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The Art Story Homepage Artists Martha Rosler

Martha Rosler

American Painter, Photomontage, Installation, Video, Performance Artist

Martha Rosler Photo
Movements and Styles: Pop Art, Feminist Art, Video Art, Performance Art

Born: July 29, 1943 - Brooklyn, New York

"What interested me about pop was it was directly engaging with the imagery ... I saw it as critical."

Summary of Martha Rosler

Regardless of medium or message, Martha Rosler's biggest contribution to the art world lies in her ability to present imagery that spotlights the veil between facade and reality, comfort and discomfort, and the myriad ways we keep our eyes wide shut or wide open. During the Feminist art movement of the 1970s, she explored the imposed versus exposed injustices of being a woman. As a member of the Pop art movement, she highlighted the media's targeted seduction of people into a more consumerist-driven lifestyle. Today, she continues to focus on our still inbred aptitude for replacing dire global realities such as war with fluffy faux-reality distractions like reality television and advertisement-driven personal entertainments. Her knack remains in showing us the shadow side of society alongside the constructions we build to appease our souls for partaking in its enveloping fold. Neither is diffused in her making, as she honestly presents the existence of each.

Key Ideas

Her work often focuses on political issues such as war or injustice but in a way that challenges us to bring these topics into a more personal sphere, not just relegated to the pages of a magazine or a prime time news report. She asks us to pay attention to what is happening even if it is not occurring within our own environments and to consider the role that the media has in controlling how we perceive world events.
Pop art provided Rosler with a good vehicle to address themes she wanted to explore because of its use of photomontage and collaged imagery. It also allowed her to co-opt the very visuals she wished to critique, presenting them in her own pieces.
Rosler became a leading figure in the Feminist art movement because much of her work revealed the divide between how women were portrayed as individuals whose only place was within the confines of home, marriage, kitchen, and motherhood and the way they actually felt by being pigeonholed into said domestic roles. She also used brave new technologies such as video to differentiate herself from the male art stars and their traditional mediums that had come before.
Rosler is also known for her prolific writing and theory on the role of photography in art, as well as her interest in public spaces. Her 1981 essay on documentary photography discusses how people derive meaning from photographs and has been republished in multitude and widely translated.

Martha Rosler Artist Overview Page

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