Women Artists in History: From Antiquity to the Present

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9780130273192: Women Artists in History: From Antiquity to the Present

This concisely written book introduces readers to the most recent contributions of women to the history of art from the ancient past to the year 2000. It also focuses on the roles of women as patrons and collectors—along with the ways in which women have been represented in imagery in different periods. Organized chronologically of western civilizations and the roles women have played in their visual cultures, it highlights contributions from the Middle Ages to the present. Coverage includes Europe from 1450-1800; 19th Century France, United States and Victorian England; the Post World War II Era; contemporary art; and a conclusion of global issues for women artists: past, present, and future. For artists, and art lovers looking to truly understand and appreciate the outstanding contributions of women to the field.

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From the Publisher:

This Third Edition of Women Artists in History: From Antiquity to the Present has been substantially revised to reflect the wealth of recent feminist research in the history of art. Slatkin's goal is to offer students a genuine insight into all phases of women's contributions to visual culture.

From the Inside Flap:

Preface

Women Artists in History is a textbook targeted at college students in introductory-level courses focused on women artists and the contributions of women to visual culture, women's studies courses, and surveys of western art history. It is written in a style that is crafted to communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively for this targeted audience. Most students will bring little or no preexisting intellectual framework for comprehending this material. Therefore, whenever possible, I do not discuss a work of art without providing an accompanying illustration. I try to write clearly and succinctly in a manner that is similar to the way I teach, based on more than 25 years of teaching experience in such introductory-level courses. The topics discussed in each chapter have been selected to provide a foundation for these student readers. I hope that instructors of these courses will appreciate the text as a strategy for engaging their students and encouraging them to explore the fully published field, which is so rich and varied in methodologies.

This fourth edition of Women Artists in History provides this author with a welcome opportunity to build on the structure of the third edition and to incorporate a selection of the valuable scholarship published in the years since the last edition was written. In the third edition, detailed analyses of individual works of art, which had been objects of scholarly attention, provided the core structure of the text. This edition retains such focused discussions but incorporates some of the most compelling newly published scholarship. In this edition, readers will find each creator represented by one single illustration. This seemed to me to be the most effective way to balance the existing scholarship addressed in the third edition with the more recently published material.

The topics addressed in each chapter reflect the course of the current state of published research for each historical epoch. The issues vary because the material evidence of different times and places is so diverse. Therefore "feminist interventions into the histories of art," Griselda Pollock's well-known term for this scholarly practice, leads to an exploration of different types of issues for the five millennia of artistic production spanned by the scope of the text.' Feminists have suffered from the tyranny of meta-theories. We should not then seek to impose new methodological priorities for texts, course syllabi, or the research interests of our colleagues. I argue here for a flexible approach to the field of visual culture and art history. In this book I have tried to make selections from the broadest range of the outstanding scholarship in the field, which necessarily reflects a variety of methodological approaches.

It is unarguable that the contributions of women to the visual cultures of their societies go far beyond the small handful of women who became "professional artists." Women have participated in the visual arts on many levels, including the activities of amateur creators and as patrons, critics, and viewers. Whenever possible, I have indicated the roles of such women, especially as patrons, in the appropriate chapters. Such discussions naturally parallel the available published scholarship.

Interpretations of representations of women are also an important area of investigation for scholars studying the construction of gender distinctions in specific historical epochs. Art historians must address issues of "imagery" in their areas of expertise to deconstruct the "natural" categories of "Man" and "Woman" and their implicit power hierarchies. Such intellectual efforts provide us with one of the only escape routes for future generations to reinvent new, more tolerant, and more flexible definitions of gender. This scholarship is extremely valuable and important work. In this text, discussions of the roles of images of women are included in nearly every chapter prior to the eighteenth century.

However, Women Artists in History, does prioritize the works of women creators. The concrete material existence of these works of art by women artists with names attached, whenever possible, is the most direct didactic method to ensure that the contributions of women to visual culture will not be marginalized, minimized, or summarily dismissed. It is unthinkable to permit the art made by women to retreat into the invisibility and anonymity that existed prior to the 1970s. Therefore I believe that there is a responsibility to educate each new generation of college students with the outstanding creations of women artists. Given the limited number of illustrations that can be included in this text, I have chosen to include as many works created by women as is possible and practical. To shift the focus of the text to discussion of images of women, or works of art commissioned by women patrons but created by male artists, would inevitably result in many fewer works by women creators appearing as illustrations in this book.

It is undeniable that the text has a Eurocentric emphasis. This resulted necessarily from two factors, the current state of the literature and the practical limitations of space. There is simply much more scholarship currently in print on the women artists of Europe and the United States than for the creators from other continents. Furthermore, there are the physical limitations on the length of this book. Adding brief and, necessarily cursory, chapters describing women artists from other continents would have forced me to substitute some of the text devoted to the much more detailed and theoretically complex material which I have included. In the conclusion, a summary of the state of research on issues for global women creators has been added. This does not reverse the balance, but it does begin to point students in the directions of scholarship available on women artists of Asia, Africa, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand. As an introduction to this material, an essential part of the text is the updated bibliographies for each chapter. An annotated bibliography of general reference sources is also included. Students should be directed to these additional research materials, in English, which are published as books or essays, in refereed or peer reviewed publications.

Women Artists in History is like a "freeway" or "turnpike" for feminist art historical discourse. Each chapter is a' major "exit" into much more detailed scholarly work. Each subheading within the chapters is a road leading to more specialized studies. It is my intent that students use this book as a beginning point, a road map, to help guide them through what has become a terrain of complex and extremely sophisticated intellectual inquiry. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

First, I acknowledge my debt to the sustained efforts of the scholars whose work is summarized in these pages. We are now benefiting from several generations of their expertise, that permits this text to become a very different book from the first edition, written in the early 1980s.

No textbook is created without a committed team. At Prentice-Hall I have been fortunate to work with a group of professionals without whose efforts this fourth edition could not have been produced. I would like to thank my revision editor Susan Alkana, whose support and insights moved this edition along at a crucial stage. I also wish to acknowledge Judy Winthrop's Herculean efforts to keep this project on track and on schedule and who knew when to say yes and no. As always, I am grateful to Bud Therien who has sustained this text through four successive revisions, and to the efforts of his assistant, Marion Gottlieb and Wendy Yurash, who were both patient and efficient.

I am most appreciative of the input from the readers who provided valuable suggestions in the earliest stages of this revision.

The students in my classes have constantly been an inspiration to me. Realizing that many were born after 1980 is a sobering lesson to all and reminds us of the need for "reiteration" and remembering that each individual class of students needs to be educated with a fresh perspective.

I gratefully acknowledge all those institutions, libraries, museums, and individuals who granted permission to reproduce the photos included in the text.

I wish to thank my family, Randy, Josh and Sara, who have lived with this revision with patience, tolerance, and good humor. Finally, I would like to recognize the support of my mother and especially, my father, who did not live to see this text printed.

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