It’s almost Christmas, but did you know that SmartGlamour’s clothing lines have a hidden “easter egg?” You may have noticed that many of our products have people’s names — that’s not just a stylistic choice; it’s a deliberate way in which we pay homage to the people who have made waves and pioneered the way forward throughout history.
Today, we’re going to take a look at the Holiday 2017 line, which celebrates feminist artists of the 70’s:
Renate Eisenegger is a multi-disciplinary avant-garde artist from Germany. Some of her photographic work includes painting her face with bright white paint and abstracting herself with geometric lines or photographing herself disappearing as she covers her features with cotton and tape. Recently, during an exhibition of Feminist Avant-Garde art in London, Renate Eisnegger stated, “For over forty years, no one took any interest in my works. They were all in the attic.” If you can find some of her art outside of an attic, then you should go check it out.
Lynn Hershman Leeson
Lynn Hershman Lesson is living art. For two years in the seventies, she created an entirely different persona and lived that persona’s life instead of her own. She explored her own femininity through the construction of someone else’s — of her experience, she said, “Through fiction you can sometimes get to a deeper truth.” Beyond using herself as a canvas, her later art included film and digital technology to explore desire, femininity, and social construction.
A woman after my own heart, Cindy Sherman explored the performance of “woman” through photography throughout the seventies. Using makeup, wigs, and clothing, she constructed a series of personas and photographed herself, raising questions about “common stereotypes and cultural assumptions” while simultaneously creating and critiquing the photograph and its viewer.
Austrian artist Karin Mack also played with identity in her works. She began her career as a documentary photographer — one who photographs things as they are — but she quickly moved to concept photography to explore and deconstruct the idealized image and the expectations we place on the image of “woman.” One of her most striking series explores “the death of the image…as an act of liberation.”
Mary Beth Edelson
Mary Beth Edelson is an American multidisciplinary artist who was also active in the feminist and civil rights movements of the 60s and 70s. Her work deconstructs patriarchal history, as in Some Living Women Artists/Last Supper, where she replaced the heads of the men in da Vinci’s famous painting with her peers. She often turns to goddesses and strong female characters and tropes from history and fiction in her art.
Using unconventional media, like chewing gum and laundry lint, Hannah Wilke’s work was radical and in-your-face. She was a performance artist who was unafraid to shy away from the taboo — which meant that many of her pieces were evocative of (or explicitly about) the vulva/vagina. She often used her own body as a canvas — such as in an iconic photograph of herself covered in chewing gum shaped like vulvas in the S.O.S. — Starification Object Series.
VALIE EXPORT was born Waltraud Lehner. As a revolt against parents who had been complacent during the Nazi regime and against patriarchal norms, she shed her father’s and husband’s names, and instead took the name of a brand of cigarettes. Her artwork was performative and in-your-face — including a piece of performance art called Tap and Touch Cinema, wherein she wore a curtained “theater” on her upper body and had passersby touch her unseen breasts through the curtain. She also wrote a powerful manifesto on women’s art in 1972.
It’s amazing how much feminist art has flown just off below radar of popular culture. If any of these women and their work sparked your curiosity, go and take a deep dive! The more we support the feminist art that does exist, the more room it creates in the popular narrative for art like this.
SmartGlamour pays tribute to more than just this one group of people — stay tuned for future posts explaining the backstory and history behind the names of your favorite pieces of clothing.