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 first 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).
Susie M. Barstow: Redefining the Hudson River School, by Nancy Siegel. Publisher: Lund Humphries, 2023.
A prolific artist, Susie M. Barstow (1836–1923) was committed to expressing the majesty she found in the national landscape. She captured on canvas and paper the larger American landscape experience as it evolved across the nineteenth century. Nancy Siegel here explores the career of this fascinating artist, utilizing vast, and previously unknown, archival materials, including letters, diaries, photographs, and sketchbooks. Susie M. Barstow: Redefining the Hudson River School positions Susie “as a prominent landscape artist, whose paintings won her wide renown.” This timely study explores the manner in which Barstow struggled, flourished, and ultimately earned her living in the arts.
Fidelia Bridges: Nature into Art, by Katherine Manthorne. Publisher: Lund Humphries, 2023.
Raised in Salem and long residing in Connecticut, Fidelia Bridges (1834–1923) maintained a studio in New York City. She exhibited her art for over forty years at the National Academy, American Watercolor Society and other prestigious venues. Fidelia Bridges combines a recovery of the artist’s biography with close readings of her artworks. Katherine Manthorne assembles a cross-section of Bridges’ oil paintings, watercolors, and chromolithographs, analyzing them against letters, diaries and periodical reviews. Living an outwardly conventional life, Bridges embraced the bicycle and later the automobile as vehicles of female liberation. She cultivated her garden with the skill of a horticulturalist. And she left a lasting pictorial legacy to be found in public museums and private collections across the US.
Marisa Mori and the Futurists: A Woman Artist in an Age of Fascism, by Jennifer S. Griffiths. Publisher: Bloomsbury, 2023.
This book introduces a compelling new personality to the modernist canon, Marisa Mori (1900–1985), who became the only female contributor to The Futurist Cookbook (1932) with her recipe for “Italian Breasts in the Sun.” Providing something more complex than a traditional biographical account, Griffiths presents a feminist critique of Mori’s art, converging on issues of gender, culture, and history to offer new critical perspectives on Italian modernism. Jennifer Griffiths situates Mori’s most significant artworks in the critical context of interwar Fascism, and highlights her artistic contributions before, during, and after her Futurist decade.
Tirzah Garwood, by Lotte Crawford. Publisher: Eiderdown Books, 2023.
Tirzah Garwood (1908–51) excelled in marbling, wood-engraving, collage and a style of painting which fused English romanticism with her domestic life. Marriage and motherhood curtailed her artistic ambitions but not her imagination: she found creative expression and commercial success with intricately patterned papers created on the kitchen table and in the bathtub. In Garwood’s early wood-engraving and later paintings dolls houses, train journeys and shop fronts are infused with her acerbic wit. Though she has long been overshadowed by the success of her artist husband (Eric Ravilious), this book celebrates Tirzah Garwood as an artist in her own right.
Ann Hamilton: Sense, artwork and text by Ann Hamilton. Publisher: Radius Books, 2023.
Ann Hamilton believes that projects can be considered not as artifacts or something to be documented, but as their own material object—in this case, a book. While Sense contains images that Hamilton has accumulated over many years, of people and of objects that conflate touch, light, and surface, the book also becomes an object in hand, a thing felt, an artwork in itself. Whether comprised of a building four stories high or confined to the surface of a thimble—or the pages of this book turning on one’s hands—the qualities of these spaces, objects and their atmospheres evoke an awareness of the site and the scale of the body to ask how in a technologically extended world the literacies of the hand and embodied knowledge matter.
Annette Werndl: Color is my Music, edited by Jürgen B. Tesch. Publisher: Hirmer, 2023.
Annette Werndl was encouraged from an early age to pursue her talent as a painter and to work with oil paints on canvas. However, it was only after a number of years working as an interior designer that she decided to become an independent artist. She studied painting at various art academies and was a member of the master classes of Jerry Zeniuk and Hermann Nitsch. Through her extensive travels and sojourns in faraway places she has developed her own pictorial language. The monograph assembles her works from the past years which were inspired mainly by sojourns in the United States and especially New York, and by the development of the music of the time (jazz, blues and pop).
Wangechi Mutu, with text by Adrienne Edwards, Courtney J. Martin, Kellie Jones, and Chika Okeke-Agulu. Publisher: Phaidon, 2023.
Wangechi Mutu’s remarkable body of work touches on such issues as sexuality, ecology, politics, and the rhythms and chaos that govern the world. Her paintings, sculptures, and collages, often enriched with culturally-charged materials including tea, synthetic hair, Kenyan soil, feathers, and sand, interweave fact with fiction, generating a unique form of myth-making that sets her apart from classical history or popular culture. This is the first book to document the evolution and explore the impact of the celebrated and influential Kenyan-American artist.
Mary Mattingly: What Happens After, with contributions by N. Bell, S. Cox and J. Decker. Publisher: Anchorage Museum and Hirmer, 2023.
Life on Earth depends upon clean air and water, biodiversity, and a stable climate. These commons—the ecosystems and processes that regulate global stability—are the foundation of human life, economy and society. As a visual artist, Mary Mattingly is a messenger for ways how we can value these commons. This makes her work highly topical and important. The comprehensive publication features an extensive overview of her instalments and performances. The book includes the Swale, an edible landscape on a barge in New York City.
Radical Woman: Gwen John and Rodin, by Maggie Humm. Publisher: Edward Everett Root, 2023.
This work of historical romance literary fiction is told in the first-person present tense. It explores Gwen’s journey from a naïve young woman to a self-confident and celebrated artist. Both Rodin and Gwen John were radical artists who challenged the conventions of art and respectability in the early years of the twentieth century. Here Gwen steps out from the shadows cast first by her brother Augustus John the painter, and then by Rodin, to play her part in the furthering the cause of female artists to be treated as equals by their male counterparts. The novel is largely set in London and Paris between 1897 and 1917, and focuses on pivotal moments which transform the artist’s life.
Women Artists in the Reign of Catherine the Great, by Rosalind P. Blakesley. Publisher: Lund Humphries, 2023.
In this pioneering book, Rosalind Blakesley reveals the remarkable role women artists played in Catherine the Great’s pursuit of her cultural ambitions. The history paintings that she purchased from Angelica Kauffman brought the Swiss artist to the attention of keen new patrons, while Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun found in Russia safe refuge from the horrors of revolutionary France. The young sculptor Marie-Anne Collot made the arduous journey from Paris to St. Petersburg and enthralled Russian society with her portrait busts, while Grand Duchess Maria Fedorovna, wife of Catherine’s troubled son Paul, sculpted cameos which the empress sent to distinguished correspondents abroad. With stories of extraordinary artistic endeavour intertwined with the intrigue of Catherine’s personal life, this book uncovers the impact of these and other artists at one of Europe’s most elaborate courts.
The Other Side: A Journey into Women, Art and the Spirit World, by Jennifer Higgie. Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2023.
The Other Side explores the lives and work of a group of extraordinary women, from the twelfth-century mystic, composer and artist Hildegard of Bingen to the British surrealist and occultist Ithell Colquhoun. While the individual work of these artists is unique, the women loosely shared the same goal: to communicate with, and learn from, other dimensions. Weaving in and out of these myriad lives, sharing her own memories of otherworldly experiences, Jennifer Higgie discusses the solace of ritual, the gender exclusions of art history, the contemporary relevance of myth, the boom in alternative ways of understanding the world, and the impact of spiritualism on feminism and contemporary art.
Sculpting a Life: Chana Orloff between Paris and Tel Aviv, by Paula J. Birnbaum. Publisher: Brandeis University Press, 2023.
A major figure in the School of Paris, Chana Orloff (1888–1968) contributed to the canon of modern art alongside Picasso, Modigliani and Chagall. In Sculpting a Life, Paula Birnbaum presents the first book-length biography of the artist. This book brings new perspectives and understandings to Orloff’s multiple identities as a cosmopolitan émigré, woman, and Jew, and is a much-needed intervention into the narrative of modern art.
Women in Design, by Anne Massey. Publisher: Thames & Hudson, 2023.
Women in Design offers a comprehensive introduction to women’s legacies in the fields of architecture, craft, fashion, furniture, interior, product, textile and graphic design, and a vital corrective to male-centric histories of design. Leading design writer and historian Anne Massey considers the struggle for design education and employment, the early prevalence of women “behind the scenes,” the rise of women-led fields such as interior design and the design activism of the late twentieth century, drawing together the work of women designers from May Morris to Elsa Schiaparelli, Anni Albers to Zaha Hadid. With over 150 images, Women in Design is an important, accessible contribution to the history of design over the last century.
For young readers
No Horses in the House! The Audacious Life of Artist Rosa Bonheur, by Mireille Messier, illustrated by Anna Bron. Publisher: Orca Book Publishers, 2023.
Rosa Bonheur loved to draw animals. She was good at it too! Unfortunately, in nineteenth-century France, girls were not allowed to be artists. But Rosa didn’t let that stop her. In this fictionalized account of her early life in Paris, Rosa studies art at home, bringing a menagerie of animals into the apartment to study up close. When she is kicked out of the horse market for sneaking in wearing boys clothing, Rosa must think creatively to challenge the rules in pursuit of her dream of becoming a world-class realist painter and artist.
A Tulip in Winter: A Story About Folk Artist Maud Lewis, by Kathy Stinson, illustrated by Lauren Soloy. Publisher: Greystone Books Ltd., 2023.
Known for her vibrant and cheerful paintings of landscapes, plants, and animals, Maud Lewis’ iconic folk art is celebrated around the world. Despite her beautiful art, she spent much of her life living in poverty with rheumatoid arthritis. In this stunning picture book, author Kathy Stinson and illustrator Lauren Soloy bring Maud’s world to life: how she captured in her art what she loved most, while navigating the mobility issues caused by her condition. From bright paintings of the sea and countryside, to the flowers and birds she painted on the walls of the small house she shared with her husband, Maud’s work continues to delight and inspire viewers young and old. Uplifting and visually compelling, Maud’s story will inspire young readers to find and focus on the beauty in their worlds.
Adaline Kent: The Click of Authenticity, text by Apsara DiQuinzio and Jeff Gunderson and Alexander Nemerov and Elaine Y. Yau. Publisher: Rizzoli, 2023.
This volume celebrates the life and career of Adaline Kent (1900–1957), a member of one of the Bay Area’s most productive and innovative midcentury artistic groups. Kent is linked to modernist artists Ruth Asawa, Mark Rothko, Isamu Noguchi, and Clyfford Still. Texts by a diverse range of scholars cover such subjects as infinity and movement in Kent’s work; the influence of nature; and the diverse artistic milieu at the San Francisco Art Institute and beyond that surrounded Kent. With an extensive chronology and a wide selection of sculptures, photographs, and rarely seen works on paper and paintings on Hydrocal, the book substantiates Kent’s achievement as one of midcentury America’s most innovative sculptors, re-excavating her work for younger generations.
Making Modernism: Paula Modersohn-Becker, Käthe Kollwitz, Gabriele Münter, Marianne Werefkin, text by Dorothy Price, Chantal Joffe RA, Shulamith Behr, Sarah Lea and Rhiannon Hope. Publisher: Royal Academy of Arts, 2023.
Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945), Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876–1907), Gabriele Münter (1877–1962) and Marianne Werefkin (1860–1938) challenged prevailing ideals of feminine identity at a time of great societal change. As women, they were expected to marry and raise a family; some chose to, some did not. As ambitious artists, they wanted to work. Their portraits of children symbolise joy, hope and innocence but also melancholy, tension, curiosity, the passing of time and unfulfilled desire. Their radical depictions of the nude wrest the female body away from the male gaze towards a newfound role, expressive of powerful maternity and female subjectivity. Accompanying a major exhibition in London, this volume looks at the innovations and interconnections of these Expressionist pioneers.
Available as a new edition or new format
May Morris: Arts & Crafts Designer, with text by Anna Mason, Jan Marsh, Jenny Lister, Rowan Bain, and Hanne Faurby. Publisher: Thames & Hudson, 2017; paperback, 2023.
May Morris: Arts & Crafts Designer is the first publication to present the full range of May Morris’s work and reveals her exceptional skill and originality. It draws together her designs, exquisite embroideries, watercolours, costume and jewellery from museums around the world, and in particular the rich collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum and the William Morris Gallery, London. The book contains more than 180 items in colour and detailed information on their materials and provenance compiled by leading experts. There are also new insights into May’s personal life and relationships, her social activism and her support for other craftswomen.
Similar Art Herstory posts:
Ten Intriguing Books About Remarkable Women Artists, a guest post by Carol M. Cram