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 fourth quarter of 2022. 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).
Hilma af Klint: A Biography, by Julia Voss. Publisher: University of Chicago Press, 2022.
The Swedish painter Hilma af Klint (1862–1944) was forty-four years old when she broke with the academic tradition in which she had been trained to produce a body of radical, abstract works the likes of which had never been seen before. Today, it is widely accepted that af Klint was one of the earliest abstract academic painters in Europe; and she was an avowed clairvoyant and mystic. Inspired by her first encounter with the artist’s work in 2008, Julia Voss set out to learn Swedish and research af Klint’s life—not only who the artist was but what drove and inspired her. The result is a fascinating biography of an artist who is as great as she is enigmatic.
Hilma af Klint: Landscapes, Portraits and Miscellaneous Works 1877–1941, Edited by Kurt Almqvist and Daniel Birnbaum. Publisher: Bokförlaget Stolpe, 2022.
Hilma af Klint was classically trained, with a degree from the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm. Although landscapes and portraits are not her most famous pieces, they remain important to her collection of works. This volume shows yet another side of Hilma af Klint s multifaceted artistry and presents her as painter of landscapes, portraits, and botanical specimens. The total number of works by the artist is still not determined since many of these works were sold to private buyers, where they remain.
With the publication of this book, the 7-volume Hilma af Klint Catalogue Raisonné is now complete. The full set is available for purchase in a slipcase.
Helen Saunders: Modernist Rebel, Edited by Rachel Sloan. Publisher: Paul Holberton, 2022.
One of the first British artists to pursue abstraction, Saunders was one of only two women to join the Vorticists, the radical but short-lived art movement that emerged in London on the eve of the First World War. Due in part to the loss of a significant portion of her oeuvre, including all of her Vorticist oil paintings, this remarkable artist fell into obscurity. Only in recent years has her work begun to be rediscovered and celebrated as an important piece of the story of British modernism. This book sheds light on an artist who steadily pursued her own path and whose contribution to the story of modern art is being newly appreciated.
Elaine Mayes: The Haight-Ashbury Portraits 1967–1968, Edited with text by Kevin Moore. Publisher: Damiani, 2022.
Elaine Mayes was a young photographer living in San Francisco’s lively Haight-Ashbury District during the 1960s. As the hippie movement turned from euphoria to harder drugs, Mayes shifted from her photojournalistic approach to making formal portraits of people she met on the street. Mayes’ familiarity with her subjects helped her to evade mediatized stereotypes of hippies as radically utopian and casually tragic. Instead, she portrayed an understated and unsentimental group portrait of the individual inventors of a fleeting cultural moment. Presenting more than forty images from Mayes’ extensive series, Haight-Ashbury Portraits 1967–1968 is the first monograph on one of the decade’s most important bodies of work.
Maria Lassnig: The Biography, by Natalie Lettner, translated by Jeff Crowder. Publisher: Simon and Schuster, 2022.
Maria Lassnig’s biography documents her boundary-breaking journey as an artist, from her humble beginnings in Austria to her exposure to international art in the 1940s, and on to New York, where, together with Louise Bourgeois, she plunged into the exploding women’s movement there. Later in life she returned to Austria, she became the first woman professor of painting in the German-speaking countries Lassnig caused a sensation with numerous solo exhibitions, from the Venice Biennale to the Documenta to the MoMA in NY.
Wildflowers of North America: Botanical Illustrations by Mary Vaux Walcott, by Pamela Henson. Publisher: Prestel, 2022.
This classic collection of artworks by “the Audubon of botany” features Mary Vaux Walcott’s celebrated watercolors of wildflower life in the US and Canada. Originally published in 1925 to enormous acclaim in five, oversized volumes, Walcott’s sketches introduced the diversity and beauty of North American plants to the general public. The book makes more than 250 of some of the most stunning illustrations are available in a single volume, in all their beauty and realism. As inspirational and informative as they are a pleasure for the eyes, this bouquet of nature’s fleeting gifts is a lasting treasure of botanic and scientific artistry.
“Without Hands”: The Art of Sarah Biffin, Edited by Emma Rutherford and Ellie Smith, with Contributions by Essaka Joshua, Alison Lapper, and Elle Shushan. Publisher: Paul Holberton, 2002 (available from the University of Chicago Press, 2023).
Sarah Biffin (1784–1850) came from humble origins yet rose to fame in the nineteenth century as an exceptionally talented miniaturist. As a working-class, disabled female artist, her artworks—many proudly signed “without hands” —are a testament to her talent and life-long determination. Despite her prolific artistic output, Biffin’s life and work has been largely overlooked by art historians—until now. Accompanying a 2022 exhibition at Philip Mould & Company, Without Hands: The Art of Sarah Biffin presents the work of the remarkable nineteenth-century disabled artist. This book celebrates her art, life and legacy.
Mary Ann Unger: To Shape a Moon from Bone, Edited with text by Horace D. Ballard. Foreword by Pamela Franks, Allison Kaufman. Text by Eve Biddle, Zoe Dobuler, Sarah Montross, and Roberta Smith. Publisher: Williams College Museum of Art, 2022; distributed by Artbook.
Rising to prominence in the downtown New York art scene of the 1980s and 1990s, Mary Ann Unger (1945–98) was skilled in graphic composition, watercolor, large-scale conceptual sculpture and environmentally responsive, site-specific interventions. Unger was a member of the Guerrilla Girls and is acknowledged as a feminist pioneer of neo-expressionist sculptural form.
This monograph brings together 50 images of the artist’s work, often monumental sculpture formed into organic shapes. Taking the reprinting of Roberta Smith’s 1999 obituary for Unger as a starting point, the book’s essays provide the first full consideration of Unger, tracing her life, her studies and her network of artists and mentors. This catalog also includes an interview with Unger’s daughter, the artist Eve Biddle.
Great Women Painters, by Phaidon editors, with an introduction by Alison M. Gingeras. Publisher: Phaidon, 2022.
Great Women Painters is a sumptuous survey of over 300 women painters and their work spanning almost five centuries. The volume includes both well-known women painters from history and today’s most exciting rising stars. Covering nearly 500 years of skill and innovation, this survey continues Phaidon’s The Art Book series and reveals and champions a more diverse history of art, showcasing recently discovered and newly appreciated work and artists.
Women Artists in Expressionism: From Empire to Emancipation, by Shulamith Behr. Publisher: Princeton University Press, 2022.
Richly illustrated, Women Artists in Expressionism examines the women artists whose inspired search for artistic integrity and equality influenced Expressionist avant-garde culture. The author explores how women negotiated the competitive world of modern art during the late Wilhelmine and early Weimar periods in Germany. Artists covered include Paula Modersohn-Becker, Käthe Kollwitz, Marianne Werefki, Gabriele Münter, Nell Walden, Jacoba van Heemskerck, Rosa Schapire, and Johanna Ey. This volume is a women-centered history that reveals the importance of emancipative ideals to the shaping of modernity and the avant-garde.
Bridget Riley Drawings: From the Artist’s Studio, with text by Jay A. Clarke, Thomas Crow, Rachel Federman, Cynthia Burlingham. Publisher: Modern Art Press, 2022.
Devoted exclusively to the artist’s works on paper, Bridget Riley Drawings: From the Artist’s Studio explores the importance of these works not only as a means of visual experimentation but as works of art in their own right. Throughout her working life, Riley has preserved works of particular significance, creating an archive that records her constant artistic inquiry and development. The studies presented in the book are drawn entirely from this personal collection, with Riley’s own input. They demonstrate the artist’s progression from early figurative works, through the monochrome geometry of the 1960s, to the examination of color that has characterized the second half of her long career. The choice of work explores the themes that have absorbed Riley in different periods and highlights key influences: the importance of life drawing to her and the significance of artists such as Seurat and Mondrian.
Women Street Artists: 24 Contemporary Graffiti and Mural Artists from Around the World, by Alessandra Mattanza. Publisher: Prestel, 2022.
This exciting book is an important first step in shedding light on the substantial number of women who are gaining fame in the street art world. It brings together the work of 24 artists, through dazzling photographs of their work and intimate portraits of their lives based on interviews collected by award-winning journalist Alessandra Mattanza. On walls, sidewalks, prison cells, grain silos and other nontraditional canvases, these artists tackle ideas around empowerment, feminism, the pink revolution, body shaming and body imagery, racism, and the climate crisis.
HON: Artistiaid Benywaidd yng Nghymru / Women Artists in Wales 2022, Edited by Christine Kinsey, with an introduction by Menna Elfyn and Ali Anwar. Publisher: The H’mm Foundation, 2022.
Women Artists in Wales 2022 is a fully bilingual book produced by The H’mm Foundation that showcases the work and words of ten women artists from across Wales who work in a range of mediums, from painting and textiles to sculpture and video.
Women and Contemporary Art in the Gulf: Identity, Institutions and Representation, by Sabrina deTurk. Publisher: Routledge, 2022.
Women and Contemporary Art in the Gulf offers a unique focus on the roles of women in contemporary art, cultural production and arts institutions in the Gulf. Drawing on in-person experiences of the art and sites discussed, as well as research on regional artists and arts institutions, DeTurk argues that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been largely excluded from the critical discourse about, and display of, contemporary Middle Eastern art. The book addresses this oversight by providing an examination of the work of several contemporary women artists from the Gulf region. DeTurk also discusses the role of women in museums and cultural institutions in the region, as well as the education systems available to emerging women artists.
Wangechi Mutu, by Wangechi Mutu with Nora Lawrence, Aisha Tandiwe Bell; foreword by John P. Stern. Publisher: X Artists’ Books with Storm King Art Center, 2022.
Wangechi Mutu is a catalogue accompanying a 2022 exhibition comprised of large-scale bronzes, earthworks, and films by the artist. The publication includes a foreword by John P. Stern, President of Storm King Art Center, an essay situating Mutu’s sculptures within an art historical context by Storm King’s Artistic Director and Chief Curator, Nora Lawrence, an artist’s statement by Mutu, as well as an essay by contributing author Aisha Tandiwe Bell. Installation photography of Mutu’s works sited in Storm King’s expansive landscape, and inside the Art Center’s Museum Building, illustrate the publication.
Available in a new edition
Phoebe Anna Traquair, by Elizabeth Cummings. Publisher: ACC Art Books, 2022.
A fully updated and expanded edition of the definitive study of Phoebe Anna Traquair, this book is a compelling account of the artist’s life and career in Britain’s Arts and Crafts movement. The artist was worked in a range of media including embroidery, enamels, illuminated manuscripts and murals. The new edition features new research about Traquair’s artistic practice, materials and technique. It also explores her intellectual life, including her correspondence with John Ruskin. The book’s 120 illustrations include new discoveries, as well as some of her most famous and best-loved works.
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