Movie review: '!Women Art Revolution (!W.A.R.)’

In 1966, Lynn Hershman Leeson, a pioneering multimedia artist, started filming people coming through her living room in Berkeley. She forgot about the footage until she came across it in storage in 2004 and became inspired to call attention to the work of these women who were attempting to discover their identities, addressing issues of social justice and civil rights and their role in creating a revolutionary feminist art.

In her vibrant "!Women Art Revolution (!W.A.R.)” Hershman focuses on a number of the many women who created what has been called the most significant art movement of the late 20th century. The feminist art movement started to emerge in the ‘60s along with the antiwar and civil rights movements. The ‘70s saw the formation of the Guerrilla Girls, an anonymous, gorilla-masked group that held accountable museums and galleries for racism and sexism.

The struggle for equality for women in the pursuit of freedom of expression is an abiding theme throughout the film. History in "!W.A.R.” unfolds through an astute mix of interviews with artists, critics and experts on the movement.

"!W.A.R.” features a number of famous figures, starting with Yoko Ono and artist-author Judy Chicago, writer B. Ruby Rich, photographer Cindy Sherman and Ingrid Sischy, Vanity Fair international editor and former editor of Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine.


Among the filmmakers represented are dancer-choreographer-filmmaker Yvonne Rainer and Carolee Schneemann, whose 1967 short film “Fuses” became a landmark in erotica for its exploration of love-making from a female perspective and its use of a wide range of experimental techniques. Also present is Rachel Rosenthal, ceaselessly innovative and compelling performance artist.

Along with the film Hershman Leeson and others have written a graphic novel of the same name, which includes a succinct survey and timeline of the "!Women Art Revolution” movement.

“Women Art Revolution.” No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes. At Laemmle’s Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.