Black Girl’s Window by Betye Saar

Black Girl’s Window by Betye Saar

Black Girl’s Window
Identity Politics
Mixed media assemblage (Wooden window frame with paint, cut-and-pasted printed and painted papers, daguerreotype, lenticular print, and plastic figurine)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA

“Black Girl’s Window” is composed of a repurposed, weathered wooden window frame. Saar painted a silhouette black girl with her hands and face against the window looking out. Her eyes are two lens-like shapes cut from material that creates the illusion of blinking as the viewer changes position. This piece marked Saar’s shift in artistic focus from printmaking to collage and assemblage. It is also a response to David Hammons “Black Boy’s Window” (1968)

Betye Saar

Betye Saar
Feminist Art, Identity Art and Identity Politics, Assemblage, Collage
Born: 30 July 1926, California, USA
Nationality: African-American

Saar is an artist best known for her work in the medium of assemblage. She is also a visual storyteller and printmaker. In the 1970s Saar was a part of the Black Arts Movement which engaged with myths and stereotypes about race and gender. Her work is highly political and challenges the negative ideas about African Americans

Will Work For #4 by Laura Aguilar

Will Work for Access #4 by Laura Aguilar

Will Work For #4
Gelatin silver print
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA

Aguilar stands beneath a gallery sign on a wall holding a handwritten sign that states “Artist Will Work for Axcess” whilst looking straight to camera, “Will Work For #4” is part of Aguilar’s 1993 Will Work For series. The makeshift handwritten aesthetic of the cardboard signs recalls homeless individuals begging for money on the streets and draws a parallel between the positioning of Aguilar the artist who needs charitable intervention to gain access to museums and galleries.

Laura Aguilar 1959-2018

Laura Aguilar
Queer Art, Identity Art and Identity Politics, Documentary Photography, LGBT Artists
Born: 26 October 1959, California, USA
Nationality: Mexican-American
Died: 25 April 2018, California, USA

Aguilar was a photographer. Born with auditory dyslexia she attributed her start in photography to her brother, who taught her how to develop in dark rooms. Self-taught Aguilar was well-known for her portraits, mostly of herself, and her focus on marginalized communities including LGBT+ and Latino subjects, self-love, and the stigma of obesity in society

Domes by Judy Chicago

Feminist Art
Sprayed acrylic lacquer inside clear acrylic
EDG, Exhibits Development Group, Minnesota, USA

Rendered in a Minimalist style using a transparent acrylic sprayed with acrylic lacquer, Domes consists of three dome-like forms. A significant contrast to the hard, geometric forms of Chicago’s contemporaries the deployment of more rounded, softer forms is suggestive of ambiguous femininity. Domes is an early piece by the artist, however, the three dome shapes form what has become Chicago’s signature motif, the triangle, that is intimately associated with vaginal imagery in Chicago’s work.

Judy Chicago
Minimalism, Feminist art
Born: 20 July 1939, Illinois, USA
Nationality: Russian – American

Chicago was one of the 1970s pioneers of Feminist art that questioned the authority of the male-dominated Western world, seeking to redress the tradition of women in visual arts

Self Portrait, Head Between Hands by Claude Cahun

Self Portrait, Head Between Hands by Claude Cahun

Self Portrait, Head Between Hands
Identity Politics, Photography
Photographic print

A striking photograph, ‘Self-Portrait, Head Between Hands’ depicts how Cahun has transitioned from their childhood and teenage female identity to the gender-neutral persona. A shaved scalp replaces the long hair effectively stripping away the social traditions of the alluring flowing locks of femininity. Cahun portrays themselves with an air of detachment and a lack of feeling, however the hands are placed either side of their head giving a sense of intensity of their lived experience. However this image is more than a comment on shifting gender politics, Cahun was also Jewish, physically stripped of identity and sex in the mounting prejudice against Jews and women.

Claude Cahun

Claude Cahun
Modern Photography, Dada, Surrealism, Photomontage, Collage, Proto-Feminist Artists
Born: 25 October 1894, Nantes, France
Nationality: French
Died: 8 December 1954, Jersey, GB

Lucy Renee Mathilde Schwob, better known as Claude Cahun, was a lesbian photographer, sculptor, and writer. Assuming the name in 1917, Cahun is best known for self-portraits, in which the artist assumed a variety of personae. Their work was political and personal, often undermining traditional concepts of stereotypical gender roles. In their autobiography, Disavowals, Cahun explained ‘Masculine? Feminine? It depends on the situation. Neuter is the only gender that always suits me.’