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 third 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).
This novel tells the powerful story of Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the most celebrated female painters in seventeenth-century Europe. It follows the events of a single year that culminate in the city’s most infamous trial, during which Artemisia was forced to defend her character under brutal, and public, testimony. The experience shaped her art; Artemisia went on to create fierce biblical paintings that recognizes and celebrates women’s strength and agency.
Liberated: The Radical Art and Life of Claude Cahun, by Kaz Rowe. Publisher: Getty Publications, 2023.
At the turn of the 20th century in Nantes, France, Lucy Schwob met Suzanne Malherbe, and lightning struck. The two became partners both artistically and romantically and transformed themselves into the creative personas Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore. Together, the couple embarked on a radical journey of Surrealist collaboration that would take them from conservative provincial France to the vibrancy of 1920s Paris to the oppression of Nazi-occupied Jersey during World War II, where they used art to undermine the Nazi regime. Featuring 10 photographs by Cahun and Moore, this graphic biography by cartoonist Kaz Rowe brings Cahun’s inspiring story to life.
Pieces of Freedom: The Emancipation Sculptures of Edmonia Lewis and Meta Warrick Fuller, by Lee Ann Timreck. Publisher: University Press of Mississippi, 2023.
Pieces of Freedom: The Emancipation Sculptures of Edmonia Lewis and Meta Warrick Fuller analyzes the first fifty years of Black freedom in the US through the emancipation sculptures of two nineteenth-century African American sculptors, Mary Edmonia Lewis (1844–1909) and Meta Warrick Fuller (1877–1968). In this book, Lee Ann Timreck integrates Lewis’s and Fuller’s visual narrative with oral narratives of the newly emancipated, all set within the historical context of Reconstruction, segregation, and Jim Crow. The sculptures also reflect the artists’ gendered perspective of emancipation, conveying a strong narrative on the contributions and sacrifices made by newly freed Black women.
Gwen John: Art and Life in London and Paris, by Alicia Foster. Publisher: Thames and Hudson, 2023.
Demolishing the myth of the recluse, this sustained critical biography of a much-loved artist locates Gwen John firmly in the art worlds of London and Paris, where she chose to live and work. Based on original research, Gwen John examines the artist’s importance in the context of twentieth-century art. It also explores John’s relationships both personal and artistic, including her friendship with Rainer Maria Rilke and her romance with sculptor Auguste Rodin. Both a study of an artist whose importance and recognition continues to grow, and of the artistic world of Europe in the early twentieth century, this book provides a compelling portrait for anyone interested in the life and work of a key figure in the history of art.
Frida Kahlo, by Teresa Grenzmann. Publisher: Hirmer Verlag, 2023.
Frida Kahlo has become an icon of art with her powerfully expressive work. Her pictures not only reflect a view of herself, her fears, the biography of her illness, her passions and her joie de vivre; they also take up subjects which were regarded by society as taboo. As a pioneer of the feminist movement, the Mexican artist serves women the world over as a figure of identification. This compact book includes many of Kahlo’s most important works in context, explaining the subjects, ideas, and history that have contributed to her widespread acclaim.
Surreal Spaces: The Life and Art of Leonora Carrington, by Joanna Moorhead. Publisher: Princeton University Press, 2023.
In this evocative illustrated biography, writer and journalist Joanna Moorhead traces the footsteps of her famous cousin Leonora Carrington, exploring the artist’s life, loves, friendships, and work. Leading readers on a personal journey across Britain, Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the United States, and Mexico, Surreal Spaces describes the places and experiences that would become etched in Carrington’s memory and be echoed in her art and writing. Featuring photographs, drawings, and paintings of the spaces that so richly influenced Carrington’s work, Surreal Spaces is an intimate and vivid portrait of a fascinating artist.
Carole Gibbons, Texts by Andrew Cranston and Lucy Stein. Publisher: Galerie 5b, 2023.
Carole Gibbons was born in 1935 in Glasgow, where she has lived and worked for most of her life. She was a student at Glasgow School of Art in the late 1950s and a member of The Young Glasgow Group. After her studies, Gibbons travelled to Europe, living and working in Spain for a period before returning to Glasgow in 1967. Gibbons’ paintings blur the line between abstraction and representation. She often creates large-scale works with densely painted surfaces and visible brushstrokes. This beautifully illustrated hardback monograph introduces Gibbons’ work and her influence on later generations of artists.
Cecilia Vicuña: Word Weapons, Edited by Jeanne Gerrity and Anthony Huberman. Publishers: Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts and RITE Editions, 2023.
This book brings together the Palabrarmas series by the artist, poet, and activist Cecilia Vicuña (b.1948, Santiago, Chile). A neologism that translates to “word weapons” or “word arms,”Palabrarmas imagine new ways of seeing language. By taking the form of collages,silkscreens, drawings, poems, fabric banners, cut-outs, mixed media installations, and street actions, Vicuña brings together many aspects of her practice in poetry, activism, and visual art, allowing new meanings to emerge. This book presents a range of palabrarmas, created over the past four decades, in color for the first time.
Milkyways, by Camille Henrot. Publisher: Hatje Cantz, 2023.
A collection of short essays by artist Camille Henrot (born 1978), Milkyways explores the ambivalence of motherhood and the process of creation in both art-making and life. Each chapter explores a cosmos of references in literature, comics, art history, psychoanalysis and more—from ancient maternity myths to modern maternity wards; from Marcel Proust to Maggie Nelson to Hélène Cixous. Accompanied by illustrations of the artist’s work in painting, drawing and sculpture, Henrot’s essays oscillate freely between the personal and the societal, the candid and the complex, the visceral and the mundane.
Making their Mark: Art by Women in the Shah Garg Collection, Edited with text and interview by Mark Godfrey, Katy Siegel. Publisher: Gregory R. Miller & Co., 2023.
The paintings, sculpture and mixed-media works featured are drawn from the Shah Garg Collection, which is dedicated to illuminating the critical role that women have played in shaping the development of abstraction and the narratives of art more broadly. Richly illustrated with works by 136 artists, this volume offers new insights that make it a resource for students of art and general readers alike. The artists include Emma Amos, Firelei Báez, Jennifer Bartlett, Barbara Chase-Riboud, Trude Guermonprez, Jacqueline Humphries, Suzanne Jackson, Maria Lassnig, Simone Leigh, Julie Mehretu, Joan Mitchell, Senga Nengudi, Toyin Ojih Odutula, Calida Rawles, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Pat Steir, Toshiko Takaezu, Charline von Heyl, Kay WalkingStick and Mary Weatherford.
Marina Abromović: A Visual Biography, by Marina Abromović with Katya Tylevich. Publisher: Laurence King Publishing, 2023.
Agreeing to answer any question that was posed, Abramovic embarked on 17 months of candid interviews conducted by her friend and confidante, Katya Tylevich. The result is a monolithic retrospective that takes us from the humble beginnings of a shy child sitting at the back of the class, to fearless pioneer, conquering and subverting the art world with boundary-pushing performances, and concluding with her most profound personal experience to date. Over 600 images from Abramovic’s personal archives set these captivating memories alight, creating a fascinating, visual landscape and demonstrating the inextricably intertwined nature of her life and work.
Women in Arts, Architecture and Literature: Heritage, Legacy and Digital Perspectives, Edited by Consuelo Lollobrigida and Adelina Modesti. Publisher: Brepols, 2023.
The Annual International Women in Arts Conference seeks to advance contemporary discussions on how female creativity has helped shape European culture in its heterogeneity since the Middle Ages. This volume collects the proceedings of the first conference organised in Rome, in October 2021. It focuses on the role of women in literature, art, and architecture. Throughout history, these domains were often seen as very masculine. Yet, there have been many women who have made their mark as writers, illuminators, artists and architects, or have played a decisive role as patrons and supporters in these arts. The aim of the essays is to bring these women to the fore and sheds a new light on the heritage and legacy of women in the creative arts and architecture from the Middle Ages until the twentieth century.
Lavinia Fontana: Trailblazer, Rule Breaker explores this female Renaissance artist’s fascinating biography and the cultural climate that enabled her to become the first woman artist in Western Europe to gain commercial success beyond the confines of a court or a convent. Focusing on the portraiture for which she was renowned, Lavinia Fontana tells stories that will be universally familiar—tales of family bonds, sibling rivalries, engagements, weddings, births, and deaths. Engagingly written, the book explores Fontana’s world and how she forged a successful career in the male-dominated world of Renaissance Italy.
Lucie Rie: The Adventure of Pottery, edited by Andrew Nairne and Eliza Spindle. Publisher: Kettle’s Yard, 2023.
Lucie Rie (1902–1995) is one of the finest modern potters of the twentieth century. Born and trained in Vienna, her successful early career came to a halt in 1938 when forced to leave Austria to escape the persecution of Jewish people. In exile in London, Rie established a new workshop and over five decades created highly individual bowls, vases and tableware which continue to amaze and inspire today. With over 150 photographs and five new essays, Lucie Rie: The Adventure of Pottery celebrates an exceptional life of creative invention and experiment.
Parallel Lives: Eight Women Artists, Edited by Gill Clarke and Steve Marshall. Publisher: Sansom & Co., 2023.
Parallel Lives looks at the careers and experiences of nine women artists, all born within 20 years of each other: Sybil Andrews, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Prunella Clough, Ithell Colquhoun, Evelyn Dunbar, Gertrude Hermes, Barbara Jones, Enid Marx and Monica Poole. Like the exhibition with which it was published to coincide, this book is a celebration of the lives and work of these contrasting and highly accomplished artists. Each was an original and innovative creative force whose work has an enduring appeal. The exhibition and book take each artist as an individual, following their triumphs and challenges, but also highlighting moments when their careers and experiences overlapped and corresponded.
Carrie Mae Weems: The Shape of Things, Foreword by Tom Eccles; text by Thomas Lax, Huey Copeland; interview by Hans Ulrich Obrist. Publisher: MW Editions, 2023.
In The Shape of Things, Carrie Mae Weems focuses her unflinching gaze at what she describes as the circus-like quality of contemporary American political life. For this new work, Weems created a seven-part film projected onto a Cyclorama—a panoramic-style cylindrical screen that dates to the 19th century—where she addresses the turmoil of current events in the United States and the “long march forward.” Drawing on news and TV footage from the civil rights era to today, elements of previous films such as The Madding Crowd (2017) and new film projects that bring us into our tumultuous present, the films in The Shape of Things combine documentary directness with poetic rhythm to create an enveloping experience.
Barbara Earl Thomas: The Illuminated Body, Edited by Carolyn Swan Needell. Publisher: University of Washington Press, 2023.
A talented visual storyteller, Barbara Earl Thomas has drawn from history, literature, folklore, mythology, and biblical stories over her forty-year career to reflect the social fabric of our times. Thomas’s figural and narrative imagery has a deeply philosophical and emotional force, and light and dark have been especially potent concepts in her work. This book of new works meditates on the visual experience of the body within a physical and metaphorical world of light and shadow. Based on real people, the portraits “elevate to the magnificent” her family, friends, and neighbors, as well as cultural icons of the African American literary landscape. Thomas’s illumination of the human figure through her light-filled artworks and portraiture encourages the viewer to reflect on how we communicate ourselves to the world and how we perceive those among us.
María Magdalena Campos-Pons: Behold, Edited by Carmen Hermo. Publisher: Brooklyn Museum with Getty Publications, 2023.
Vibrantly illustrated, this volume surveys the career of contemporary artist María Magdalena Campos-Pons. It delves into her diverse oeuvre of painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, film, and performance. The first critical look at the artist’s oeuvre in nearly two decades, the book assesses the concerns, materials, and places invoked throughout her forty-year career. Thoughtful essays explore Campos-Pons’ vibrant, arresting artwork, which confronts issues of agency and the construction of race and belonging and challenges us to reckon with these issues in our own lives.
Claudette Johnson: Presence, Edited by Dorothy Price and Barnaby Wright. Publisher: Paul Holberton Publishers, 2023.
A founding member of the Black British Art Movement, Claudette Johnson is one of the most significant figurative artists of her generation. For more than thirty years she has created large-scale drawings of Black women and men that are at once intimate yet powerful. Presenting a carefully selected group of major works from across Claudette Johnson’s career, from key early drawings of the 1980s, with which first established her name, to her remarkable new and recent works, this exhibition and publication offers a compelling overview of Johnson’s pioneering career and artistic development. It explores how Johnson has directed her approach to representing her subjects over three decades.
Rachel Harrison: Sitting in a Room, Texts by Negar Azimi, Anne Dressen, Lars Bang Larsen, and Solveig Øvstebø. Publisher: Gregory R. Miller & Co. with Astrup Fearnley Museum, 2023.
Sitting in a Room highlights the recent work of New York–based artist Rachel Harrison (b. 1966), who takes a porous, hybrid approach to objects both made and found. Published in conjunction with her exhibition at the Astrup Fearnley Museet, this volume―which takes its name from a seminal work of sound art by Alvin Lucier―documents the show’s distinctive format, with each gallery conceived as a specific room. From Sculpture Court to Town Square, Gym, Living Room and Cabinet, the exhibition places the viewer in contexts both intimate and public, and the original essays commissioned here expand and deepen those trajectories.
Sonya Clark: We Are Each Other, Edited by Elissa Auther, Laura Mott, and Monica Obniski. Publisher: Hirmer Verlag, 2023.
This is the first volume to document and contextualize Sonya Clark’s large-scale, community-centric and collaborative artworks. These projects demonstrate Clark’s career-long commitment to addressing the urgent issue of racial inequality in American society and her philosophy of creatively engaging the viewer in reflection on the nation’s history of slavery and our roles in dismantling systemic racism today. For marginalized people (African Americans and women, in particular) handwork has been essential to survival and consequently has functioned, and continues to function, as an important means of creating a group identity. Hence, for Clark, craft is essential to the question of equality.
Harmonia Rosales: Master Narrative, Edited by Patricia Lee Daigle and Rosamund Garrett. Publisher: Paul Holberton Publishers, 2023.
Los Angeles-based artist Harmonia Rosales is known for rewriting the master narrative of art history, from the perspective of an Afro-Cuban American woman in the twenty-first century. Through her visual storytelling, Rosales presents the notion of human and cultural survival on her own terms—one that highlights the beauty and strength of Black people, particularly women, while touching upon grand narratives of creation, tragedy, survival, and transcendence. This beautifully illustrated publication includes a catalog of works in the exhibition it accompanies; a biography of the artist; and new essays by noted scholars in their fields. These essays explore themes ranging from storytelling and narrative to gender and depiction of beauty to race and diaspora.
Anna Atkins’ Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Ferns, by Anna Atkins, with a new introduction by Emily Gills. Publisher: Art Meets Science, 2023.
A pioneer in her field, Anna Atkins (1799–1871), was the first to publish a book featuring photographs, a landmark feat in both scientific illustration and the world of publishing. In this new edition of Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Ferns, each image has been faithfully reproduced in a dazzling tribute to the intersection where art meets science.
The Art of Elizabeth Blackadder, by Duncan Macmillan. Publisher: Lund Humphries, 2023.
Exploring the development of Elizabeth Blackadder’s art in all its richness, this revised edition of Duncan Macmillan’s 1999 book expands the account of an important artist and her significant body of work.
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