Margaret Harrison, renowned British artist and pioneer of feminist art, revisits the themes of her very early work exploring notions of the human body as an object of sexuality, consumption, and gaze. The Bodies Are Back consists of works on paper that Harrison produced in the late 1960's/early 1970's displayed alongside new works created for this show. In 1971, Harrison's work was instantly met with controversy and antagonism (the London police shut down her first solo exhibition the day after it opened feeling that its contents were too controversial). This controversy caused Harrison to abandon the issues and themes of this series. Now an established artist with work in the permanent collections of major international institutions, she is critically re-engaging with this body of work, continuing the dialogue that she began four decades ago.
Margaret Harrison studied at the Carlisle College of Art, England (1957-61), Royal Academy Schools, London (1961-64), and the Academy of Art in Perugia, Italy (1965). She is a research Professor at the Manchester Metropolitan University and The Summer Arts Institute of California, held at U.C. Davis. In 1970, she was one of the founders of the first London Women’s Liberation Art Group. She came of age as an artist during the heady years of pop, minimal and conceptual work. She has produced bodies of work dealing with homeworkers, rape, domestic abuse, war's impact on women, fame and celebrity status, and beauty as depicted by the cosmetics industry. She has been an Artist in Residence at the New Museum for Contemporary Art in New York and a Fellow at the Studio for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University. She has been featured in over 20 solo exhibitions, including ones mounted at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts (New York, NY), The New Museum for Contemporary Art (New York, NY), Woodruff Art Center (Atlanta, GA), Beacon Street Gallery (Chicago, IL), Ruth Bloom Gallery (Santa Monica, CA), and Beverley Knowles Fine Art (London, UK). She has also been included in group exhibitions for the past three decades, including venues such as Santa Monica Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland Museum of Art, San Jose Museum of Art, Capp Street Project, P.S. 1 (New York, NY), National Museum for Women in the Arts (Washington DC), Florence Bienale, Whitechapel Art Gallery (London), Institute for Contemporary Art (London), and Victoria & Albert Museum (London). Her work is in the public collections of the Tate Gallery, Arts Council of England, Künsthaus Zurich, Victoria & Albert Museum, and U.C. Davis. She has taught at Manchester Metropolitan University, U.C. Davis, California College of Arts and Crafts, St. Martin's School of Art, Newcastle College of Art, Carnegie Mellon University, and Goldsmith’s College at the University of London. Her work has been the subject of numerous critical essays and reviews, including ones published in The Village Voice, The New Yorker, Time Out, The Sacramento Bee, Artview, and the Guardian (UK). Noted theorists and historians Lucy Lippard, Penelope Shackelford, Suzanne Davies, and Peter Suchin have all written on Harrison’s work. Some of her early controversial drawings are currently showing as part of the traveling exhibition WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, an exhibition curated by Connie Butler, drawing curator of New York’s MoMA. The inaugural showing of WACK! was at Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in 2007 and has traveled to the National Museum for Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington DC, MoMA in New York City, and the Vancouver Museum and Art Gallery. Drawings from this show have been reserved for the Tate's collection. Harrison also recently participated in the 11th International Istanbul Biennial in Fall 2009. Exhibiting with 70 internationally renowned artists and artist collectives who have attracted acclaim in the contemporary art scene, Harrison was the sole British representative.