From the Center: Feminist essays on women’s art. Lucy R. Lippard

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I have been reading Lucy Lippard’s essays on women’s art (1976)and found the common factors and recurring elements particularly relevant to my own work.

Central core imagery of boxes, ovals, spheres, and ” empty” centres often occur in female artists work. Jury Chicago and Miriam Schapiro wrote theories about the high incidence of central- core imagery, re-currying elements such as a uniform density, repetition or detailed to the point of obsession. The preponderance of circular forms, central focus, inner space, layers or strata, or veils, windows, autobiographical content and a certain kind of fragmentation are all regularly expressed in female artists work.

The  artist Eva Hesse’s work and her use of the grid is discussed as a discipline within which her own obsessions could be expressed. Other shapes that obsessed Hesse were irregular rectangles, parabolas, curving forms and circles.

Although the images most frequently appearing were with biological and sexual sources. The central focus or aperture, domes, spheres, cylinders, eggs, ovals, containers are acknowledged as the role of interior space and central core imagery. This relationship between inside and outside preoccupied artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Mary Miss, Ree Morton and Jackie Winsor. Traditionally inside represents female, outside male. Interiors are seen in women’s literature as prisons and sanctuaries. In the visual arts , women’s images of enclosed space convey either confinement or as protection.

Lippard asks the question : ” Why will so few women admit to using their own bodies or biological experience even as unconscious subject matter?”

In regards to my own work I have started taking photographs of my own body close up but have focused on feet,hands and mouth. Photographed up close their ambiguity fascinates me.


Lippard, L: (1976) From The Center. Feminist Essays On Women’s Art. Clarke, Irwin and Company Limited, Canada.


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