Art & Propaganda in the Twentieth Century

The Political Image in the Age of Mass Culture

Toby Clark

"On the East Coast, Mary Beth Edelson, who was aligned to the Women’s Spirituality Movement, performed rituals in urban and natural settings devoted to goddess worship and witchcraft. Some are recorded in the photographic series Woman Rising. As well as founding an all-women gallery in New York, Edelson set up performance workshops which, like many other feminist art activities, brought together professional and amateur artists. Her Death of the Patriarchy transforms Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp (1632) into a triumphant image of feminist artists dismembering a male-dominated discourse. The old communist-aligned avant-garde groups of the 1920s and 1930s, like the German Dadaists and the Surrealists in France, had never achieved this creative relationship with their wider political movement. Feminism in the 1970s helped to open up the narrow professional control of galleries, and broadened the range of art journals. It also had a profound effect on academic art history, jolting the discipline out of its connoisseurial reverence for the 'great masters.'"
pp. 149-150

Perspectives Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers New York, 1997