Dean Kaufman


November 20, 2017

Recent commission by the New York Times T Magazine, in print this Sunday, took me into the studios of four artists, Betty Tomkins, Judith Bernstein, Carolee Schneemann and Juanita McNeely. All have been producing their works on sexual themes for decades to little notice – if not outright persecution – from critics, curators and audiences.

Like their male counterparts, their subject matter is also the body, but unlike some of their proto-feminist foremothers (Georgia O’Keeffe, Agnes Martin, Lee Krasner), they’re concerned not with vaginal flowers or redefining beauty, but with fluids, bulges and secretions. Fellow artists and critics have called them the “blood and guts club” or the “black sheep feminists.” Censored, shunned and banished to obscurity for most of their careers, they’ve been working with remarkable consistency, and it is only now — when these artists are in their 70s, 80s and 90s — that they, and their work, are being embraced as canonical. text / Rachel Corbett