The Many Selves of Pioneering Feminist Artist Eleanor Antin
In 1970 Eleanor Antin created a group of portraits of artists and intellectuals she admired, several of whom were personal friends. Entitled Portraits of Eight New York Women, the project featured individuals who had crafted a lifestyle independent from men. Each work consists of small arrangements of consumer goods that reflect some aspect of the subject´s life, paired with brief texts. Painter and performance artist Carolee Schneemann is represented by a velvet-draped easel, a jar of honey, a full-length mirror, and a text panel relating a personal anecdote that bears no obvious correlation to the constellation of objects. While the contents of each tableau are suggestive, the implied narrative remains oblique.
Image rights: Courtesy of the artist and Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York
"This Is a Portrait If I Say So: Identity in American Art, 1912 to Today"
Collection of the artist
The core of Eleanor Antin’s performances, films, photographs, written texts, and installations is her wide cast of alter egos from both historic and contemporary times, who explore issues of age, race, sex, and class. As critic Kim Levin aptly said, by “impersonating the past, Antin personalizes the issues and dilemmas of the present.” Antin began creating Conceptual art in the 1960s, and in the ’70s became widely known for using then-unconventional narrative forms in her artwork, such as autobiography and impersonation, always with a transgressive, deadpan humor. One of her most famous characters was Eleanora Antinova—an imagined forgotten black ballerina from Sergei Diaghilev’s productions—as whom she has written a fictitious memoir and made films, drawings, and performances.
American, b. 1935, Bronx, New York, based in New York, New York