What is Feminist Art?


Feminist art resists easy definitions. 

In 1977, feminist activists Ruth Iskin, Lucy Lippard, and Arlene Raven organized an exhibition centered on the question, “What is Feminist Art?” They invited artists to answer this question on a letter-sized piece of paper. Hundreds of artists responded in the form of collage, manifestos, drawings, and prints, providing a snapshot of the ongoing conversations around feminism in the United States. 

In 2019, the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art asked this same question, “What is Feminist Art?” to some of the same women who responded in 1977, as well as a new group of artists to capture the current response.  

On view are more than 75 responses from then and now. These personal statements are vibrant and varied, elucidating the contours of feminist art by complicating its origins, calling out its failures, and celebrating its achievements. 

This exhibition was organized by the Archives of American Art with funding from the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative. 

How to Explore this Exhibition

In-personWhat is Feminist Art: Then and Now is on view at the Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery in Washington, D.C. November 26, 2019–December 31, 2021

As a public health precaution due to COVID-19, all Smithsonian museums, including the Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery, are closed temporarily beginning November 23, 2020. We are not announcing a reopening date at this time and will provide updates on our websites and social media

Online: To explore collection items in this exhibition, use the navigation options in the sidebar under the "Contents of Exhibition" heading.