Sexually Explicit Art, Feminist Theory, and Gender in the 1970s  book cover
1st Edition

Sexually Explicit Art, Feminist Theory, and Gender in the 1970s

ISBN 9781032122571
Published May 31, 2022 by Routledge
190 Pages 12 Color & 20 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Structured around sexual desire as the central analytical category, this monograph systematically approaches a heterogeneous array of artworks to purposefully examine the entanglements of art, feminist theory, gender, and sexuality.

This book considers the potential of sexually explicit art to challenge a socially constructed conception of sexuality as well as gender, and explores the sexually explicit as a means to (re-)claim agency for marginalized subjectivities and to emancipate desire from within the patriarchal and heteronormative system. In distinct case studies, the author focuses on works by four US-American artists – Robert Mapplethorpe, Joan Semmel, Betty Tompkins, and Tee A. Corinne – and situates them in relation to contemporaneous debates associated with the insurgent Sexual Liberation Movements of the 1970s.

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

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. A Malleable Body 2. Through the Object’s Eye 3. Feminist Pleasures/Pleasurable Feminism 4. Libidinal Disruptions and Homosexual Desire 5. Conclusion

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Christian Liclair is an art historian and critic. He obtained his Ph.D. from Freie Universität Berlin in 2021.


"With detailed analysis of sexually explicit works by Mapplethorpe, Semmel, Tompkins, and Corinne, this book explores how these artists emancipated desire from the heteronormative and patriarchal culture of their time as well as our own. Uniquely bringing together artists across of different gender and sexual identifications, it theorizes their transformative visualizations of sexual experiences that have been marginalized in contemporary American society. In doing so, Liclair’s insightful book provides a crucial resource for future studies of sexuality and gender in contemporary art."

Miriam Kienle, Associate Professor of Art History, University of Kentucky, USA


"Christian Liclair’s Sexually Explicit Art, Feminist Theory, and Gender in the 1970s is a crucial and ambitious art history of pleasure and desire in 1970s feminist art. Liclair’s Sexually Explicit Art begins with theorizing the sexually explicit in the context of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photography. Liclair then carefully reads critical theory such as Deleuze and Guattari while bringing the sexually explicit art of Joan Semmel, Tee Corinne, and Betty Tompkins into the conversation."

John-Michael H. Warner, Kent State University, USA