On a boiling hot morning in June 1984, hundreds of women converged on the Museum of Modern Art in New York to protest. MoMA was holding a huge exhibition of recent art and of the 165 artists showing, only 14 were women. The crowd chanted “You don’t have to have a penis to be a genius” and wore suffragette sashes. Among them was the artist Mary Beth Edelson. By that point Edelson, who has died aged 88, had spent 20 years at the forefront of the feminist art movement.
In 1972 she created a collage titled Some Living American Women Artists/Last Supper. Riffing on the Leonardo da Vinci painting, she replaced the faces of the disciples with those of female artists, among them Yoko Ono, Louise Bourgeois and Helen Frankenthaler. In the place of Jesus is Georgia O’Keeffe. The work became a poster, widely distributed and iconic to those fighting misogyny in the art world.
Mary Beth Edelson, artist, born 6 February 1933; died 20 April 2021