Here we list all the new publications about women artists — from the past, and also from the present — that have come to our attention, published in the second quarter of this calendar year. Each description is drawn from the blurb on the publisher’s website. If you know of other titles that should be on this list, please let us know by comment or by email (Erika@artherstory.net).
Leonora in the Morning Light, by Michaela Carter. Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2021.
Leonora in the Morning Light is a page-turning novel about Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington and the art, drama, and romance that defined her coming-of-age during World War II. Based on true events and historical figures, Leonora in the Morning Light is an unforgettable story of love, art, and destiny that restores a twentieth-century heroine to her rightful place in our collective imagination.
The Bohemians, by Jasmin Darznik. Publisher: Penguin Random House, 2021.
American photographer Dorothea Lange is the protagonist of The Bohemians, which captures a glittering and gritty 1920s San Francisco. The novel includes a cast of unforgettable characters, including cameos from such legendary figures as Mabel Dodge Luhan, Frida Kahlo, Ansel Adams, and D. H. Lawrence. The novel follows Dorothea’s story, as her sense of purpose is awakened and she grows into the figure we know from history—the artist whose iconic Depression-era photographs like “Migrant Mother” broke the hearts and opened the eyes of a nation.
For young readers
Fearless World Traveler: Adventures of Marianne North, Botanical Artist, by Laurie Lawlor, illustrated by Becca Stadtlander. Publisher: Holiday House, 2021.
Self-taught artist and scientist Marianne North (1830–1890) subverted Victorian gender roles and advanced the field of botanical illustration. Her technique of painting specimens in their natural environment was groundbreaking. The legendary Charles Darwin was among her many supporters. In this book, Laurie Lawlor deftly chronicles North’s life, from her restrictive childhood to her wild world travels, to the opening of the Marianne North Gallery at Kew Gardens, to her death in 1890. Becca Stadtlander’s award-winning lush, verdant artwork pairs wonderfully with the natural themes. (For ages 6–9)
Nicole Eisenman, by Dan Cameron. Publisher: Lund Humphries, 2021.
As an artist, Nicole Eisenman (b.1965) challenges convention and encourages viewers to construe meanings from images that demand interrogation and debate. Illustrating paintings spanning the early 1990s to the present day, Dan Cameron unpacks the complexities of Eisenman’s oeuvre via thematic chapters that address key ideas which emerge when drawing specific works together. This first major account of Eisenman’s painting career presents a clear analysis of the primary motivators that have fuelled the imagination of one of the most interesting and original contemporary artists working today.
Nina Hamnett, by Alicia Foster. Publisher: Eiderdown Books, 2021.
Nina Hamnett (1890–1956) was an artist, illustrator and writer who was associated with the bohemian and avant-garde circles of the London and Parisian art scenes in the first decades of the twentieth century. Alicia Foster brings together works by the artist from public and private collections to foreground the accomplishments of a talented and ambitious woman who wasn’t afraid to do things differently. In this book, for the first time, Nina Hamnett is celebrated as an artist in her own right.
Becoming Artists: Self-Portraits, Friendship Images and Studio Scenes by Nordic Women Painters in the 1880s, by Carina Rech. Publisher: Makadam Publishers, 2021.
Carina Rech’s Becoming Artists integrates thoughtful and probing epistolary analysis and careful observation of select self-portraits, paintings of artists’ studios, and friendship paintings to interrogate how a pioneering generation of Nordic women painters fashioned their roles as worker-artists using emulation, collaboration, and appropriation. Through her narrow focus on a handful of mostly Swedish middle-class painters and sculptors active in the 1880s, Rech ably examines women’s networks, studios, travels, and personal and professional artistic development. The book is available in Open Access format at the link above.
Read Alice M. Rudy Price’s review of this book in Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide.
Modern Women Artists in the Nordic Countries, 1900–1960, edited by Kerry Greaves. Publisher: Routledge, 2021.
This transnational volume examines innovative women artists who were from, or worked in, Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sápmi, and Sweden from the emergence of modernism until the feminist movement took shape in the 1960s. The book addresses the culturally specific conditions that shaped Nordic artists’ contributions, brings the latest methodological and feminist approaches to bear on Nordic art history, and engages a wide international audience through the contributors’ subject matter and analysis. Artists covered include Else Alfelt, Pia Arke, Franciska Clausen, Jessie Kleemann, Hilma af Klint, Sonja Ferlov Mancoba, Greta Knutson, Aase Texmon Rygh, Hannah Ryggen, Júlíana Sveinsdóttir, Ellen Thesleff, and Astri Aasen.
Diana Armfield: A Lyrical Eye, by Andrew Lambirth. Publisher: Paul Holberton Publishing, 2021.
Diana Armfield: A Lyrical Eye charts Diana’s personal and artistic journey with over 200 beautiful reproductions of her work, tracing favourite subjects and events—from a Welsh landscape to an informal flower display or the much-loved location of a painting trip in Italy or France. Andrew Lambirth’s interview also explores the unique bond with her husband, painter Bernard Dunstan, who died in 2017, looking at how two leading artists interwove their personal and creative lives over a marriage of almost 70 years. As well as this interview, Andrew has contributed an essay on Diana’s work to the book.
Catherine Opie and Friends, with essays by Hilton Als, Douglas Fogle, Helen Molesworth, and Elizabeth A. T. Smith, and an interview by Charlotte Cotton. Publisher: Phaidon, 2021.
For almost 40 years, Catherine Opie has been documenting with psychological acuity the cultural and geographic identity of contemporary America. Long awaited, this unique artist monograph presents a compelling visual narrative of Opie’s work since the early 1980s, pairing images across bodies of work to form a full picture of her artistic vision. With more than 300 beautiful illustrations and made in close collaboration with Opie, the book marks a turning point in the consideration of this artist’s work to date.
Sylvie Fleury: Bedroom Ensemble II, edited by Lionel Bovier with text by Thierry Davila, Ingrid Luquet-Gad. Publisher: Mamco Geneva, 2021.
Swiss mixed-media artist Sylvie Fleury (b. 1961) has long been interested in depicting the juncture of materialism and materiality in contemporary consumer culture. Her 1998 installation Bedroom Ensemble IIdraws directly from soft sculpture artist Claes Oldenberg, who also created bedroom installations under the same title. Fleury’s piece amplifies and subverts Oldenberg’s ideas with her own vocabulary of textures and colors. This book is the first comprehensive study of Bedroom Ensemble II and its relationship to the other Fleury pieces in MAMCO Geneva’s collection.
Lives of Artemisia Gentileschi, introduced by Sheila Barker. Publisher: Getty Publications, 2021.
Lending further insight into the extraordinary life of a trailblazing artist, this volume presents an absorbing collection of letters, biographies, and court testimonies supplemented with essays written by contemporaries, several of which are published here in English for the first time. The vivid illustrations include three works that have only recently been attributed to Gentileschi. An introduction by Sheila Barker, founding director of the Jane Fortune Research Program on Women Artists, contextualizes these texts and discusses Gentileschi’s legacy.
Alice Neel: People Come First, by Kelly Baum and Randall Griffey, with contributions by Meredith A. Brown, Julia Bryan-Wilson, and Susanna V. Temkin. Publisher: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2021.
This catalog of MOMA’s 2021 Neel retrospective surveys the artist’s nearly 70-year career through the lens of her radical humanism. Remarkable portraits of fellow residents of Spanish Harlem, leaders of political organizations, queer artists, and many others, reveal that Neel viewed humanism as both a political and philosophical ideal. Essays tackle Neel’s portrayal of LGBTQ subjects; her unique aesthetic language; and her commitment to progressive politics, civil rights, feminism, and racial diversity. The authors also explore Neel’s preoccupations with death, illness, and motherhood while reasserting her place in the broader cultural history of the 20th century.
Eileen Agar: Angel of Anarchy, edited and with text by Laura Smith and Grace Storey, with text by Marina Warner, Daisy Lafarge and Andrew Lambirth. Publisher: Whitechapel Gallery, 2021.
Throughout her 70-year career, Eileen Agar brought together the abstract qualities of Cubism with the anarchic tendencies of Surrealism. Her unique style nimbly spanned painting, collage, photography and sculpture. This comprehensive exhibition catalog explores the range of Agar’s work. It includes full colour illustrations of all works in the exhibition, as well as archival sketches, experimental collages, and exhibition ephemera. The book also features a selection of previously unpublished writings by Agar. Unusually, it is published with four different color covers, which the publisher chooses at random for each order.
Georgia O’Keeffe, text by Catherine Millet, Marta Ruiz del Árbol, Ariel Plotek, Didier Ottinger. Contributions by Dale Kronkright, Susana Pérez, Andrés Sánchez Ledesma, Ubaldo Sedano, Marta Palao, and Anna Hiddleston-Galloni. Publisher: D.A.P./Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2021.
This exhibition catalog gives an account of the first retrospective in Spain of Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986). Through a selection of approximately 80 works, it immerses us in the pictorial universe of the artist, considered one of the greatest representatives of North American art of the 20th century. Offering a complete survey of Georgia O’Keeffe’s illustrious career, the book ranges from the works produced between 1910 and 1920 that made the artist a pioneer of abstraction, to her celebrated flower paintings and views of New York, which led to her recognition as one of the key figures in modern American art. It culminates with her paintings of New Mexico.
Kusama: Cosmic Nature, edited by Mika Yoshitake and Joanna L. Groarke, with text by Alexandra Munroe, Jenni Sorkin, and Karen Daubmann. Publisher: Rizzoli New York, 2021.
Kusama: Cosmic Nature accompanies the first comprehensive exploration of Yayoi Kusama’s enduring fascination with the natural world, exhibited across the 250-acre landscape of The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG). The editors bring together essays by art historians, curators, and a scientist, who each present unique interpretations of Kusama’s engagement with the natural world. Featuring more than 120 drawings, paintings, sculptures, and archival photographs, including stunning views of the works displayed in NYBG’s gardens and galleries, Kusama: Cosmic Nature offers a new perspective on one of the world’s most celebrated contemporary artists.
Barbara Kruger: Thinking of You, I Mean Me, I Mean You, edited with text by Peter Eleey, Robyn Farrell, Michael Govan, Rebecca Morse, James Rondeau. Foreword by Michael Govan, Glenn D. Lowry, James Rondeau. Essay by Zoé Whitley. Publisher: Delmonico Books, 2021.
Since the mid-1970s, Barbara Kruger (born 1945) has been interrogating the hierarchies of power and control in works that often combine visual and written language. In her singular graphic style, Kruger probes aspects of identity, desire and consumerism that are embedded in our everyday lives. This volume traces her continuously evolving practice to reveal how she adapts her work in accordance with the moment, site, and context. Featuring a range of striking images—from her analogue paste-ups of the 1980s to digital productions of the last two decades, it includes new works produced on the occasion of the exhibition.
Sophie Taeuber-Arp: Living Abstraction, edited by Anne Umland, Walburga Krupp with Charlotte Healy. Publisher: The Museum of Modern Art, 2021.
Published to accompany the first retrospective in the US in 40 years of the artist’s work, Sophie Taeuber-Arp: Living Abstraction presents a comprehensive survey of this multifaceted innovator’s wide-ranging body of work. It establishes unequivocally her place in the pantheon of 20th-century abstract art. richly illustrated catalog explores the artist’s interdisciplinary and cross-pollinating approach to abstraction through some four hundred works, including textiles, beadwork, polychrome marionettes, architectural and interior designs, stained-glass windows, works on paper, paintings, and relief sculptures.
Arlene Shechet: Skirts, text by Rachel Silveri and interview by Deborah Solomon and Michaela Mohrmann. Publisher: Pace Publishing, 2021.
Made for Arlene Shechet’s 2020 solo exhibition Skirts, this richly illustrated catalog features color reproductions, including details and installation views, of recent assemblages by the New York-based sculptor. Shechet discusses her practice in two new interviews alongside an essay by scholar Rachel Silveri, who explores the lively work in conversation with and as a feminist intervention in the history of modern art.
Now in paperback
Alice Neel: The Art of Not Speaking Pretty, by Phoebe Hoban. Publisher: David Zwirner Books, 2021.
A quintessential bohemian, Alice Neel was one of the first artists participating in the Easel Project of the Works Progress Administration, documenting the challenges of life during the Depression. An avowed humanist, Neel chose to paint the world around her, sticking to figurative work even during the peak of abstract expressionism. Neel never ceased pushing the envelope, creating a unique chronicle of her time. In this first paperback edition of the authoritative biography of Neel, Phoebe Hoban documents the tumultuous life of the artist in vivid detail, creating a portrait as incisive as Neel’s relentlessly honest paintings. With a new introduction by Hoban that explores Neel’s enduring relevance, this biography is essential to understanding and appreciating the life and work of one of America’s foremost artists.
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New Books about Women Artists | Jan–March 2022
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New Books About History’s Women Artists | Jan–March 2021
New Books About History’s Women Artists | Oct–Dec 2020
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I’ve been dismayed by the recent discussion which appears to argue that more exhibitions of women artists are not what we need to promote art by women. Exhibitions are of course what got me in through gallery doors in the first place to see works by women, not just a handful of them but often a life’s work, and it’s very clear that they generate the research that’s crucial and they promote and disseminate that research through the catalogues, some excellent examples reviewed here. So more please, more work on permanent display, more in collections, more acquisitions, more research, more conservation, more temporary exhibitions, more research, more catalogues, more books, more opportunities to see all that we can, wherever and whenever.