Feminist Criticism: On Disturbatory Art and Beauty

In Lydia Goehr & Jonathan Gilmore (eds.), A Companion to Arthur Danto. Hoboken, NJ, USA: (forthcoming)

Peg Brand Weiser
Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis
Arthur C. Danto, philosopher and art critic for The Nation from 1984-2009, offered interpretations of artworks by a wide array of artists, including Eva Hesse, Judy Chicago, and Cindy Sherman, whose "disturbatory" works were either ignored or denounced by mainstream critics at the time. Danto's championing of feminist art was deliberate and delightful; he openly endorsed the Guerilla Girls! His feminist art critical writings ultimately shaped the early development of what has come to be known as "feminist aesthetics" particularly his focus on defiant artworks by female artists who sought to reclaim agency and expression of the female body. He revived interest in the neglected topic of beauty while simultaneously advancing radical political goals within the artworld. His call to arms urged art viewers to experience the new--what he often called "art on the edge and over"--wherein, "The experience of art becomes a moral adventure rather than merely an aesthetic interlude" (in Art on the Edge and Over: Searching for Art's Meaning in Contemporary Society 1970s-1990s, 1996).
Keywords Aeshtetics  Feminist Aesthetics  Beauty  Feminist Art  Disturbatory Art  Arthur C. Danto
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