Art Exhibition Class

Exhibition Planning &
Gallery Management

MODULE 4 > Gender Studies Review & Proposal 





Listen to the in-class lecture and participate in the class discussion.

Students have to turn in their art review or show proposal each week.

You should be ready to present your finished review or show proposal in class every week.


[  ] Write a review of a artwork or artworks that address issue of gender and sexual difference (see below for details).


[  ] Make a show proposal for your exhibition about a show that reconsideres how we think about gender norms, roles, and societal expectations. Focus on your favorite artists who are critical of cultural, sexual, gendered and racial stereotypes.



Goal: To try to describe how a work or works of art challenges issues of gender or sexual identity.

Preparing to Write:

Begin by taking down some notes about the following:

  • Does this work or works of art challenge cultural norms about gender identity or sexual difference? Or, does they merely reinforce the dominant set of cultural expectations?
  • How does any work of art or works of art portray ideas about sexual identity, such what it means to be male, female, gay, lesbian, trans, bi, queer, etc.?
  • What is this work or works of art trying to say about gender and/or sexual difference, and why?
  • How does this work or works of art present an alternative perspective on sexual or gender relations than what you expected?
  • Does it reinforce cultural stereotypes or does it open up new avenues for thinking about sexuality identity and sexual difference in the 21st century?
  • If so, how are the work or works of art doing this? Through what type of images and associations?
  • Does this work of art present a new model of normative relationships or a fluid open-ended model, or something else altogether?


Writing Tips:

When you write a gender studies art review try to get specific about your questions. Address things like:

  • What are the figures doing and what is implied about gender relations as a result?
  • Which gender does the image seem to be staged for and why?
  • Is there a conflict or a question about gender relations that the artist is using this particular piece to address specifically?
  • If so, what is the guiding theme or issue, and how is it being addressed?
  • Do you think the work is successful in challenging cultural expectations or in opening up new ways of seeing sexual or gendered relations, or does it reinforce “normative” perceptions of “naurtalized” identities?
  • If it does succeed in opening up new ways of thinking about gender and sexual relations, then how does it do this, and if not, then why doesn’t it succeed?


Hint: You should try to explore the ways in which thinking about gender and sexual difference can point out hidden prejudices, positions of privilege and “normative” presuppositions that are all culturally constructed expectations.  

Art Review: 3-5 paragraphs, 1.5 type, 3-5 pictures when possible.




















Optional Reading (Art 560)

[  ] A Short Guide to Writing About Art. By Sylvan Barnet. Gender Studies: Feminist Criticism and Gay and Lesbian Studies (pgs. 157-163)

[ ] The Methodologies of Art: An Introduction. By Laurie Schneider Adams. Chapter 5: Contextual Approaches: Feminism

[  ] Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. By Peter Barry. Chapter 6: Feminist Criticism

[  ] Postmodern Perspectives: Issues in Contemporary Art. By Howard Risatti. Part Four: Feminist Criticism




Online Resources

Feminist Art Criticism

Women, Art, and Art History: Gender and Feminist Analysis




Video Resources

Judy Chicago on Feminist Art

Tate: Introduction to Feminist Art

Art and Change: Art and FEminism

Guerrilla Girls Talk on the History of Art vs. The History of Power



Gender studies as Method

This method of writing is usually used to challenge ‘normative’, stereotypical and prejudiced cultural assumption about gender, race and sexuality.

Example of a Gender Studies / Feminist art review:​



CLASS DISCUSSION - How do you think gender, race or sexual orientation effect an artist's chances of doing well in the artworld? 

Top 5 Controversial Female Artists (video)​

1. Pussy Riot

2. Guerrilla Girls

3. Sarah Kane

4. Cindy Sherman

5.Claude Cahun

10 Famous Feminist Artworks

1. Judy Chicago, The Dinner Party, 1974-79

2. Martha Rosler, Semiotics of the Kitchen, 1975

3. Faith Ringgold, The Picnic at Giverny, 1991

4. Nancy Spero, The Torture of Women, 2010

5. Guerrilla Girls, Do Women Have to Be Naked?

6. Yoko Ono, cut Piece, 1964

7. Hannah Wilke, S.O.S., Starification Object Series, 1974

8. Louise Bourgeois, Femme Masion

9. Cindy Sherman, Centerfolds, 1981

10. Laurie Simmons, Early Color Interiors


Radical Sexual Feminist Art

1. Cosey Fanni Tutti

2. Anita Steckel

3. Betty Tompkins

4. Joan Semmel

5. Leah Schrader

6. Naomi Elena Ramirez

7. Zanele Muholi


List of Feminist Art Exhibitions since 1970


Gender and the arts


The Need for Equality of Coverage for women in the Art Press


The Need for Historical Revisionism with Regard to Inequality of Representation

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