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Artworks by women artists on 30 topics
related to Feminism and Contemporary Art


About this topic: Conception/Pregnancy/Childbirth

Conception and pregnancy seen from a woman's point of view is the subject of these works. Women's potential redundancy in this biological process is contrasted with women's centrality in pregnancy and birth currently. Women's emancipation in terms of their choice to have a child is contrasted with women's entombment and confinement to this role. Desire and hope in conception, celebration of a forthcoming birth and its difficulties, beauty and ugliness are some of the strong contrasts in these representations. The shape of the female body in pregnancy stands as an icon or becomes a landscape, is mimicked by men. The medicalisation of birth, the exploitation of women's reproductive capacity in IVF egg-farming or the dangers of late or backstreet abortions are considered. These works raise repeatedly a key feminist concern: women's autonomy in deciding whether, when or how to give birth.

  1. Mitsuko Tabe (Japan) Jinkō Taiban / Artificial placenta (1961) sculpture/object, mannequin, ping pong balls, cotton wool, cloth, vacuum tubes, nails, electrical cords, tar, recreated in 2004     Kumamoto Museum of Contemporary Art 

  2. Alice Neel (USA) Pregnant Maria (1964) oil on canvas     Private Collection 

  3. Monica Sjoo (Sweden) God Giving Birth (1968) oil on hardboard painting  183 x 122 cm    Museum Anna Nordlander, Sweden 

  4. Ferdi Tajiri-Jansen (The Netherlands) Wombtomb (1968) artificial fur, metal, foam rubber 130 x 225 x 70 cm  Rijksmuseum  

  5. Kirsten Justesen (Denmark) OMSTÆNDIGHEDER (1969) 4 x glasfiberarmeret epoxy torso med indstøbte tryksager, slægtsfoto, fotokopier, plastblomster, gaze, skind i størrelse 1:1.      

  6. Miana-Miriam Munsky (Germany) Emancipation (1970) oil on canvas 110 x 140 cm     

  7. Susan Hiller (UK) Ten Months (1977 - 1979) black and white photography and text total area, 163 x 564cm    Arts Council Collection, GB 

  8. Frans Beelen (The Netherlands) Cyclus (1977) series of 7 terracotta pieces, showing cycle of conception, birth, growth of children in relation to mother's torso 50 x 100 cm     

  9. Monica Englund (Sweden) En Fodelse (1979) photo series about pregnancy, birth     Moderna Museet 

  10. Judy Chicago (USA) Birth Project (1982 - 1985) 30 foot long drawings, plus tapestries, smocking, embroidery, prints in later parts of the project     

  11. Shelagh Keeley (Canada) Writing on the Body (1988) lithographic crayon, pastel, chalk, oil stick, pigment, wax, book pages, photocopies, gauze, and plaster on wood panels  349.5 x 180.4 x 4.6 cm each  National Gallery of Canada  

  12. Lutz Bacher (USA) Huge Uterus (1989) video tape of operation to remove tumours 6 hours     

  13. Nell Tenhaaf (Canada) In Vitro (the perfect wound) (1990) 4 fluorescent lightboxes with 24 colour transparencies (Duratrans), plexiglas  153.8 x 125.8 x 20.2 cm  National Gallery of Canada  

  14. Sue Williams (USA) Big Fucking Deal (1991) acrylic paint, paper, collage on canvas 122.5 x 107 cm    Collection Goetz 

  15. Kathy High (USA) Underexposed: Temple of the Fetus (1993) video  60 min  Video Data Bank, Chicago  

  16. Alicja Zebrowska (Poland) Original sin - the presumed virtual reality project (1994) video installation, photography

  17. Anita Gratzer (Austria) Timeless (1997) installation       

  18. Ilona Nemeth (Hungary) Private Gynaecological Chairs, I, II, III (1997) gynaecological chairs covered in velvet, moss and rabbit skin       see exhibition Cross Female (Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin)

  19. Emily Kasahara (Japan) Pink (1997 - 2004) nine large-scale photos of women's cervixes, tinted in pink - later extended to 24 with text in artist's book      

  20. Paula Rego (UK, Portugal) Untitled 1-8 (The Abortion series) (1999) aquatint prints on paper 38 x 48 cm    Abbot Hall Gallery, Kendal 

  21. Suheir Isma'il Farraj (Palestine) Arab Diaries: Birth (1999) video 56 min     

  22. Natalya Turnova (Russia) Why are You Crying? (2000) acrylic paintings      

  23. Deirdre DeFranceaux and Jan Nunn (USA) The Cradle (2001) installation, steel, fiberglass, fabric, lightwire       

  24.  SubRosa (USA) The Economies of ART (2001) artist's pages (pamphlet from larger project)      

  25. Hiroko Okada (Japan) Future Plan #2 (2003) photo      

  26.  Womanifesto (Thailand) Procreation/Postcreation (2003) artist's book from international exchange programme      

  27. Cathy Wilkes (UK) She's Pregnant Again (2005) installation, mixed media /readymades     Arts Council Collection, GB 

  28. Xiao Lu (China) Sperm  (2006) performance/installation, Kangda Hotel, Yan’an, China      

  29. Maru Ituarte (Germany) Reproduction (2007) video, PAL, color, sound      

  30. Jalkhaajav Munkhtsetseg (Mongolia) Silence Series (2009) collage, painting on paper, about miscarriage      

  31. Mujeres Publicas (Argentina) Afiche-Escudo/Poster-shield (2009) poster/leaflets in campaign against backstreet abortions in Argentina      

  32. Marni Kotak (USA) The Birth of Baby X (2011) performance, giving birth to her first child, Microscope Gallery