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Born in New York City, Eunice Golden departed from her early studies in psychology at the University of Wisconsin to focus on her artwork. As a figurative expressionist, she eschewed pop and minimal art, and explored sexuality depicting the male nude. In the 1960’s, as her marriage was dissolving, Golden’s dramatic artwork converged with and paralleled the ideas expressed by the women’s liberation movement.

In 1971, Golden joined the Ad Hoc Committee for Women’s Art spearheaded by Lucy Lippard. In 1973, she joined the Fight Censorship group and was a founder of the women’s co-op gallery Soho 20 where her work was exhibited for nearly a decade. She attracted significant media attention including the New York Times, Art Forum, Ms. Magazine, and New York Magazine. Her revolutionary art, “Male Landscapes,” created a buzz among art historians who were documenting the emergence of feminist artists.

“If feminism is a consideration in assessing Golden’s work, it is because she deals explicitly with sex.” As opposed to other women artists, Golden seriously questioned what it meant to be a woman. (Art Forum, 1974)

Golden’s controversial and radical work challenged entrenched ideologies. In 1977, the Whitney included her signature work, “Landscape 160”, in “Nothing But Nudes,” which was applauded in Art International by Carter Ratcliff.

Throughout the 1980’s, Golden’s work evolved from body landscapes and portraits to satiric anthropomorphic studies. She also wrote a seminal article on the male nude in Heresies. The untimely death of Golden’s son in the 1990’s had a profound and devastating impact. Golden sought refuge in East Hampton where she produced her elegiac “Swimmers” series, based on the Mother and Child theme. This artistic departure was a rebirth in her life and work.

A major retrospective was launched in 2000 at the Westbeth Gallery, NYC featuring three decades of Golden’s work. In 2003, Holland Cotter in the New York Times hailed Golden’s mini-survey of 1960’s and 1970’s work at the Mitchell Algus Gallery, Chelsea, New York. In addition, Golden was included in “Personal & Political: The Women’s Art Movement 1969-1975,” at East Hampton’s Guild Hall Museum. Her work is included in the encyclopedic catalog of the exhibition, “WACK!:Art and The Feminist  Revolution 1965-80,” along  with being included on the Brooklyn Museum website of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Feminist Art Center.     #


On The Early Seminal Work of The 1960s - 70s

     In the 1960’s, while painting the male anatomy, I didn’t consider that it would be construed as heretical and revolutionary. Stifled by the existing definitions of wife and mother, this work was a stream of consciousness outpouring of emotionally and sensually charged images that reflected who I was: a heterosexual woman with erotic needs and fantasies, yet struggling to redefine myself.

My artistic intention was not political. In retrospect, I saw that I had unwittingly addressed, on a subliminal level, ideologies, experiences, and perceptions of a broad audience. Suddenly I was engaged in dialogue, thrust against a backdrop of controversy and censorship. I catapulted into the women’s movement, wrestling with the salient socio - political issues regarding cultural and political change.

Many feminist artists were asserting their experiences by creating “central core imagery” which was decidedly auto erotic. Although rendered by women, the female nude, now clothed in new “labels” of power, could easily be misconstrued by men who had always looked at and objectified women’s bodies. My work, “Male Landscapes”, addressed the “phallacy” of male power – its vulnerability to and dependence on a female audience. I as a woman became the voyeur – my powerful erotic gaze was fixed upon the male – which was a strike against the historical bias of the male nude as a subject for women artists.

As my work evolved, the body remained the vehicle, the experience-acquiring medium, and the very core of my art. I conceived the human form as a landscape where sensual and spiritual messages leap and interconnect – a psychosexual gestalt where the wires of our human architecture spark with vital physicality, powerful emotions, and an energizing erotic force. Distance is eliminated and the viewer’s own experience is ignited.

Body experience is central to an understanding of my photographic and cinematic works. Here I explore the flesh as a canvas – embellished with paint, text, and food. All these works have aspects of symbolic behavior, expressing the basic and primal, and the universal nature of rituals.

There exists a strong continuity within my oeuvre. The “Male Landscapes” made the sexual colossal, yet intimate. Works that followed capture the immediacy of closeness, from the portraits of mother/son/daughter, to the anthropomorphic studies, and “The Swimmers” series which was influenced by the untimely death of my son. In current works, I have delved into yet another metamorphosis of visceral sensation in surreal abstract forms. For all the apparent differences in style, content, or technique, the common thread in all my work is the power of intimacy.    #                                                                                                           

© 2007 Eunice Golden

The Male Nude in Women’s Art: Dialectics of a Feminist Iconography

For women to take control of their own image-making processes, they must become aware of the dialectics of eroticism and power and why such imagery is taboo - especially potent phallic imagery like the erect penis. It  is important for women to reclaim their sexuality, free from male precepts, and find their own imagery, their own awareness of themselves, and  not only from an auto erotic or narcissistic point of view. There should be a place in women’s art where intimacy can be defined in terms that are very broadly sexual: a prophetic art whose richness of fantasy may unleash a healthy appetite for a greater sense awareness as well as unmask the fallacies of male power.          #

Excerpt from an article: Heresies’  “Sex Issue” Vol. 3, No. 4, Issue 12, p.42             

© 1981 Eunice Golden

On The Recent Work 2003-07: The Metamorphosis Series

     My current work is an organic and stream of consciousness response to a physiologically and psychologically felt experience. Whereas my earlier work of the 1970s  (paintings, photographs and films) was sexually specific and involved in figuration, especially the figure of the male nude, my current work shifts the focus from sexually specific to a more subconscious abstraction of these feelings.

I am attempting to express in visual terms, the inner depths of my feelings -  physiological and psychological - where I am concerned with tactility and the sensation of touch: but also of  thought on a primal level, where there are no boundaries, where natural phenomena are blurred by processes of metamorphosis.

Hence the paintings. activated and animated by rapid short or long strokes, sometimes illuminated and highlighted by a metallic pigment, have organic forms that reference elements in nature and are sometimes experienced as a meltdown, and / or an unusual outgrowth of memories or of  things seen peripherally in my mind’s eye. These elements can be fused, or can be fragmented.

My stream of consciousness yields countless images, resulting in strange metamorphoses

which may produce ambiguity and subsequent tension.

I am attempting to achieve more than a superficially sensational response. By exploring my own personal psychodynamics through these paintings. I feel that I am engaging in a dialogue with a universal consciousness that goes far beyond dreams and historic surrealistic expression. In this sense, I feel that my paintings are psychological,  philosophical, and spiritual in essence.    #

© 2007 Eunice Golden


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