This disillusionment with the dream of the modern is called the postmodern.  Our country’s investment in “raising the quality of life” through economic prosperity and the development of suburbia either impoverished racial/ethnic groups or left many behind economically. In art of the postmodern era (now), artists depict the underlying tensions and frustrations (many due to issues of race, gender, or other minority status) that have been deliberately ignored.

Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party, 1979, is a feminist challenge to male artistic and patriarchal authority. Appropriating the traditional format of Leonardo’s Last Supper (thirteen men on one side of the table), a narrative which is exclusively male, representing a religious hierarchy which is exclusively male, she turns it into a gathering of illustrious females, not only the equivalent of the Last Supper narrative, but with thirty-nine place settings. Chicago’s objective was to call attention to the many women who had been forgotten, neglected, or conveniently left out of history books due to the censoring authority of our male dominated society. This work allowed Chicago to openly confront historically engrained gender bias in an in-your-face, interactive installation. 

 

 INSERT HER JUDY CHICAGO’S “DINNER PARTY” FROM EARLIER CHAPTER ON INSTALLATION SCULPTURE

 INSERT HERE “HAMILTON MANTLE”

Ann Hamilton’s mantle, 1998, also addressed gender roles and the visibility/invisibility of women in traditional societies. The homemaker is made visible, conducting her sewing in a public gallery space. The juxtaposition of private/public, life/death, nature/constructed environment bespeak of the multiple roles and identities of women.