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American, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 19 January 1964, in Freeport, Bahamas.

Sculptor, performance artist, installation artist, photographer.


Janine Antoni studied at Sarah Lawrence College, New York, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1986, and the Rhode Island School of Design, where she received a master's degree in sculpture in ...


Saisha Grayson

(b Abington, PA, 1955).

American installation artist. Upon graduating from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, where she studied printmaking and painting, Apfelbaum moved to New York City in 1978. Apfelbaum consistently found ways to trouble the distinctions between painting, sculpture, craft, and installation-based practices, and between pure abstraction and a range of conceptual and cultural allusions. Such productive tensions abound in the ‘fallen paintings’ for which she is best known, which feature fabrics meticulously shaped and arranged in floor-bound compositions with titles that reference everything from Disney characters to punk bands to Italian cinema. Playfully poking fun at art historical taboos and tastes, her work is often addressed as a feminist, post-modernist response to Minimalism that embraces the emotional, the psychological, the ephemeral, and the sociopolitical potential of abstraction.

Apfelbaum’s first floor installation, Daisy Chain (1989), presented carved wooden shapes appropriated from an Andy Warhol silkscreen, which in turn had appropriated its graphics from a Scandinavian Airlines ticket, a chain of references inferred by the title, which itself invites associations. As in later work, its accumulated elements can simultaneously be appreciated from above as a pictorial composition, walked around like a sculpture, and experienced temporally and spatially as an installation. In ...


American, 20th century, female.

Born 1929, in New York.

Painter, draughtswoman. Artists’ books.

Pop Art, Identity Art (Feminist Art).

Ida Applebroog studied at the New York Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She lived briefly in California, teaching at the University of California, San Diego, and exhibiting her sculptures locally (as Ida Horowitz). After moving to New York in ...


American, 20th century, female.

Born 30 July 1939, in Chicago.

Painter, sculptor, installation artist.

Identity Art (Feminist Art).

Judy Chicago studied at the school of the Art Institute of Chicago, receiving a BFA in 1962, and at the University of California in Los Angeles, earning an MFA in 1964. She pioneered feminist art in the USA, taking for herself the surname of Chicago as a protest against patriarchal naming practices. She set up the first feminist art programme at Fresno State College in 1970. She also worked in collaboration with Miriam Schapiro. A graduate of the University of California, she lives and works in Belen (New Mexico). She teaches in American universities, and has received many distinctions and awards. Her main themes are feminism and sexuality. She first and foremost sought to bring about in her paintings a specifically 'feminine' artistic vision. Her well-known installation ...


American, 20th century, female.

Born 1933, in East Chicago, Indiana.

Performance artist, painter, photographer, feminist activist.

WAC (Women’s Action Coalition).

Mary Beth Edelson is a pioneer feminist art practitioner and a socially engaged artist. Along with Carolee Schneeman, Judy Chicago, and Rachel Rosenthal, Edelson is categorised as a ‘first-generation feminist artist’. Art is the conduit of her political convictions. A prolific artist and author, Edelson is known for ritual performative and participatory works, large-scale collage installations and boxed assemblage, murals, photography, sculpture, drawing, and printing.

Edelson attended DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana and graduated in 1955. A defining moment in the artist’s early career occurred during the senior-year student exhibition when faculty members removed her paintings from the show on the grounds that the works were deemed ‘degrading…to ministers and small children [sic]’. As a campus-wide protest grew so did the artist’s conviction to challenge traditional ideas of conventionality and authority....


American, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 18 June 1960, in New York City.

Performance artist, writer, art historian, curator. Multimedia, video, film, Internet art. Multiculturalism, feminism.

Coco Fusco studied semiotics at Brown University (1982) and received a MA in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University (...


Austrian, 20th century, female.

Born 10 April 1949, in Vienna; died 25 September 2003, in Vienna.

Photographer, painter, graphic artist, curator, teacher.

Feminist, body art, portraiture.

Exposed to art by her parents at a young age, Birgit Jürgenssen sketched modern paintings in her notebooks as a child, recalling later: ‘The way I remember it, I started to draw stories at the age of 8 or 9 … Among my parent’s circle of friends were a few artists and lebenskuenstler. The stories they would tell us about them, about the big Picasso exhibition back then in Paris and a Paul Klee book at home, aroused my curiosity so I tried to draw after absolutely everything I liked thematically.’ After secondary school, Jürgenssen travelled to France where she immersed herself in French literature and theatre, devouring the work of Anton Artaud and the Surrealists. In 1968, she enrolled in the University of Applied Arts in Vienna where she studied graphics with Professor Franz Herberth. Upon graduation in ...


Monica Majoli

(b Shreveport, LA, 1948).

American painter, photographer, and video artist. Minter received her MFA from Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, in 1972. She produced a series of paintings from the late 1970s that mined the banal quotidian in virtuosic, conceptually driven photorealistic oil paintings featuring affectless expanses of grey linoleum floor as a backdrop for plywood, aluminium foil, and coffee stains in nearly abstract compositions. By 1989 Minter began using her signature imagery of the female body severely cropped, often for erotic effect, either using hardcore pornography as source material or eliciting references to pornographic imagery as a subtext in self-staged photographic shoots. A master of surface and illusion, Minter’s enamel paintings on aluminum belie their photographic source material, created at first hand by Minter and reconfigured in Photoshop from as many as 20 or 30 darkroom negatives. Idiosyncratically, the final layer of sticky enamel paint is finessed by fingertip to obscure brush marks—the fingerprints are revealed on close observation. Insisting on the triumph of the body over its image in this overt indexical trace, Minter restated the tactile nature of painting itself just as she used photography to capture her subject and shock her spectator. The Baroque period is cited as a historical precursor of Minter’s oeuvre, revelling as it does in passion over rationality, shimmering, gilded excess, and monumental compositional undulations reminiscent of flesh itself and its urges. Like painters of the 17th century, Minter also employed a studio of artists who assisted her in creating all facets of her production, a system of making she employed from ...


Polish, 20th century, female.

Born 1945, in Grodzisk Mazowiecki, Poland.

Feminist activist, photographer, filmmaker.

Performing art, mail art.

Ewa Partum, a pioneer of the feminist discourse under Poland’s communist regime, studied at the State Higher School of Fine Arts, Łódź, and at the Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw. It was at the Academy that the artist grew disillusioned with the limitations of paint as a medium. During this period, she acquired a keen interest in linguistics and poetry as art. Subsequently, Partum pursued a life-long quest to develop an alternative artistic language. The artist’s primary tools of artistic expression are performance, filmmaking, and text.

Partum’s most celebrated work Active Poetry (1971), a linguistic action meta-poetry film, was inspired by the text of Marcel Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time) and public sign typeface used under the Polish communist regime. The performative concept of the work is a form of planned coincidence installation where text from the novel is deconstructed. Letters from words culled from the text are cut out and rendered in a font associated with political oppression. Once liberated from the author’s initial intent, the mound of letters is scattered to the wind in nature. A participatory exercise, the letters are meant to be picked up at random and recontextualised in new words and sentences. In these instances, the artist not only offers her work to the audience but invites them to participate. Throughout the course of her career, the artist has returned to and developed the theme of meta-poetry to question political, institutional, and patriarchal oppression....


American, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 20 September 1948, in New York.

Draughtswoman, performance artist, installation artist, collage artist.

Conceptual Art, Identity Art (Feminist Art).

Adrian Margaret Piper was a student at the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1966. In 1970 she enrolled at the City College, New York, and was awarded a Doctorate in Philosophy at Harvard in ...


American, 20th–21st century, female.

Born 12 October 1939, in Fox Chase (Pennsylvania).

Performance artist, assemblage artist, installation artist, video artist. Multimedia.

Neo-Dadaism, Feminist Art, Body Art.

Carolee Schneemann received a BA from Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, and an MFA from the University of Illinois. She also studied at Columbia University School of Painting and Sculpture, New York; the New School for Social Research; and Universidad de Puebla, Mexico. She has taught at the University of Illinois (...


American, 20th–21st century, female.

Born 19 January 1954 , in Glen Ridge (New Jersey).

Photographer, filmmaker. Figures, portraits.

Neo-Conceptual Art, Appropriation Art (Simulationism), Identity Art (Feminist Art).

In 1972, Cindy Sherman enrolled at the State University of New York at Buffalo, first focusing on painting before discovering the expressive potential in photography. While in college, Sherman began to formulate characters. At first a personal exploration of identity, the characters became the basis of her photographic art. Sherman’s early works were influenced by conceptual and performance artists such as Lynda Benglis and Vito Acconci. To create her photographs, Sherman works alone, acting as model, makeup artist, costume designer, and photographer. Her characters are often suggested to the artist through experimentation with costume, props, and prosthetics that alter and even distort her appearance.

Sherman moved to New York City in 1977 and began work on her first major series. Known as Untitled Film Stills...


British, 20th–21st century, female.

Born 1947, in London.

Collage, video, sculpture.

Penny Slinger is known for her surrealist perspective on sexual liberation and self-transgression. She came of age during the 1960s sexual liberation, which has strongly influenced her artistic practice. Singer’s body of work consists of many different mediums including collage, video, and sculpture. She now lives in California.

Slinger graduated from the Chelsea College of Art in 1969, with a thesis based on the work of Max Ernst. Her close relationship with the artist can be credited for the influence European Surrealism plays in her work. Slinger combines the Surrealist’s exploration of self-transgression with subject matter prevalent in the radical counter-culture movements of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as Ancient Egyptian and Tantric mythology and imagery.

The artist first started working with collage novels after making a film homage to Max Ernst’s novel Une Semaine de Bonté (...


British, 20th century, female.

Born 1934, in London; died 1992, in London.

Photographer, activist, educator.

Jo Spence left school at the age of 13 and enrolled in secretarial college. It was her secretarial position at the small commercial photographers Photo Coverage that first ignited her passion for the medium. Spence subsequently completed a training course at Kodak and gained experience through a number of support roles for photographers including Walter Curtin. From humble beginnings she became a highly vocal, radical, and influential figure in photography. Throughout her life Spence was also active as a writer, activist, and educator and preferred to be known as a ‘cultural sniper’. Throughout her career Spence made contributions to a huge range of genres and inspired other artists to rethink the portrayal of sexuality, family, and class through the photographic image.

In 1967, Spence opened her own photographic portrait studio in Hampstead specializing in weddings and family portraits and creating portfolios for professional use. In the early 1970s, Spence became involved with the Children’s Rights Workshop, through which she began to challenge the conventions associated with photographing children in domestic photography. During this time she met photographer Terry Dennett who would become her partner and a long-term collaborator. Together they documented marginalized communities such as the Traveller community living under the Westway Bridge in west London....


American, 20th century, female.

Born 24 August 1926, in Cleveland.

Painter, draughtsman, collage artist, installation artist. Figures.

Identity Art (Feminist Art).

During the 1950s, Nancy Spero was a student at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she met the painter Leon Golub, whom she later married. In ...


American, 20th century, female.

Born 9 June 1924, in Boston.

Painter. Contemporary art, feminism, political art, civil rights. Figures, people, historical subjects, current events.

May Stevens studied at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 1946 and the Art Students League in New York in 1948. She met the artist Rudolf Baranik at the Art Students League and they were married, had a son, and lived together until Baranik’s death in 1998. The couple also shared a studio in New York until 1997 and then relocated to New Mexico in 1998. Shortly after their marriage, Baranik and Stevens went to Paris and Stevens studied at the Academie Julian. In 1960, Stevens earned her Master of Fine Arts equivalency from the New York Department of Education and taught secondary education to support herself and her family while also maintaining her painting career. Stevens also taught part-time at The School of Visual Arts in New York from ...


American, 20th–21st century, female.

Born 1945, in Washington, DC.


Feminism, photorealism.

Betty Tompkins grew up in Philadelphia and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from Syracuse University in New York and her Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from Washington State College in Ellensburg, Washington. Tompkins lives and works in New York and Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania.

Heralded as a photorealist painter, Tompkins began her infamous career just after graduate school with the series of works titled Fuck Paintings from 1969 through 1974. In the series, Tompkins sourced imagery from her then-husband’s collection of black-and-white vintage pornography mail ordered from Canada because it was illegal to mail in the United States. The painstakingly airbrushed, photorealist phalluses, vaginas, tongues, and fingers retain their shock value even today. Censored in Paris in 1973 and impounded in Tokyo as pornography in 2005, Tompkins’s paintings provoked ire on all sides, from first-wave feminists who decried their depictions of heteronormative intercourse essentialist and exploitative of the female sex workers who posed for the photos, to conservative viewers who despaired of what they defined as blatant pornography displayed in public....


Vietnamese, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 1952, in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Film-maker, writer, composer. Feminism, race, post-colonialism, diaspora.

Trinh T. Minh-ha studied piano and music composition at the National Conservatory of Music and Theater in Saigon and comparative literature at the University of Saigon before migrating to the United States in 1970. She took up further studies in music composition, ethno-musicology, and French literature at the University of Illinois, where she received her M.F.A.s and Ph.D. She also studied at the Wilmington College in Ohio and at the Université de Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV). From 1977 to 1981, she did ethnographic field research in West Africa that led to her first film, Reassemblage, which was shot in Senegal. She has written a number of books, including the seminal Woman, Native, Other in 1989, as well as collaborated with the architect Jean-Paul Bourdier on two books, African Spaces: Designs for Living in Upper Volta...


Polish, 20th century, female.

Born 23 April 1941, in Wroclaw.

Painter, sculptor, mixed media, poet.

Art Brut.

Léna Vandrey settled in Provence in 1958, having lived since the end of World War II in Germany. She was part of the feminist movement and her work is, by her own admission, 'intended to imbue women with a sense of their own history'....


American, 20th century, female.

Born 7 March 1940, in Butler (New York); died 28 January 1993, in Houston, of cancer.

Sculptor (mixed media), photographer, painter, installation artist, performance artist.

Feminist Art.

Hannah Wilke studied at Tyler School of Fine Arts, Temple University, Philadelphia, obtaining a bachelor of science and a bachelor of fine arts degree in ...