Here we list all the new books 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).
For young readers
Alma’s Art, by Roda Ahmed, illustrated by Anita Cheung. Publisher: Hightree Publishing, 2022.
Alma’s Art is inspired by African American painter Alma Woodsey Thomas, the treasured expressionist who made her national debut in the art world at age 80. Alma kept beauty and happiness at the forefront of her painting technique, studying how light and color worked together in the shapes and patterns on her canvases. Alma’s Art is an important book to paint young minds with broad strokes that celebrate the colors of our world.
A Revolution on Canvas: The Rise of Women Artists in Britain and France, 1760–1830, by Paris Spies-Gans. Publisher: Paul Mellon Centre, 2022; North American publisher, Yale University Press.
This groundbreaking book argues that exactly as political citizenship was being defined as a male privilege, women entered the public sphere as professional artists in significant numbers for the first time. Its subjects include a number of increasingly well-known painters, such as Angelica Kauffman, Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, and Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, alongside many other artists who were lauded in their own times but are little-known in ours. The book challenges several longstanding assumptions and myths about women’s artistic activity during this period. Ultimately it presents overwhelming evidence to contend that with their art, women engaged profoundly with the cultural, political, and economic currents of the Revolutionary era, navigating institutional inequalities that were often expressly designed to exclude members of their sex in order to forge profitable artistic identities.
Read Tabitha Barber’s review of this book for The Art Newspaper.
Françoise Gilot: The Years in France, edited by Elisa Farran and Annie Maïllis. Publisher: Silvana Editoriale, 2022.
Françoise Gilot’s “French years” reveal an oeuvre that remains too little known, especially in France: after all, Gilot had dared to leave Picasso, who had instructed galleries and critics to reject her, and had told the story of her life with him in a bestselling volume, and had migrated to the US. Published in honor of the artist’s 100th birthday, Françoise Gilot: The Years in France corrects this deliberate eclipse of Gilot’s accomplishment as a painter. Containing more than 90 color images of her paintings and drawings, this hardcover book gives a complete overview of this formative moment in her career.
Women’s Work: From Feminine Arts to Feminist Art, by Ferren Gipson. Publisher: The Quarto Group, 2022.
In the history of western art, decorative and applied arts—including textiles and ceramics—have been separated from the “high arts” of painting and sculpture, and deemed to be more suitable for women. Artists began to reclaim and redefine these materials and methods, energizing them with expressions of identity and imagination. Women’s Work tells the story of this radical change, highlighting some of the modern and contemporary artists who dared to defy this hierarchy and who, through, experimentation and invention, transformed their medium. With biographical entries on each artist featured, as well as beautiful images of their artworks, Women’s Work raises up the work of these visionary and groundbreaking artists, telling their stories and examining their artistic legacies.
Marina Abramović, by Ossian Ward. Publisher: Laurence King, 2022.
Marina Abramović has truly pioneered performance as a visual art form. Her work—notorious for its feats of endurance, pain and intense physical encounter—has pushed the boundaries of contemporary art and cemented her reputation as one of the most significant artists of the past 50 years. This book brings her complete practice together into one concise and essential volume.
Katharina Grosse: Cloud in the Shape of a Sword, edited by Rosemarie Schwarzwälder. Publisher: Hirmer Publishers, 2022.
Grosse’s colorful interventions have had a powerful influence on debates in contemporary art; her expansive paintings celebrate the processual and the unfinished. This handsome publication, completed in direct cooperation with the artist and her studio, leads the reader through Grosse’s multidimensional work and illustrates the broad creative spectrum of this exceptional artist’s oeuvre through the most recent examples of her in situ praxis.
Käthe Kollwitz: A Survey of Her Work 1867–1945, edited by Hannelore Fischer. Publisher: Hirmer Publishers, 2022.
With her great cycles of graphic works, Käthe Kollwitz demonstrated her skills as a graphic artist at an early stage in a remarkable manner. From the start of her career her etchings, lithographs and woodcuts were included in the collections of renowned art institutes. Her fame as an artist grew steadily and was acknowledged by countless awards. In 1919 she was even the first woman to be appointed professor by the Prussian Academy of Arts. This new monograph presents with unprecedented density the life and work of Käthe Kollwitz, one of the most important German artists of Classic Modernism.
Read Dorothy Price’s review of this book for The Art Newspaper.
Wendat Women’s Arts, by Annette W. de Stecher. Publisher: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2022.
For centuries, women artists of the Wendat First Nation of Wendake in Quebec have created artworks of intricate design and complex meaning in moosehair and quill embroidery. Their work records and transmits ancestral knowledge across generations of artists and remains a vibrant and important practice today. Breaking new ground in Indigenous art histories, Wendat Women’s Arts is the first book to bring together a full history of the Wendat embroidery art form. Annette de Stecher challenges the historical anonymity of Indigenous women artists by arguing for their central role in community history and ceremony. In vibrant illustrations, this book reconstructs the rich repertoire of Wendat embroidery now dispersed in collections throughout the world.
All Becomes Art: Volume 1, Writing inspired by Joan Eardley, edited by Colin Herd and Sam Small. Publisher: Speculative Books, 2022.
This anthology brings together poems and other writings that respond to the paintings and drawings of Joan Eardley, in celebration of the centenary of her birth in 2021. It includes writings by William Bonar, Max Scratchmann, Sarah-Clare Conlon, Rachel Fox, Maggie Mackay, Ellen Galford, Donal McLaughlin, Elaine Webster,Georgina Coburn, Cailean McBride, Tom Docherty, Helen Tookey, Sheila Bryer, Annie Kissack, Cynthia Fuller, Tamar Yoseloff, Deborah Tyler-Bennett, Kay Ritchie, Jane George, James McGonigal, Marka Rifat, Jock Stein, Amy B. Moreno, Sonya Macdonald, William Hume, Loretta Mulholland, Kirsty Niven, Emily Ilett, Solomon Jessie, Lindsay Macgregor, Jerry Simcock, Susannah White, Lynn Valentine, Eileen Farrelly, Alison Cohen, C.M. Strong, Juliet Antill, Olive M. Ritch, Joan Lennon, Pippa Little, Charlotte Cosgrove, Rebecca Smith, Seth Crook, Colin Campbell Robinson, Charles Fletcher, Mark Coverdale, Lynda McDonald, Gerrie Fellows, Maria Sledmere, Maria Sledmere, Jay Whittaker, Susan Miller, Jessica Cooper, Colin Rutherford, Kathrine Sowerby, Linda Kemp, and Sean Turner McLeod..
Letters to Gwen John, by Celia Paul. Publisher: New York Review Books, 2022.
Celia Paul’s Letters to Gwen John centers on a series of letters addressed to the Welsh painter Gwen John (1876–1939), who has long been a tutelary spirit for Paul. John spent much of her life in France, making art on her own terms and, like Paul, painting mostly women. John’s reputation was overshadowed during her lifetime by her brother, Augustus John, and her lover Auguste Rodin. Through the epistolary form, Paul draws fruitful comparisons between John’s life and her own: their shared resolve to protect the sources of their creativity, their fierce commitment to painting, and the ways in which their associations with older male artists affected the public’s reception of their work.
Women Painting Women, edited with text by Andrea Karnes; preface by Marla Price; text by Emma Amos, Faith Ringgold, and Lorna Simpson. Publisher: DelMonico Books, 2022.
A thematic exploration of nearly 50 female artists who choose women as subject matter in their works, Women Painting Women includes nearly 50 portraits that span the 1960s to the present. International in scope, the book recognizes female perspectives that have been underrepresented in the history of postwar figuration. The pivotal narrative in Women Painting Women is how the artists included use the conventional portrait of a woman as a catalyst to tell another story outside of male interpretations of the female body. Replete with complexities, realness, abjection, beauty, complications, everydayness and joy, the portraits in this volume make way for women artists to share the stage with their male counterparts in defining the image of woman and how it has evolved.
Similar Art Herstory posts:
Ten Intriguing Books About Remarkable Women Artists, a guest post by Carol M. Cram