Hannah Wilke was a defining presence in the emerging community of women artists in the 1960s and 1970s. In this collection, Nancy Princenthal not only presents a comprehensive survey of the artist’s oeuvre but also goes some way to uncovering the rhetoric behind Wilke’s work.
Wilke’s courageous feminist practice, from the early 1960s until her untimely death in 1993, is testament to the notion that making art can sustain the subject beyond its bodily demise. Using a wide range of non-traditional mediums, including photography and film, as well as latex and chewing gum, Wilkes captured the spirit of the times. Her work has often been aligned to the women’s liberation movement although labelling her art as such obscures its real value.
By shifting long-standing assumptions that associate her work with essentialist 1970s feminism, Princenthal’s commentary gives weight to the complex narratives at play beneath the surface. Taking in inexplicit references to Judaism to the heartbreaking images of her illness this monograph not only makes compelling reading, but fascinating viewing.