Based on three exhibitions in which the writer and activist Lucy Lippard took part from 1970 to 1980, this dissertation maintains that the relationship between conceptual art and feminism is more ambivalent than official histories attest. I contend that in negotiating these discourses, both of which were informed by Lippard's art criticism, women artists developed important nodes of resistance in the face of institutional indifference. Three interrelated themes underpin this discussion: a questioning of traditions of authorship, the paradoxical avowal and disavowal of categories of identity, and an investigation into the powers and instabilities of language.
Chapter One addresses the occlusion of women's conceptual art in the context of Information (1970), a landmark exhibition of conceptual art at MoMA, New York. Analyses center on the subjective and objective tensions that inhere in contributions by Lippard and artists Bernd and Hilla Becher, Hanne Darboven, Christine Kozlov, and Adrian Piper. Discussion extends to theories of the exhibition as a discursive site, Lippard's influential observation of art's dematerialization, and the impact of artist activism and the nascent women's movement in art.
Chapter Two focuses on c. 7,500 (1973-74), an under-examined traveling exhibition originating at CalArts in Valencia, California that Lippard curated to highlight women's conceptual art. Works by artists such as Eleanor Antin, Agnes Denes, Nancy Holt, Athena Tacha, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, and Martha Wilson complicate the category "feminist art" during a time Lippard and others advocated a separate sphere for women's art. In dialogue with mid-1970s institutional critique, the innovative format of c. 7,500 dispersed the exhibition site along with conventions of artist, critic, curator, and audience.
Chapter Three addresses Lippard's Issue: Social Strategies by Women Artists (1980) at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London. Artists include Margaret Harrison, Mary Kelly, Suzanne Lacy, Miriam Sharon, Nancy Spero, and May Stevens. The selection of politicized work informed by feminism, much of which extended conceptualist idioms, sought to bridge increasingly obdurate divisions within feminist art. I conclude that evidence of a productive nexus of conceptual and feminism ultimately advances an alternative framework for understanding art's political utility past and present.