For millennia, the phallus has dominated most of what we call Western society, the infallible power of the patriarchy ever-present in towering skyscrapers, monuments, and even remote controls. That ceaseless worship of the cock was visible in art since before it was “art,” and then in public zones and now, around every corner, in our biggest museums. Well, enough of that. Down with the patriarchy, and down with the artistic phallus.
Vaginas have always been present in art, too, but, unlike the always-vocal cock, they weren’t yelling at us about it this whole time. However, just as feminism has rightfully amplified the voice of women, so, too, has the art of the past century begun to increase the visibility of the vagina. Through walk-in installations, plaster molds, 3D-printed vagina kayaks, and plain old vagina dedications, yonic artwork is becoming more and more visible in the art world. We’ve collected some of the most significant in the following slideshow. Enjoy!
Jamie McCartney, “Great Wall of Vagina,” 2011.
Jamie McCartney‘s “Great Wall of Vagina,” though saddled with a laughable name, works toward a just cause: comprised of casts of vaginas, the piece hopes to celebrate and display the individuality of the vagina. McCartney wants us all to know that vaginas come in all shapes and sizes, which is great! It also adds to the quality of the work, because, while a wall of vaginas is going to be nice to look at regardless of the quality of the labia, it’s important that each panel offers something new.
Judy Chicago, “The Dinner Party.” 1974-79.
Judy Chicago, “Virginia Woolf.” 1974-79.
Judy Chicago‘s “The Dinner Party,” created over five years in the late ’70s, was not an immediate smash, but through extensive touring it began to achieve fame and eventually found a permanent home at the Brooklyn Museum. The installation features dozens of place settings of prominent women in three different, time-based wings: Prehistory to Classical Rome; Christianity to the Reformation; and American Revolution to the Women’s Revolution, which is where the above Virginia Woolf dedication falls.
Antony, “Untitled.” 2013.
Best known for her work as a musician, Antony Hegarty is also an accomplished artist. The above work, “Untitled,” is part of a larger collection, The Cut, which examines the artist’s transition from male to female. This is the most subtle piece of yonic work on this list, which explains why it also manages to be the most striking.
Nikki de Saint Phalle, Jean Tinguely, and Per Olof Ultvedt, “Hon-en Katedrall” at Moderna Museet, Stockholm. 1966.
Nikki de Saint Phalle was a French artist perhaps best remembered for her wildly colorful and voluptuous public figurative sculptures. This piece, “Hon-en Katedrall” (literally “She – a cathedral”) was a grand collaboration with Dadaist Jean Tinguely and artist Per Olof Ultivedt. Installed in Stockholm’s Moderna Museet, it was a larger-than-life experience that allowed visitors to pass through the vagina and into the body of the sculpture, inside of which there were films on a constant loop. Oh, there was also a milk bar in the breast of the woman and an aquarium in the uterus. Truly, the body was a wonderland.
Watch the video below for a quasi-tour of the place.
Fernando de la Jara, “Chacán-Pi” at the Institute of Microbiology at Tübingen University in Germany
Fernando de la Jara‘s “Chacán-Pi” was constructed, according to the artist, to pay homage to the healing spirit of the nearby school of microbiology. He also said the giant verona marble vagina was intended to be “entered,” but this thing became famous because of the fact that a student took his advice and entered it completely. And was unable to get out.
Megumi Igarashi, 2013.
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi, who operates under the pseudonym Rokudenashiko (meaning something close to “bad girl”), has spent most of her adult life trying to fight for the vagina’s right to be as visible as the penis in Japan, where vaginas are especially taboo. She’s made plenty of small-scale yonic works, but she’s most infamous for creating a kayak topped with a massive 3D-printed sculpture of her vagina. Further proving the Japanese squeamishness around vaginas, Igarashi was arrested on charges of obscenity for emailing the above photo of the 3D printing process to folks who had backed her vagina kayak Kickstarter project, though she was eventually released.
Anish Kapoor, “Dirty Corner,” at Versailles. 2015.
Anish Kapoor, who is perhaps most famous for his public Chicago work “Cloud Gate” (also more famously known as the “bean,” a term suddenly much more apt in the context of this piece), Kapoor most recently made waves by installing “Dirty Corner,” a big ol’ yonic sculpture on the grounds of Versailles. It is, according to Kapoor, meant to symbolize the vagina of the Queen coming into power, though his point was not clear to at least one tourist, who said, “It’s confusing, a big vagina and a palace.”
Aidan Salahova, “Black Stone.” 2011.
Aidan Salakhova, “Waiting Bride.” 2010.
Aidan Salakhova, a Moscow-based conceptual artist, created two of the most beautiful pieces of work on this list: “Black Stone” and “Waiting Bride.” Both are only vaguely yonic, which makes them all the more striking — unless you’re in the government of Azerbaijan, who decided to have them censored at their showing at the Venice Biennale in 2011.
Reshma Chhiba‘s “The Two Talking Yonis” is perhaps subtly indebted to “Hon-en Katedrall,” but where that installation was fueled on whimsy, “The Two Talking Yonis” is fueled by rage. Installed in a decommissioned women’s prison in Johannesburg, the installation features rooms filled with odd, irregular stalactites and is soundtracked by little more than the screams of women. Made from red velvet and cotton, the entire thing is only 39 feet long. Chhiba has referred to it as a symbolic representation of female energy. “It’s a global vagina. It’s scary to people raised with certain patriarchal values.”
Georgia O’Keeffe, “Black Iris III.” 1926.
Painter Georgia O’Keeffe was best known for her renditions of flowers, such as “Black Iris III,” but throughout her life she insisted that their yonic context was manufactured by outside interpretation. That is to say, according to O’Keeffe, she didn’t set out to paint billows of labia in sensuous color. And yet, the fact that her intentions lie elsewhere amplifies the power of the yonic artwork, suggesting that the vagina has attained the power of the penis, meaning that it has reached a saturation point in the collective consciousness that allows for a reading of the vagina into anything and everything, just as the phallus has done for time eternity. Well done, Georgia. Well done.