Visitors to the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ latest exhibit will see the female form nude, clothed, covered in makeup, tied up in string, pressed against panes of glass, pregnant, abstracted, objectified, dressed as a pony, and groped by strangers. Images of female bodies are shown burned in effigy, post-coital, and with gender-bending spare parts—they’re mothers, pornographers, and, above all, activists. Feminist art inevitably focuses on the female form as a way to reclaim it from traditional male painters, who painted it for the gaze of other men, and part of the fascination of “WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution” is seeing the way that artists’ portrayals intersect and differ. Cosmetics, advertising, and the “ideal” woman play a role in the work of Suzy Lake, Martha Roster, and Sanja Ivekovic, while Mary Kelly and Lea Lublin focus on a woman’s duty as a wife, mother, and homemaker. Yonic imagery prevails for much of the exhibit and is most notably present in the work of Ana Mendieta and Judy Chicago, who personally discusses her work, Through the Flower, in the museum’s cell phone audio guide. The textile works are among the most interesting of the exhibit. Faith Wilding uses crochet to create an amorphous spiderwebbed room, and the lumps on Louise Bourgeois’ Costume for a Banquet are humanlike but definitely not of this world. Lygia Clark’s “Collective Head” invites viewers to leave objects in the mobile’s plastic netting, where (so far) you’ll find pingpong balls, lip gloss, tampons, and the prominently placed business card of Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh—itself a testament to the feminist movement, adding a quintessential Washingtonian touch. The exhibition is on view from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays, to Sunday, Dec. 16, at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Ave. NW. $8. (202) 783-5000.

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