Feminist Art Journal

Asking the Questions About Feminism and Art

Self Portrait In The Studio by Isy Ochoa, oil on canvas
Self Portrait In The Studio by Isy Ochoa, oil on canvas, 1993. Isy Ochoa / Getty Images

edited and with additions by Jone Johnson Lewis

Feminist Art Journal, founded in 1972, was one of the first periodicals to focus on women in the visual arts. It was published quarterly from 1972 until 1978 and played an important role in the Feminist Art Movement, exploring not just the content of women's art work but what it meant to be a female artist. As the name made clear, it was explicitly feminist, not just about women.

For several years, it was the only full-length publication devoted to women’s art. Eventually it reached a circulation of 8,000.

Feminist Art Journal critically examined how body imagery and sexual politics were related to women’s art. The political nature of feminist art was recognized. Content of the journal included essays on art criticism, artist interviews, and specifics about discrimination in the art world.  Music, literature, dance, and theater also were covered.  Traditional "crafts" of women including quilting were included as art.

A feature of the journal was the profile of a woman connected with the arts.  Profiles included such notables as Harriet Hosmer, the sculptor, and Marie de Medici, a queen of France and Navarre, who supported the arts. More than twenty profiles were included during the publication's life.

The Feminists of Feminist Art Journal

Art historian and critic Cindy Nemser edited the Feminist Art Journal.

She also wrote many of the art criticism pieces that appeared in the journal. In addition to Cindy Nemser, other feminists involved with the publication were Patricia (Pat) Mainardi and Irene Moss. The three women had left the journal Women and Art to become the editorial board of Feminist Art Journal, which they launched with the April 1972 issue.

Getting to the Heart of the Matter

The first Feminist Art Journal included Pat Mainardi's piece “A Feminine Sensibility?” The essay crystallized the idea behind the need for their publication:

"So now the art world is asking itself if there is a feminine sensibility in art. No one ever asks if there is a masculine sensibility in art for a very simple reason – men have appropriated all of art to themselves.”

-Pat Mainardi, “A Feminine Sensibiity?” Feminist Art Journal, Vol. 1, Issue 1, April 1972.

In that same first issue, Cindy Nemser, in the editorial statement, quoted Christabel Pankhurst: "Do not appeal, do not beg, do not grovel. Take courage, join hands, stand beside us, fight with us."

This was to be, according to Nemser's statement, "our own place to be our own selves in print. The battle has begun."

Another article in that first issue was "Stereotypes and Women Artists."

Other American Feminist and Women's Art Periodicals of the 1970s

  • Amazon Quarterly was a lesbian feminist publication, published 1972 to 1975.
  • Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture and Media Studies began publication in 1976.
  • Chrysalis: A Magazine of Women's Culture was published from 1977 through 1980.
  • Creative Woman was published from 1977 and went out of print in 1994.
  • Helicon Nine: A Journal of Women's Arts and Letters was in print from 1979 until 1989.
  • Heresies was published between 1977 and 1996.
  • Kassandra: only one issue was published, in 1978.
  • Washington Women's Art Center News was a newsletter that was published from 1978 until 1986.
  • Women in the Arts Newsletter (formerly Women in the Arts Bulletin) was published from 1971 into the 21st century.
  • Womenart was published 1976 to 1978.
  • Womenspace Journal was published in 1973.
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Napikoski, Linda. "Feminist Art Journal." ThoughtCo, Jan. 31, 2017, thoughtco.com/feminist-art-journal-3529059. Napikoski, Linda. (2017, January 31). Feminist Art Journal. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/feminist-art-journal-3529059 Napikoski, Linda. "Feminist Art Journal." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/feminist-art-journal-3529059 (accessed November 21, 2017).