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ARTH408: Contemporary Art

Unit 3: Expanding Fields and Contesting Stereotypes   Following the women’s liberation movement (second-wave feminism) coming on the heels of the civil rights movement and many other liberation and antiwar movements across the globe, many contemporary artists engaged more openly with social issues. In this unit, we will discuss and examine the ways in which contemporary artists associated with feminism used their art as a tool to protest cultural myths and stereotypes. Some of these works challenged preconceived notions of femininity and/or race; the others were focusing on what artists perceived to be isolation and disconnectedness in contemporary world. However, all of them were interested in creating a thought-provoking situation that challenged the viewer. Finally, we will explore how the use of loosely structured, theater-like events—collectively called “performance art”—offered an opportunity to create an interactive, socially responsive work of art, thus making it, in the 1970s, a preferred form of expression for feminists—and not only just them.

Unit 3 Time Advisory
This unit will take you approximately 18 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 3.1: 5 hours
☐    Subunit 3.2: 5 hours
☐    Museum Visit: 3 hours
☐    Writing Assignment: 5 hours

Unit3 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Explain the relationship between different social movements and contemporary artistic practice.
  • Describe and discuss the role and importance of feminist interventions.
  • Identify and explain the main works that represent feminist input.
  • Explain the reasons for the emergence of performance art.
  • Describe and discuss the main characteristics of performance art.
  • Identify the major performance works.
  • Explore differences and similarities between body art, happening, action, and performance art.

3.1 Feminist Intervention   - Reading: Linda Nochlin: “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” Links: Linda Nochlin: “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” (HTML) 

 Instructions: Please revisit the unit on feminism in [ARTH
301](http://www.saylor.org/courses/arth301) (Unit 6), and then read
this entire webpage for an introduction to feminist interventions in
art and culture.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.
  • Reading: The Art History Archive: “Feminism & Feminist Art” Link: The Art History Archive: “Feminism & Feminist Art” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the text for an introduction to the Feminist Art.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.1.1 Betye Saar   - Lecture: The Museum of Contemporary Art: Angela Davis: “Feminism and Contemporary Art and Culture” Link: The Museum of Contemporary Art: Angela Davis: “Feminism and Contemporary Art and Culture” (Adobe Flash)

 Instructions: Please click the links to listen to both parts of
this lecture (approximately 57 minutes total), in which the author
reflects on the importance of feminist ideas and practice in
contemporary art and culture by focusing on Betye Saar’s work.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Web Media: National Public Radio: Renee Montagne: “Life Is a Collage for Artist Betye Saar” Link: National Public Radio: Renee Montagne: “Life Is a Collage for Artist Betye Saar” (Adobe Flash)

    Instructions: Please listen to this entire story (approximately 7 minutes) for an introduction to Saar’s work.  You can also read this story here.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

3.1.2 Judy Chicago   - Web Media: YouTube: Otis College of Art and Design: “A Conversation with Judy Chicago and Suzanne Lacy” Link: YouTube: Otis College of Art and Design: “A Conversation with Judy Chicago and Suzanne Lacy” (YouTube)

 Instructions: Please watch this entire video (approximately 6
minutes) for an introduction to the main ideas and span of activity
of Judy Chicago.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Brooklyn Museum: Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: “The Dinner Party” Link: Brooklyn Museum: Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: “The Dinner Party” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please read this entire webpage and click the links for the five sections to gain information on this monumental example of feminist intervention designed by Judy Chicago.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

3.1.3 Louise Bourgeois   - Reading: The Art Story: “Louise Bourgeois” Link: The Art Story: “Louise Bourgeois” (PDF)

 Instructions: Please read this entire webpage for an introduction
to Louise Bourgeois’s artwork.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Web Media: PBS: Art21: “Identity” Link: PBS: Art21: “Identity” (Adobe Flash) 

    Instructions: Please start watching this video, in which the artist explains her work, at the 39th minute.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.1.4 Eva Hesse   - Web Media: Smarthistory: “Eva Hesse’s Untitled” Link: Smarthistory: “Eva Hesse’s Untitled” (Adobe Flash)

 Instructions: Please watch this entire video (approximately 4
minutes) for an introduction to Eva Hesse’s artwork.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Lecture: iTunes U: Art Institute of Chicago: “Briony Fer on Eva Hesse” Link: iTunes U: Art Institute of Chicago: “Briony Fer on Eva Hesse” (iTunes U)

    Instructions: Please scroll down to #61 and then listen to this entire lecture (approximately 31 minutes) on Eva Hesse’s work.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.1.5 Martha Rosler   - Web Media: YouTube: Martha Rosler: “Semiotics of the Kitchen” Link: YouTube: Martha Rosler: “Semiotics of the Kitchen” (YouTube)

 Instructions: Please watch this entire video (approximately 6
minutes).  Created as a mock instructional video, this illustrates
feminist concerns—albeit in a humorous way.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Web Media: Tate Channel: “Martha Rosler: Talking Art” Link: Tate Channel: “Martha Rosler: Talking Art” (Adobe Flash)

    Instructions: Please watch this entire video (approximately 75 minutes), in which artist Martha Rosler explains her work.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.1.6 Mary Kelly and Post-Partum Document   - Reading: Smarthistory: Rachel Warriner: “Mary Kelly’s Postpartum Document”

Link: Smarthistory: Rachel Warriner: “[Mary Kelly’s Postpartum
Document](http://smarthistory.org/mary-kellys-postpartum-document.html)”
(HTML)  

 Instructions: Please read these entire webpages for an introduction
to Mary Kelly’s art and her artwork Post-Partum Document.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.<span class="Apple-style-span"
style="font-size: 16px; white-space: pre-wrap; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: 'Times New Roman'; ">.</span>

 
  • Web Media: YouTube: Mary Kelly: “Four Works in Dialogue (1973–2010)” Link: YouTube: Mary Kelly: “Four Works in Dialogue (1973–2010)” (YouTube)

    Instructions: Please watch this entire video (approximately 11 minutes), in which Kelly explains the way she was introduced to feminism and discusses Post-Partum Document.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.1.7 Ana Mendieta   - Reading: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden: “Ana Mendieta”

Link: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden: “[Ana
Mendieta](http://www.hirshhorn.si.edu/collection/home/#collection=home&detail=http%3A//www.hirshhorn.si.edu/bio/ana-mendieta-earth-body-sculpture-and-performance-1972-1985-opens-at-hirshhorn-oct-14-2004/)”
(HTML)  

 Instructions: Please read this entire webpage for a biography of
Ana Mendieta.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: UbuWeb: “Ana Mendieta: Selected Film Works” Link: UbuWeb:  “AnaMendieta:SelectedFilmWorks”  (Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions: Please watch this entire video (approximately 34 minutes) for an introduction to Mendieta’s work.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.2 Performance Art   - Reading: Smarthistory: Dr. Virginia B. Spivey: “Performance Art: An Introduction” Link: Smarthistory: Dr. Virginia B. Spivey: “Performance Art: An Introduction” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please read this page as an introduction to
performance art.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.

3.2.1 Chris Burden   - Reading: Artforum: Robert Horvitz: “Chris Burden” Link: Artforum: Robert Horvitz: “Chris Burden

 Instructions: Please read this entire webpage for an introduction
to Chris Burden’s performance art.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Web Media: UbuWeb: Chris Burden: “The TV Commercials 1973-1977” and “Documentation of Selected Works (1971-1974)” Link: UbuWeb: Chris Burden: “The TV Commercials 1973-1977” (Adobe Flash) and “Documentation of Selected Works (1971-1974)” (Adobe Flash)

    Instructions: Please watch these entire videos (approximately 9 minutes and 35 minutes, respectively) for an introduction to Burden’s work.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

3.2.2 Carolee Schneemann   - Web Media: Tate Gallery: Elizabeth Manchester: “Interior Scroll by Carolee Schneemann” Link: Tate Gallery: Elizabeth Manchester: “Interior Scroll by Carolee Schneemann” (HTML)

 Instructions: Please read this entire webpage for an introduction
to Carolee Schneemann’s performance work.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

3.2.3 Vito Acconci   - Reading: Smarthistory: JP McMahon: “Vito Acconci’s Following Piece” Link: Smarthistory: JP McMahon: “Vito Acconci’s Following Piece” (HTML)

 Instruction: Please read this entire webpage for an introduction to
Vito Acconci’s performances.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Web Media: UbuWeb: “Willoughby Sharp Videoviews Vito Acconci” Link: UbuWeb: “Willoughby Sharp Videoviews Vito Acconci” (Adobe Flash)

    Instructions: Please watch this entire video (approximately 62 minutes) for Vito Acconci’s interview by equally important and famous artist, activist, and editor Willoughby Sharp.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Activity: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA): “Betye Saar” Link: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA): “Betye Saar” (Adobe Flash)

    Instructions: Please click the “Launch” button to enjoy a full display of Saar’s works, including her commentary and an interview.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Activity: Betye Saar: Liberation of Aunt Jemima Instructions: Please write an essay explaining in what ways this important artwork by Saar (available in the museum visit) relates to feminist ideas. In your writing, use Linda Nochlin’s essay to help you formulate main ideas and requests originated by feminists in the 1970s.