The late 1960s saw a boom in the number of artists focusing on the construction of identity in the media, challenging gender roles and rewriting the male-dominated traditions of art history. One of the strategies employed by these artists was to borrow elements from popular visual culture in order to question the ways in which the female body is presented, whether as sex fantasy or ‘domestic goddess’.
Artists have also manipulated their own appearance, stressing how clothes and make-up function as a costume and dressing up to ‘perform’ gender in a way that meets or plays with social expectations. Some works highlight the ritualistic and depersonalising aspects of applying cosmetics, while others enact exaggerated gender stereotypes.
Some women artists have chosen to expose and highlight their sexuality, in order to reclaim it and transform it from an object of male desire to a creative and oppositional force. In other cases, the categories of ‘male’ and ‘female’ are resisted or rejected for a more fluid and dynamic understanding of gender identity.
Curated by Valentina Ravaglia
The International Council Gallery Consortium