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Feminist Art and the Avant-Garde It

It has been noted that the artist-driven nature of radical art exhibitions that reigned by the late 1960s, when museum and gallery curators were increasingly usurping the role of the impresario, museums themselves were replacing galleries as venues, and formerly subversive artists were becoming ôtamedö by a ôsociety of mass consumption" (Altshuler, p. 220). While this

statement is undoubtedly true, it is also true that with the emergence of radical feminist art and militant feminist artists in the 1970s, a new spirit of the avant-garde was born. The story of the avant-garde has typically been one of ômutual support among a community and reception of art by a public, all participants enmeshed in systems of personal and economic relations (Altshuler, p. 8).

Feminist art, by its very nature, was a form of confrontation with a complex social world that had previously denigrated womenÆs contributions to the arts (Barzman, p. 327)

Feminist art presented a manifesto and its ôcentral node of (that) confrontation was the exhibition, where artists, critics, dealers, collectors, and the general public met and responded to what the artist had done" (Altshuler, p. 8). One such

exhibition was the 1973 ôWomen Choose Women,ö mounted at the New York Cultural Center to raise the collective consciousness of the various art institutions in New York City after a confrontation a year earlier between the Women in the Arts (WIA) group and the Museum of Modern Art (Lubell, p. 66).

Ellen Lubell (p. 66) pointed out that at the time of the demonstration, the 350 women members of the WIA presented a proposal to each of the major museums in New York City demanding an ôAmazonö show which would display the works of 500 women simultaneously. Only Mario Amaya, the new director of the New York Cultural Center responded positively, enthusiastically endorsing the idea and sitting on the womenÆs selection panel as a consultant with voting...

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