Hungry for Light: The Journal of Ethel Schwabacher

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"Schwabacher is a lyrical and literate writer... 'Hungry for Light is much more than an outsider’s challenge to canonical thinking about twentieth-century painters. It provides a fascinating look at how a woman of intelligence, sensitivity and talent who was all but ignored managed to create meaning in her life despite its pains and contradictions."
—Women’s Review of Books

"The journal is a poignant, lyrical, and meditative record of the feelings and experiences of a woman artist."—Women Artists
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Overview

"Schwabacher is a lyrical and literate writer... 'Hungry for Light is much more than an outsider’s challenge to canonical thinking about twentieth-century painters. It provides a fascinating look at how a woman of intelligence, sensitivity and talent who was all but ignored managed to create meaning in her life despite its pains and contradictions."
—Women’s Review of Books

"The journal is a poignant, lyrical, and meditative record of the feelings and experiences of a woman artist."—Women Artists
News

"Ethel Schwabacher was fierce, uncompromising, tough-minded, and passionately devoted to her painting.... 'Complex' and 'fascinating' are adjectives that barely do her justice. She is also a wonderful writer who unflinchingly confronts her own work and probes for its sources." —Carolyn Kizer

"The ‘hunger for light’ in this journal is vivid, vital, compelling, and compulsive. Ethel Schwabacher’s confessions should be required reading for anyone interested not only in the psychology of the
'woman' artist but, more generally, in the dynamics of creativity."—Sandra
Gilbert

"... the journals reveal an admirable and fascinating personality, at once intensely passionate and deeply thoughtful." —Naomi
Bliven

"... lyrically precise... These fragmentary jottings mingle joyous visions, ruminations on Michelangelo, Cézanne and Chinese art, an analysis of
Schwabacher’s own creative process and meditations on old age.... Schwabacher battled suicidal impulses to produce luminous paintings, reproduced here in 33 color and black-and-white plates.... skillfully edited... " —Publishers Weekly

This journal, kept from 1967 to 1980, takes the reader into the artist’s mind when she was at the height of her powers. An Abstract Expressionist who exhibited at the Betty Parsons Gallery, Schwabacher meditates in these pages on the sources of her own creativity, and she observes the process of her own aging and approaching death. Her record will become a valuable resource for research into the creative process as well as the art history and theory of our time.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
American painter Ethel Schwabacher (1903-1984) rebelled against her fellow Abstract Expressionists Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, deeming their work anti-human and hostile to women. In her later mythological paintings, made during the period covered by this lyrically precise journal (1967-1980), she used figures such as Eurydice and Prometheus to recast her own life on an epic scale. These fragmentary jottings mingle joyous visions, ruminations on Michelangelo, Cezanne and Chinese art, an analysis of Schwabacher's own creative process and meditations on old age. Her self-analysis yields memories of her father's infidelities, of her yearnings for primal union with her mother and of a sexually charged relationship with her brother. Schwabacher battled suicidal impulses to produce luminous paintings, reproduced here in 33 color and black-and-white plates. Webster, the artist's daughter, and Johnson, an English and women's studies professor at the State University of New York, have skillfully edited this journal. Photos. (May)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

BRENDA S. WEBSTER, Ethel Schwabacher’s daughter, is an independent scholar,
fiction writer, and translator. She is the author of Yeats: A Psychoanalytic Study and Blake’s
Prophetic Psychology. JUDITH EMLYN JOHNSON, Professor of English and Women’s Studies at
SUNY/Albany, is editor of Thirteenth Moon. She is a winner of the Yale Series Younger Poets Prize and the Poetry Society of America Di Castagnola Prize.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

One The Creation of
Orpheus and Other Mythologies

Two Visionary Interlude: The Paradise of the
Real

Three Under the Sign of the Storm: Painting the Death of
Socrates

Four The Tortoise and the Angel: Visions of Art and
Life

Five Ego Clashes

Six Recovering the Past: Return to the
Cave of My Childhood

Seven Second Visionary Interlude: The Time for
Clarification

Eight The Angel of
Death

Coda

Appendix: Public Collections Containing Ethel
Schwabacher’s Work

Index

Indiana University Press

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