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Originally published Thursday, June 16, 2011 at 10:08 PM

Movie review

'!Women Art Revolution': Enhancing image of feminist art

A movie review of Lynn Hershman Leeson's "!Women Art Revolution" — "!W.A.R." — a documentary history of the feminist-art movement

The New York Times

Movie review

'!Women Art Revolution,' a documentary written and directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. 83 minutes. Not rated. Northwest Film Forum, through Thursday.

This review bears no star rating because The New York Times does not provide such ratings with reviews.

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Can you name three female artists? The people asked that question outside the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art can't get much beyond Frida You-Know-Who-I-Mean. That's old, sad news to Lynn Hershman Leeson, the director of "!Women Art Revolution" — "!W.A.R." — a documentary history of the feminist-art movement.

Adrian Piper, Betye Saar, Nancy Spero, Martha Rosler and Carolee Schneemann (that's five for next time you're asked) are just some of the artists interviewed by Hershman Leeson.

These interviews form the backbone of "!W.A.R.," and like the film, they're passionate, contentious, funny, sincere, politically attuned. They'd make you nostalgic for the struggle except, as many point out, the struggle continues.

The artists talk about how their work was condescended to or ignored, excluded from galleries and museums. Hershman Leeson's documentary sets out to correct the historical record and goes further, making the case that feminist art is at the very center of that history.

As a matter of principle, Hershman Leeson shows as much art as she can, including her own. She debated about using her work, she says, but decided, enough with omissions. (To that end there's an archival website, rawwar.org.)

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