What Women Have Done to Art

Four decades after feminist art erupted onto the scene, two exhibitions help us assess which works offer more than polemics

Most people who remember the glory days of feminism in the 1970s think first of the consciousness-raising sessions, of Betty Friedan and Kate Millett and of Jane Fonda in a shag-helmet haircut. But if you spend much time in galleries and museums, you know that feminist ideas roared through the art world too, at a time when it was even more of a boy's club than it is today. How much more? Until 1986, H.W. Janson's History of Art, the standard college text, did not include a single woman among the 2,300 artists mentioned in its pages. That year it was...

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