September 10, 2007

Feminism, painting and New York City in the 1970's

In the Brooklyn Rail, Deborah Kass remembers how NYC's Second Wave Feminists changed the course of painting history in the 1970's: "When I served burgers at the Broome Street Bar and lived in a loft on West Broadway next to Towers Cafeteria, soon to be The Odeon, there were several women artists along with Elizabeth whose practice was located in my new favorite neighborhood downtown. It was there, at the intersection of the New York School, painting and feminism, that I was in exactly the place I wanted to be.

"I was a lucky young woman painter, due to my arrival in New York at the height of Second Wave Feminism. I didn’t imagine that being a woman painter would ever be the problem that it was to become for my generation of women painters in the 80’s. In the 70’s my heroes were doing great! Along with Elizabeth there was Pat Steir, Joan Snyder, and Mary Heilman, whose work I would see upon arrival with regularity in Soho and at the Whitney, courtesy of the late great Marcia Tucker. Lousie Fishman, Susan Rothenberg, Lois Lane, Denise Green, Harriet Korman, Harmony Hammond and Dona Nelson showed regularly. I will never forget Mary’s show at Holly Solomon’s in 1976. There was a small red, yellow and blue diptych that was so kooky and vivid I never forgot it. In the 90’s I saw it in her loft, exactly as I remembered it from 20 years before. Joan’s virtuoso emotional intensity led to a lifetime of formal invention. Pat’s gorgeous deconstruction of picture making simply made the work of Ross Bleckner and Jonathan Lasker possible. 'New image' and 'Bad Painting,' along with feminism, inspired the men and women of my generation." Read more.