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. Do you know of other titles that should be on this list? Please let us know by comment or by email (Erika@artherstory.net).
Elisabetta Sirani (1638–1665) was one of the most innovative and prolific artists of the Bolognese School. Not only a painter, she was also a printmaker and a teacher. Elisabetta Sirani provides an overview of the life, work, critical fortune and legacy of this successful Baroque artist. It draws on extensive archival documentation and primary sources—including inventories, sale catalogues and her work diary. Placing her within the context of post-Tridentine society, Modesti explores Sirani’s identity as both a woman and an artist. Modesti’s analysis takes in the artist’s professional ambition, self-fashioning and literary construction as Bologna’s pre-eminent cultural heroine.
In 2023 we celebrate the 350th anniversary of the birth of Rosalba Carriera (1673–1757), one of the most famous women artists in 18th-century Europe. This timely illustrated biography presents an overview of her life and work, considering Carriera’s miniatures alongside her better-known, larger-scale works. The book interprets Carriera’s paintings in the historical context of her life as a single woman in Venice. It offers an easy guide through Carriera´s life, the people she met, her clients and her artistic approach. The author’s new iconographic analysis of some of Carriera’s works reveals that she was an erudite painter. Oberer traces how she drew on antiquity and the work of virtuosos such as Leonardo da Vinci and Paolo Veronese.
A Curious Herbal: Elizabeth Blackwell’s Pioneering Masterpiece of Botanical Art, Edited by Marta McDowell, with text by Janet Stiles Tyson. Publisher: Abbeville Press, 2023.
In the 1730s, Elizabeth Blackwell (1699–c. 1758) found herself penniless, with her ne’er-do-well husband confined to a London debtor’s prison. A talented artist, she came up with a unique and ambitious moneymaking scheme. She published a new illustrated guide to medicinal plants, including many New World species not depicted in earlier books. Blackwell’s Curious Herbal, was hailed for its usefulness to doctors and apothecaries and met with considerable financial success. This magnificent volume—the first modern edition of Blackwell’s herbal—reproduces all five hundred of her exquisite plates. This book features a previously unknown preface by Blackwell. Two introductory texts contextualize Blackwell’s achievement.
Nineteenth-Century Women Illustrators and Cartoonists, Edited by Joanna Devereux. Publisher: Manchester University Press, 2023.
This collection provides an in-depth analysis of fifteen women illustrators of the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The artists covered include Jemima Blackburn, Eleanor Vere Boyle, Marianne North, Amelia Francis Howard-Gibbon, Mary Ellen Edwards, Edith Hume, Alice Barber Stephens, Florence and Adelaide Claxton, Marie Duval, Amy Sawyer, Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale, Pamela Colman Smith and Olive Allen Biller. The chapters consider these women’s natural history illustrations, art for periodicals and books, and cartoons and caricatures.
Lucy Kemp-Welch 1869–1958: The Life and Work of Lucy Kemp-Welch, Painter of Horses, by David Boyd Haycock. Publisher: ACC Art Books, 2023.
David Boyd Haycock’s new, extensively illustrated biography of Lucy Kemp-Welch brings this remarkable artist into sharp focus. Kemp-Welch illustrated Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, and was commissioned to paint images for the Government during the First World War. Her r4mural Women’s Work in the Great War was placed in the Royal Exchange in London, where it remains today. Boyd-Haycock shines new light on Kemp-Welch’s life, reflecting on her as a female painter in a male-dominated environment. Alongside Kemp-Welch’s paintings, the book features exclusive period photographs of the artist herself, shown at work and in her studio.
Francesca Woodman: The Artist’s Books (by Francesca Woodman). Publisher: MACK, 2023.
Francesca Woodman: The Artist’s Books collects for the first time every page of all eight of Francesca Woodman’s unique artist’s books. The comprehensive volume includes two newly discovered books along with better-known titles such as Some Disordered Interior Geometries. The basis of these works is in tattered nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century journals and notebooks that Woodman collected from bookshops and flea markets in Rome in the late 1970s. She later transformed these found volumes, attaching her prints, transparencies, and written annotations to their evocative pages. These books demonstrate a sophisticated relationship to narrative and sequence and offer a new understanding of the scope of Woodman’s engagement with the book form. A special edition will be available later this year.
Rosalba Carriera: Perfection in Pastel, Edited by Roland Enke and Stephan Koja. Publisher: Sandstein Verlag, 2023.
As noted above, 2023 marks the 350th anniversary of the birth of Rosalba Carriera, the most famous pastel painter of the 18th century. In Dresden, in the Gemäldegalerie that opened in 1746, a total of 157 of her pastels went on display in what was known as the “Cabinet of Rosalba.” This book traces the history of this unique collection and presents the 73 pastels remaining in Dresden today—still the world’s largest concentration of her art. Carriera created a visual vernacular that gave expression to the social type of the lively and self-confident woman—a type she herself embodied. By devoting herself to art and pursuing an enviable career as an independent artist, she serves as an early role model for feminist artists.
The exhibition of which the book is the catalog is on at Dresden’s Gemäldegalerie through September 24, 2023.
Women Reframe American Landscape: Susie Barstow & Her Circle / Contemporary Practices, Edited by Amanda Malmstrom, Kate Menconeri, Nancy Siegel. Publisher: Thomas Cole National Historic Site with Hirmer Verlag, 2023. Distributed in North America by the University of Chicago Press.
Illuminating the artistic contributions and perspectives of women, this book reinserts the important 19th-century American artist Susie Barstow into the history of the Hudson River School. The book also highlights contemporary artists who expand how we think about “land” and “landscape” today. Engaging multigenerational perspectives, it launches an expanded narrative that recenters women in the canon of American landscape art. Other historic artists covered are Julie Hart Beers, Fidelia Bridges, Charlotte Buell Coman, Eliza Greatorex, Mary Josephine Walters, and Laura Woodward. Featured contemporary artists include Teresita Fernández, Marie Lorenz, Jean Shin, Tanya Marcuse, Mary Mattingly, Ebony G. Patterson, Anna Plesset, Wendy Red Star, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, the Guerilla Girls, Cecilia Vicuña, Kay WalkingStick, and Saya Woolfalk.
The exhibition of which the book is the catalog is on at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site through October 29, 2023. The show then runs at the New Britain Museum of American Art from November 16, 2023 to March 31, 2024. And just announced: the exhibition will be on view at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum from May 4 to August 25, 2024.
Julia Margaret Cameron: Arresting Beauty, by Lisa Springer and Marta Weiss. Publisher: Thames & Hudson, 2023.
Julia Margaret Cameron (1815–1879) was one of the most innovative and influential photographers in the history of the medium. This book presents an engaging introduction to Cameron’s life and work through more than 100 of her most important photographs. Three sections explore Cameron’s unique artistry and range: from her early experiments in the art of photography, to her pioneering portraits of public figures such as Charles Darwin and Sir John Herschel, to her allegorical compositions and the artistic tableaus she created to illustrate Alfred Tennyson’s Idylls of the King. Arresting Beauty tells the story of her pioneering career and lasting legacy in one accessible and beautiful volume.
The exhibition of which the book is the catalog is on at the Museum of Photographic Arts San Diego (MOPA) through September 3, 2023.
A Dark, A Light, A Bright: The Designs of Dorothy Liebes, Edited by Susan Brown and Alexa Griffith Winton, with contributions by John Stuart Gordon, Emily M Orr, Monica Penick, Erica Warren and Leigh Wishner. Publisher: Yale University Press, 2023.
As a weaver, Dorothy Liebes (1897–1972) developed a distinctive combination of unusual materials, lavish textures, and brilliant colors that came to be known as the “Liebes Look.” Yet despite her prolific career and recognition during her lifetime, Liebes is today considerably less well known than the men with whom she often collaborated. This important publication examines Liebes’ widespread impact on twentieth-century design. Ultimately, this book reinstates Liebes at the pinnacle of modern textile design alongside such recognized figures as Anni Albers and Florence Knoll. The real cloth cover with silkscreened typography and inset photograph opens to reveal an exposed spine and colored threads that tie together the page signatures and echo Liebes’s own craft.
The exhibition of which the book is the catalog is on at the Cooper Hewitt through February 4, 2024.
Alice Neel: Hot Off the Griddle, Edited by Eleanor Nairne. Publisher: Prestel, 2023.
“One of the reasons I painted was to catch life as it goes by,” Alice Neel explained, “right hot off the griddle.” This beautifully designed volume takes a unique approach to the exhibition catalog, highlighting Neel’s understanding of the fundamentally political nature of how we look at others, and what it means to feel seen. Long a favorite of portrait lovers, Neel has recently gained an even wider 21st-century audience appreciative of the searing candor with which she viewed the world, the depth of her humanity, and her championing of the underdog. Dynamic and forward thinking, this unconventional retrospective monograph takes its cues from Alice Neel’s life and work—at once intimate, powerful, and bursting with color.
Betye Saar: Heart of a Wanderer, Edited by Diana Seave Greenwald, with contributions by Make Best and Stephanie Sparling Williams. Publisher: Princeton University Press, 2023.
Betye Saar: Heart of a Wanderer sheds new light on Saar’s unique creative process, her trips around the world, and the diverse ways in which her artworks engage with global histories of travel and forced migration. It presents how the artist’s work conjures the transporting experience of a voyage to a faraway place. Beautifully illustrated, the book draws on original, in-depth interviews with Saar and the companions who accompanied the artist in her travels across four continents over several decades. Essays by leading scholars contextualize Saar’s journeys within her broader life and career, as well as how her practice fits into broader traditions—such as scrapbooking—in African American visual culture.
Abstract Expressionists: The Women, by Ellen G. Landau and Joan M. Marter. Publisher: Merrell Publishers, 2023.
This magnificent publication presents the works of the Levett Collection, an unparalleled private collection of art by women Abstract Expressionists. Richly illustrated essays by Ellen G. Landau and Joan M. Marter consider, respectively, the vital role of women—among them Claire Falkenstein, Perle Fine, Grace Hartigan, Lee Krasner and Joan Mitchell—in the development of Abstract Expressionism and the work of women sculptors of the movement. Full of exuberant, explosive colour and densely layered expression, the main section of the book is devoted to more than 50 paintings, collages and sculptures, all accompanied by pertinent quotes from the women about their artistic practice and concerns. An illustrated timeline and 35 artist biographies provide further insight, making this volume an essential addition to the study of Abstract Expressionist women, innovators whose time in the spotlight has finally come.
Cecily Brown: Death and the Maid, by Ian Alteveer with a contribution by Adam Eaker. Publisher: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2023.
Cecily Brown (b. 1969) transfixes viewers with sumptuous color, bravura brushwork, and complex narratives that relate to some of European painting’s grandest and most time-honored themes, including still life motifs and meditations on mortality through vanitas. This intimate survey of the acclaimed British painter reexamines the work of an artist whose influential output references both modern heavyweights, such as Willem de Kooning, Philip Guston, and Joan Mitchell, and Old Masters like Goya, Hogarth, Manet, and Rubens. The book features 21 paintings and 26 works on paper—drawings, watercolors, sketchbooks, and monotypes—that span the three decades of Brown’s career to date, including recently completed and never-before-published works. A conversation with the artist provides insight into her process and sources, while an insightful essay situates Brown in the lineage of the great artists of the last five hundred years.
What Is It That Will Last? Land and Tidal Art of Julie Brook, by Julie Brook, Simon Groom, Alexandra Harris, Raku Jikinyū and Robert Macfarlane. Publisher: Lund Humphries, 2023.
Situating Julie Brook’s practice in the context of critical reflections by Robert Macfarlane, Alexandra Harris and Raku Jikinyū, the publication presents a striking visual narrative of Brook’s landscape and tidal sculptural work, and a sense of its timeless yet contemporary resonance. Documenting in depth a number of recent works made in the Hebrides, Japan and Namibia, their shared attention to the elements and their key pre-occupations of the fleeting, mobile forces of light, time, and gravity demonstrate Brook’s coherent vision within vastly contrasting environments. Throughout her oeuvre, the balance between what Brook makes in relation to the environment and materials themselves is paramount.
The exhibition of which the book is the catalog is on at the Abbot Hall through December 30, 2023.
Ursula – That’s Me. So What?, Edited by Stephan Diederich, with text by Patricia Allmer, Stephan Diederich, Yilmaz Dziewior, Helena Kuhlmann, Chus Martinez, and Elizabeth A. Povinell. Publisher: Walther Koenig, 2023.
Ursula’s life and work offer an unconventional narrative of artistic independence. Her art exemplifies the idea that Surrealism is not a style, but an attitude. Ursula shared this utopian imagination with artists such as Leonora Carrington, Leonor Fini, Dorothea Tanning, and Unica Zürn. Presenting Ursula’s captivating and self-assured work to a new generation of art lovers, this catalogue reveals that it is the individuality of Ursula’s work that allows it to touch on so many fundamental and topical issues, including female self-determination and the challenging of established gender identities, with a worldview in which everything is interconnected and mutually dependent. The text is in English and German.
Painting Women Writers: Susanne du Toit, with text by Jeanette Winterson, Susanne du Toit, and Sacha Llewellyn. Publisher: Eiderdown Books, 2023.
Inspired by her encounter with novelist Jeanette Winterson, Susanne du Toit recently undertook a new body of work creating a series of portraits: Painting Women Writers. This new title includes:
- All nineteen new portraits by Susanne du Toit of women writers
- A new text on portraiture by Jeanette Winterson
- Preliminary sketches and notes from the artist on her process
- Contributions on the experience of becoming a sitter from the writers
- An introductory essay on du Toit’s practice from art historian Sacha Llewellyn
Just 800 copies of this title are available, with a limited number of handsigned and numbered copies and new etching edition from the artist, based on her sketches of Jeanette Winterson, exclusively available.
Similar Art Herstory posts:
Ten Intriguing Books About Remarkable Women Artists, a guest post by Carol M. Cram