Pat Larter, a pioneering artist in the realm of ‘femail’ art, challenged societal norms and gender stereotypes through her provocative and confrontational work. Born in Australia in 1936, Larter became known for her subversive depictions of women, often turning the male gaze on its head by objectifying men in a manner reminiscent of the typical portrayal of women in media.

Larter’s artistic journey began in the 1960s when she started collaborating with her husband, Richard Larter, who was also an artist. Together, they delved into the realm of pop art, exploring themes of consumerism, sexuality, and popular culture. However, it was Larter’s solo work that truly pushed the boundaries and garnered attention for its bold and audacious statements.

One of Larter’s most notable series was her ‘Playmates’ collection, where she appropriated the imagery and aesthetics of Playboy magazine to create her own version of pin-up girls – only with a twist. Instead of featuring scantily clad women as objects of desire, Larter turned the tables by portraying men in similar poses, often with exaggerated features and a sense of irony. This inversion of gender roles challenged the traditional power dynamics inherent in mainstream depictions of sexuality.

Through her ‘Playmates’ series, Larter aimed to highlight the absurdity of the male gaze and the objectification of women in popular culture. By flipping the script and placing men in the role of the objectified, she forced viewers to confront their own preconceptions about gender and sexuality. In doing so, Larter effectively critiqued the pervasive influence of patriarchal norms on the representation of women in art and media.

Beyond her ‘Playmates’ series, Larter continued to explore themes of femininity, sexuality, and identity throughout her career. She experimented with a variety of mediums, including painting, collage, and performance art, always pushing the boundaries of what was considered acceptable or taboo.

Despite her groundbreaking work, Larter’s contributions to the art world were often overshadowed by her male contemporaries. As a woman working in a male-dominated field, she faced discrimination and marginalization, yet she persisted in creating art that challenged conventions and sparked important conversations about gender and power.

Today, Larter’s legacy lives on as a trailblazer in the realm of feminist art. Her bold and unapologetic exploration of gender and sexuality continues to inspire artists around the world to question established norms and strive for greater representation and equality in the arts. Pat Larter may have given men the ‘Playboy treatment,’ but in doing so, she empowered women and challenged the status quo, leaving an indelible mark on the world of contemporary art.