The Story of Art Without Men

Tantor Audio. May 2023. 10:45 hrs. ISBN 9798350815825. $24.99. FINE ARTS
What would it be like to tell over 500 years of art history through the exclusive lens of women artists? Expanding on the thesis of her popular podcast The Great Women Artists, art historian and curator Hessel draws attention to the scores of women whose incredible talents and varied, sometimes subversive contributions to the visual arts have been forgotten, ignored, or intentionally diminished by the men-centric canon of Western art. From early feminist baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi to contemporary fiber artist Sheila Hicks, Hessel presents a varied and thoughtful survey of women artists between 1500 and the present. Chapters are organized into five thematic and chronological parts: “Paving the Way,” “What Made Art Modern,” “Postwar Women,” “Taking Ownership,” and “Still Writing.” Audiobook listeners will find much to like in Hessel’s crisp and intelligent narration, which demonstrates her passion for her subject. Listeners don’t get to see the photos and illustrations in the book, but Hessel makes up for this with lively, engaging descriptions.
VERDICT An excellent, provocatively titled work that shows what it means to celebrate the history, importance, and ongoing influence of women artists, past and present. Recommended for anyone interested in expanded views of art history.
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