Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists

Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists

by Donna Seaman

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Overview

An award-winning writer rescues seven first-rate twentieth-century women artists from oblivion—their lives fascinating, their artwork a revelation.

Who hasn't wondered where-aside from Georgia O'Keeffe and Frida Kahlo-all the women artists are? In many art books, they've been marginalized with cold efficiency, summarily dismissed in the captions of group photographs with the phrase "identity unknown" while each male is named.

Donna Seaman brings to dazzling life seven of these forgotten artists, among the best of their day: Gertrude Abercrombie, with her dark, surreal paintings and friendships with Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Rollins; Bay Area self-portraitist Joan Brown; Ree Morton, with her witty, oddly beautiful constructions; Loïs Mailou Jones of the Harlem Renaissance; Lenore Tawney, who combined weaving and sculpture when art and craft were considered mutually exclusive; Christina Ramberg, whose unsettling works drew on pop culture and advertising; and Louise Nevelson, an art-world superstar in her heyday but omitted from recent surveys of her era.

These women fought to be treated the same as male artists, to be judged by their work, not their gender or appearance. In brilliant, compassionate prose, Seaman reveals what drove them, how they worked, and how they were perceived by others in a world where women were subjects-not makers-of art. Featuring stunning examples of the artists' work, Identity Unknown speaks to all women about their neglected place in history and the challenges they face to be taken as seriously as men no matter what their chosen field-and to all men interested in women's lives.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620407585
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 02/14/2017
Pages: 480
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

Donna Seaman is Editor, Adult Books, Booklist, a member of the advisory council for the American Writers Museum, and a recipient of the James Friend Memorial Award for Literary Criticism and the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award. She has reviewed for the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, among others. She has written biocritical essays for the Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature and American Writers. Her author interviews are collected in Writers on the Air: Conversations about Books. She lives in Chicago.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Telling the Stories of Seven Artists ix

The Empress of In-Between Louise Nevelson 1

Girl Searching Gertrude Abercrombie 27

Behind the Masks Loïs Mailou Jones 94

"The Rebellious Bravo" Ree Morton 154

Swimming in Light Joan Brown 182

Freeze and Melt Christina Ramberg 284

All of a Piece Lenorc Tawney 353

Coda: Perpetual Rediscovery 412

Acknowledgments 415

Notes 418

Selected Bibliography 436

List of Illustrations (By Artist) 438

Index 444

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