Women in the Picture: What Culture Does with Female Bodies

Norton. Nov. 2021. 240p. ISBN 9780393542080. pap. $22.95. FINE ARTS
London-based art historian McCormack (The Art of Looking Up) pens a polemic that challenges the way women are seen through the lens of a white male–dominated Western art canon. After the author observes images of women in Renaissance paintings encountering misogyny, she calls out museums for casting no judgment. McCormack divides her monograph into four chapters, each representing one of the restrictive roles assigned to women in patriarchal art: Venus, Mothers, Maidens and Dead Damsels, and Monstrous Women. McCormack argues that these historic roles continue to be reflected in modern society via pop culture and advertising, ultimately affecting the way women view themselves. Her intended audience is a general rather than a scholarly readership, but obscure references, meandering text, and a British slant may pose a challenge for the American layperson—still, anyone going to an art museum after reading this volume will likely find much to discuss.
VERDICT A thought-provoking purchase for academic library art history and women’s studies collections.
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