Challenging Institutions and Canonical Traditions in Art

Feminist artists protested their lack of representation in museum collections and galleries as well as their exclusion from the art historical canon.  Nancy Spero’s work valorized powerful images of women from myth and history, while Joan Snyder turned away from abstraction to concentrate on imagery associated with declarations of female sensibility that was both personal and political.  The Guerrilla Girls continue to critique the art establishment in works that confront institutional biases against women artists and in activist protests outside museums and galleries.     

Joan Snyder








I believe that women artists pumped the blood back into the art movement in the 1970s and the 1980s. At the height of the Pop and Minimal movements, we were that was personal, autobiographical, expressionistic, narrative and political.  —Joan Snyder (exhibition catalogue Joan Snyder: A Painting Survey, 1969–2005, Danforth Art Museum, 2005)

 The Guerrilla Girls 






We’re feminist masked avengers in the tradition of anonymous do-gooders like Robin Hood, Wonder Woman and Batman. How do we expose sexism, racism and corruption in politics, art, film and pop culture? With facts, humor and outrageous visuals. We reveal the understory, the subtext, the overlooked, and the downright unfair… We could be anyone; we are everywhere.” —Guerrilla Girls (Our Story, 2014,


Top Image: Joan Snyder.  American, born 1940. My Temple, My Totems, 1983–1984. Painting; oil, cloth, wood and other mixed media on canvas. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William A. Small, Jr. (Susan Spencer, class of 1948). Bottom Image: Guerrilla Girls. American, 20th century. Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?, 1989. Photolithograph printed in color on paper. Purchased with the gift of the Fred Bergfors and Margaret Sandberg Foundation.