1st Edition

Iconic Works of Art by Feminists and Gender Activists Mistress-Pieces

Edited By Brenda Schmahmann Copyright 2021
    278 Pages 15 Color & 47 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    278 Pages 15 Color & 47 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    278 Pages 15 Color & 47 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    In this book, contributors identify and explore a range of iconic works – "Mistress-Pieces" – that have been made by feminists and gender activists since the 1970s. The first volume for which the defining of iconic feminist art is the raison d’être, its contributors interpret a "Mistress-Piece" as a work that has proved influential in a particular context because of its distinctiveness and relevance.

    Reinterpreting iconic art by Alice Neel, Hannah Wilke and Ana Mendieta, the authors also offer important insights about works that may be less well known – those by Natalia LL, Tanja Ostojić, Swoon, Clara Menéres, Diane Victor, Usha Seejarim, Ilse Fusková, Phaptawan Suwannakudt □and Tracey Moffatt, among others. While in some instances revealing cross influences between artists working in different frameworks, the publication simultaneously makes evident how social and political factors specific to particular countries had significant impact on the making and reception of art focused on gender.

    The book will be of interest to scholars working in art history, visual studies and gender studies.


    Brenda Schmahmann

    Part I: Reconfiguring Domestic Life 

    1. The Aesthetic Labour of Protest, Now and Then: The Women’s Peace Camp at Greenham Common (1981-2000)

    Alexandra Kokoli

    2. "Middle fingers up, put them hands high": Rethinking Tracey Moffatt’s Scarred for Life (1994)

    Jacqueline Millner and Catriona Moore

    3. Bodies, Borders, and Law: Tanja Ostojić’s Looking for a Husband with EU Passport (2000-05)

    Hilary Robinson

    4. Household Matters: Usha Seejarim’s Venus at Home (2012) and the Politics of Women’s Work

    Brenda Schmahmann

    Part II: Critiquing Gender Violence and Abuse 

    5. Hannah Wilke’s S.O.S. Starification Object Series (1974-82) in the Era of #MeToo

    Marissa Vigneault

    6. Private Trauma, Public Healing: Hannan Abu Hussein’s The Vagina Series (begun 2002)

    Tal Dekel

    7. Transgressive Martyrs in Diane Victor’s Wise and Foolish Virgins (2008)

    Karen von Veh

    8. Swoon’s Medea (2017) as a Feminist Intervention: Re-producing the Maternal

    Paula J. Birnbaum

    Part III: Great Goddess Iconographies

    9. Ana Mendieta’s Silueta Series (1973-80): In and Out of Feminism

    Sherry Buckberrough

    10. Clara Menéres’ Woman-Earth-Life (1977) and the Politics of Censorship, Concealment and Vandalism

    Laura Castro

    11. The Female Body and Spirituality in Ilse Fusková’s El Zapallo (1982) Series

    María Laura Rosa

    Part IV: Body Politics 

    12. Who is Afraid of Natalia LL? Consumer Art (1972-75) and the Pleasures and Dangers of Feminist Art in Communist Poland

    Joanna Inglot

    13. An Icon for the Aged: Alice Neel’s Self-Portrait (1980)

    Pamela Allara

    14. Phaptawan Suwannakudt’s Akojorn (1995): Connecting Women

    Yvonne Low

    15. Into the grave and back: Psychosomatic passage through grief in Lindi Arbi’s Unearthed (2009)

    Irene Bronner


    Brenda Schmahmann is Professor and the SARChI Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.