Amazons in the Drawing Room: The Art of Romaine Brooks

Amazons in the Drawing Room: The Art of Romaine Brooks

by Whitney Chadwick, Ber, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Romaine Brooks
     
 

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Amazons in the Drawing Room: The Art of Romaine Brooks presents a comprehensive and definitive analysis of the art and life of Romaine Brooks (1874-1970), reproducing for the first time in color thirty-four of the forty nudes and portraits she painted as well as thirty seven autobiographical drawings. Brooks has been called the first female painter since the… See more details below

Overview

Amazons in the Drawing Room: The Art of Romaine Brooks presents a comprehensive and definitive analysis of the art and life of Romaine Brooks (1874-1970), reproducing for the first time in color thirty-four of the forty nudes and portraits she painted as well as thirty seven autobiographical drawings. Brooks has been called the first female painter since the seventeenth-century artist Artemisia Centileschi to portray an ideal of heroic femininity.

An American born in Rome, Brooks spent most of her life in Paris. She survived an unsettling childhood, which was fractured by her parents' divorce, and turned to art to express her emerging self. In her adult life, the milieu she chose was the privileged, often eccentric demimonde of artists, intellectuals, and aristocrats who gathered in Rome, London, Capri, Paris, and Florence. Empowered by wealth after her mother's death, Brooks took her place in the circle of sexually and financially independent expatriate women in Paris, presided over by Natalie Barney -- a wealthy novelist and poet who became her partner in 1915.

Brooks's art developed to reflect her own personal vision of womanhood. Both her paintings and drawings of eerily sensuous female nudes and her compelling portraits of elegant, strong featured women -- often wearing tuxedos or morning coats and top hats -- are as stylish, cold, and austere as they are titillating and erotically charged. Painted with a palette of black, gray, and white, Brooks's images, in the classical and Pre-Raphaelite tradition, resonate with psychological symbolism. Her art not only idealizes the androgynous body as the epitome of beauty but celebrates a heroic femininity in physical and psychological terms.

In 1966 Romaine Brooks gave twenty-three of her paintings and a large group of her drawings to the Smith-sonian American Art Museum. The gift most fully represents the achievement of this once acclaimed artist whose work was eclipsed by a radical change in international taste in the 1940s, when abstract expressionism became the dominant mode of representation.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780520225657
Publisher:
University of California Press
Publication date:
09/20/2000
Pages:
128
Product dimensions:
9.88(w) x 10.25(h) x 0.63(d)

Meet the Author

Whitney Chadwick is Professor of Art History at San Francisco State University and author of Women, Art, and Society (1990) as well as other books and articles on women in the arts and on surrealism. Joe Lucchesi is a visiting instructor of Art History at Carleton College, and curator of the exhibition of Brooks's art organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.

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