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Pop Art beyond Warhol and the boys



Pictured: "Pencil" by Vija Celmins

The accepted history of pop art asserts the movement was driven by visionary men challenging the establishment with irreverent (and often misogynist) images that exploded the stodgy formalism of fine art. 

This telling, of course, excludes an entire gender. Brooklyn Museum’s “Seductive Subversion” aims to rectify that. The exhibit showcases the forgotten female artists of the era, highlighting the fact that they, too, were part of the cultural conversation.

The women of pop art seemed to follow two distinct strategies:

Anything you can do, I can do better

Pop art’s sensibility celebrated the mundane and the frivolous, and birthed many works that were flashy but shallow. Women pop artists, however, tended to make grander social statements with their art. While remaining “pop,” their work took on sexism, racism and war, making social statements the other gender generally shied away from.

Above: "Home Movies," by Rosalyn Drexler. Her paintings use appropriated images from movies to emphasize the pervasiveness of violence, especially toward women.

Just one of the boys

Social politics wasn’t every woman artist’s aim. Many female artists just submerged themselves in the aesthetic of the time. Their work is amusing, if not always terribly deep, and these artists held their own against their male counterparts. 

Above: Dorothy Grebenak made hook and loop rug such as “Two Dollar Bill” just because she thought it was funny.

"Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists, 1958–1968" is at the Brooklyn Museum through Jan. 9.

View a photo gallery here.


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