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This and That: Lynda Benglis & Rosie the Riveter

“This and That” is an occasional series of paired observations. -Ed.

Today: We Can Do It

Vintage image of Rosie the Riveter by J. Howard Miller. Courtesy National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

Vintage image of Rosie the Riveter by J. Howard Miller. Courtesy National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

 

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The Benglis ad, as it appeared in Artforum in 1974.

The iconic spread featuring Lynda Benglis from the 1974 issue of Artforum has come to be known simply as “the Benglis ad.” It caused a furor at the time, and was reportedly one reason critics Rosalind Krauss and Annette Michelson left Artforum and started October magazine. In a New York Times article about the ad, Robert Smith said of Krauss and Michelson’s reaction, “it is amazing to read critics of new art sounding like National Endowment for the Arts-baiting senators, 15 years before Mapplethorpe.” I asked the critic Dave Hickey, an ardent Benglis fan, about the ad and he commented that it “broke the feminist movement in two. It cast a lot of rowdy girls off to the side, and then people started having shows called ‘Bad Girls’ and it was all very stupid.”

Casting farther back, this year the woman whose image inspired the iconic WWII “Rosie the Riveter” poster came forward, after years of being misidentified. She is Naomi Parker-Fraley, she’s alive and kicking at 95 years old, and she recently said, “the women of this country these days need some icons.”

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No matter how original, innovative or crazy your idea, someone else is also working on that idea. Furthermore, they are using notation very similar to yours. – Bruce J. MacLennan

 

also by Rainey Knudson
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