist who “always felt a tension between being a woman who liked men and being an artist who chafed at the limits that men had historically placed on women” — died several weeks ago, according to a new report from the New York Times. The Brooklyn-born feminist artist was known for her erotic artworks, unabashedly depicting the male nude form, which created a controversy in the 1970s. In response, Steckel started an all-female art collective known as the Fight Censorship Group. It included notables such as Louise Bourgeois and Hannah Wilke. The Times shares part of Steckel’s mission statement for the group. The manifesto concludes with:

“If the erect penis is not wholesome enough to go into museums it should not be considered wholesome enough to go into women. And if the erect penis is wholesome enough to go into women then it is more than wholesome enough to go into the greatest art museums.”

The pioneering artist is best known for her humorous, but poignant, painted photo montages and self-portraits, depicting Steckel as a nude, King Kong-sized woman straddling a New York City skyscraper, conquering the phallic skyline. In memory of Steckel — and since we’ve been chatting about a few other cultural elderstateswomen today — we wanted to take a look at several famous feminist artworks. These are just a few of the groundbreaking contributions that opened up a dialogue about feminist concerns, sexism, sexuality, and more. Tell us who else belongs on the list in the comments below, after checking out our gallery past the break.

[Image credit: JoetheLion]

Judy Chicago, The Dinner Party 

Created between 1974 and 1979 (with the help of several hundred volunteers), Judy Chicago’s mixed media installation The Dinner Party consists of several colossal, banquet-style tables. Included are 39 different place settings for mythical and historical women, celebrating their cultural achievements. Each place setting features a unique butterfly/flower-like sculpture rising from the plates, meant to symbolize a vulva. There are 999 names of other important women inscribed amongst the installation.

“Do I still hope that feminist art can make a difference in the world? My answer is yes. I continue to believe that we need an art that can help us see the world through other people’s eyes and thereby lead us to a future where the world will be made at least a little more whole.”