Postmodern Theory and Feminist Art Practice

  • Janet Wolff
Part of the Communications and Culture book series (COMMCU)


Postmodernism has been welcomed enthusiastically by many feminist artists and critics, frustrated by their continuing exclusion from the dominant modernist tradition in the visual arts. The particular strategies of postmodernist art practice are seen as potentially critical and radical interventions into what is still predominantly a patriarchal culture. Craig Owens, in one of the first of the now numerous collections of essays on postmodern theory, suggested the close affinity of feminism and postmodernism: ‘the kind of simultaneous activity on multiple fronts that characterizes many feminist practices is a postmodern phenomenon.’ (Owens, 1985, p. 63) This claim on behalf of recent developments in the visual arts has also been made with regard to so-called postmodernism in other media: for example, dance, music television and popular culture. In this essay I shall review the arguments about the feminist potential of postmodern art, and consider some of the difficulties with this particular alliance.


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© Janet Wolff 1990

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  • Janet Wolff

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