Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (in That Order) (Gifts for Artists, Inspirational Books, Gifts for Creatives)

by Bridget Quinn

Hardcover, 2017

Status

Available

Publication

Chronicle Books (2017), Edition: Illustrated, 192 pages

Description

Art. Biography & Autobiography. History. Nonfiction. Historically, major women artists have been excluded from the mainstream art canon. Aligned with the resurgence of feminism in pop culture, Broad Strokes offers an entertaining corrective to that omission. Art historian Bridget Quinn delves into the lives and careers of 15 female artists from around the globe in text that's smart, feisty, educational, and an enjoyable read. Replete with beautiful reproductions of the artists' works and contemporary portraits of each artist by renowned illustrator Lisa Congdon, this is art history from the Renaissance to Abstract Expressionism for the modern art lover, reader, and feminist.

Rating

(19 ratings; 4)

User reviews

LibraryThing member book58lover
This book was a chameleon for me. Initially I was not impressed with the writing style and was puzzled by the choices of artists, although I must confess that I know very little about the art in the book. But as I continued to read I fell in to the writing and became impressed with the artists,
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both the back stories and the work. I am glad for the choices, exposing me to art styles of which I am not aware.
The book is as much about the author as about the artists and I learned a great deal about her wants and desires as I did the incredible women in the book. I am glad I read front to back instead of picking and choosing the women of which I wanted to learn because it gave me a breadth of information.
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LibraryThing member ValerieAndBooks
This was a very engrossing look at fifteen different women artists, presented in chronological order. Each artist has a chapter of her own.

The women artists discussed are:

Artemisia Gentileschi
Judith Leyster
Adelaide Labille-Guiard
Marie Denise Villers
Rosa Bonheur
Edmonia Lewis
Paula
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Modersohn-Becker
Vanessa Bell
Alice Neel
Lee Krasner
Louise Bourgeois
Ruth Asawa
Ana Mendieta
Kara Walker
Susan O'Malley

The women artists represented are a good mix of artistic periods, styles, mediums, and personal backgrounds.

Being a former student of art/art history, I still discovered new things to know about the women I was already familiar with (only four were completely new names to me).

All too often, women artists have been discounted in various ways. One good example is regarding Marie Denise Villers, who had a painting originally misattributed to Jacques Louis David, and once the error was discovered:

"Still, no one much celebrated having found a previously unknown painter who was equal to the great David. Though the public continued to love the painting -- they may not have known David from Delacroix, at any rate -- some academics had a change of heart about the painting itself (p. 55)".

Author Bridget Quinn inserts a narrative of her own life story and self-exploration here and there, which I felt added positively to this book.

Nicely illustrated with examples of each artist's own works. Additionally, each chapter is prefaced by a portrait done by the equally talented artist/illustrator Lisa Congdon.

I have already thought of at least three people to buy and give copies of this book as gifts.

Thanks to LibraryThing Early Reviewers and the publisher for sending me a copy to review.
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LibraryThing member abealy
In Broad Strokes, Bridget Quinn has gathered together a very personal pantheon to populate her biographical survey of women artists from the 17th century to last week – most of them under-appreciated in their lifetime.

I missed a few of my favorites (Carolee Schneemann and Alice Aycock come to
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mind) and there are a couple that I thought suffer from being included in such exalted company, but generally the profiles are sympathetic, the writing is engaging and there is just enough of the author’s own story to keep us involved.

The opening chapter profiles Artemisia Gentileschi, a near contemporary of Caravaggio. Quinn focuses on the rape of Gentileschi at the hands of an assistant to her father, also a painter. The suffering she had to endure in the subsequent trial made a stronger, more determined woman and probably contributed to the power and beauty of her masterpiece, Judith Severing the Head of Holofernes.

Many of these women worked within the shadow cast by a more prominent male artist. Marie Denise Villiers’ portrait of Charlotte du Val d’Ognes being misattributed to Jacques Louis David by the Metropolitan Museum is a good example. The profiles of Lee Krasner and Kara Walker are particularly good. I would have ended on someone other than Susan O’Malley. I also see no good reason to have an illustrated portrait of the artist at the beginning of each chapter – they are distracting and not particularly compelling. More examples of each artists work would have been nice.

Broad Strokes is a good place to start if you are at all interested in learning something more of the lives of a few of the most talented and under-recognized women artists of the last four hundred years. Google and Wikipedia can lead you to many more.
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LibraryThing member KatharineClifton
It's been many years since earning my B.A. in Art History, and it was fun to dive back into deeper looks into the lives of individual artists, especially female artists. I will admit that most of the names were unknown to me, which, honestly, made it even more fun. The author has a writing style
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that is going to bother some people, and others will adore. I happen to be in the latter category. Reading this book is more like having a conversation, it is chunked in a way that gives you juicy tidbits, rather than making you read through prolific prose to dig out the interesting parts. She shares background, the artists' and her own, she's irreverently funny and sarcastic, and includes analysis of both the artistic works and the social policies and pitfalls of the artists' time. I want to go wander around Manhattan, and especially the Met, with this author. This was a fun, entertaining, and educational read. I went at it chapter by chapter, instead of in one long sitting, enabling me to fall into the life of one artist, and then spend time digesting the images and new knowledge before moving on to the next, sometimes days later. I can think of several strong, passionate women in my life who will enjoy this book - some with artistic backgrounds, and some simply with backgrounds in badassery.
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LibraryThing member kbuchanan
I have to admit, I reveled in this book. Quinn writes unabashedly out of love for these women's work, and it is contagious. The style here is unapologetically informal, lacking in any sort of cool, academic reserve, but in a way that is inviting rather than off-putting. It's not as if Quinn does
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not have any expertise in her subject area: she is candid about her personal journey from art school to full-time writer. Her "readings" of the paintings and other works in this book are superb and illuminating. And, if nothing else, Quinn won my vote for championing Vanessa Bell, whose work is no less remarkable and revolutionary than that of her sister, Virginia Woolf's. Quinn presents us with a wide array of subjects, from the Renaissance up until the present century, not shying away from controversial figures or situations. Apart from the excellent content, this book is also just a beautiful object. I loved the matte finish of the pages and being able to delve into the prints of the paintings free from the glare of the glossy pages of so many gallery catalogues. The intricate textures of the works really come alive here. Lisa Congdon's graceful watercolors add to the book's unique feel. A lot of thought obviously went into the design of this book, and it was much appreciated by this reader!

Above all, this work is a celebration of female creativity and artistry and views its subjects through this lens. It begins with absence - absence of women from the approved "canon" of historical art, and then gloriously fills in what the canon has missed. This is far from a dusty textbook chronicling the accomplishments of the past. It waits in joyful anticipation for what is to come, for the next great work, for the next amateur inspiration, for the impetus of women to continue creating amazing art to be celebrated. I won't even be really objective here. Read it. And be inspired.
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LibraryThing member themagiciansgirl
What a pleasant surprise! I was initially put off by the stereotypical pinkish-red cover of Broad Strokes, but once I began reading the first story I was charmed.

With wit and lively writing, Bridget Quinn introduces us to the lives of fifteen little-known women artists who forged their own unique
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and passionate ways through the art world. Accompanied by Quinn’s personal anecdotes and bold analysis of the women’s work, the result is a joyful success.
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LibraryThing member Kellswitch
A look at female artists and their place in history.
The book states that it is a look into the lives and careers of 15 female artists and it did sort of do that but it was almost more about the authors discovery and experiences of these artists works than it was about the artists themselves. I
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didn’t mind this split as I (mostly) found the look into the authors relationship with art and the artist just as interesting as the biographies themselves, and you are given enough information on the artists to at least get a feel for them if not an in depth understanding of their work and lives.
I am more than a little mixed on this book. Overall I enjoyed it and learned more than a few things I did not previously know but I also found that the authors bias and predominant focus on modern art made this book harder for me to really feel connected to the art and artists as this is not an art style that particularly appeals to me and I found my interest drifting as the book moved on.
At first I was a little disappointed in how few color plates of artwork there were, but I have to say that as I realized the focus was more on the author than the artists and their work, that bothered me less and less. At least the pictures that were included were of the main pieces that the author focused on so I could at least see what she was talking about.
I am also mixed on the portraits of the artists that start their chapters. The work was appealing but, at least to me, did not capture any feel of the artist or their art style and they sort of blended together after a while.
Overall the book was interesting and I liked the author’s insight into how the art affected her, but the heavy focus on modern art was a bit off putting to me which is more a matter of personal taste really.
It was a good read but I don’t see myself revisiting this book any time in the future.
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LibraryThing member KatharineClifton
It's been many years since earning my B.A. in Art History, and it was fun to dive back into deeper looks into the lives of individual artists, especially female artists. I will admit that most of the names were unknown to me, which, honestly, made it even more fun. The author has a writing style
Show More
that is going to bother some people, and others will adore. I happen to be in the latter category. Reading this book is more like having a conversation, it is chunked in a way that gives you juicy tidbits, rather than making you read through prolific prose to dig out the interesting parts. She shares background, the artists' and her own, she's irreverently funny and sarcastic, and includes analysis of both the artistic works and the social policies and pitfalls of the artists' time. I want to go wander around Manhattan, and especially the Met, with this author. This was a fun, entertaining, and educational read. I went at it chapter by chapter, instead of in one long sitting, enabling me to fall into the life of one artist, and then spend time digesting the images and new knowledge before moving on to the next, sometimes days later. I can think of several strong, passionate women in my life who will enjoy this book - some with artistic backgrounds, and some simply with backgrounds in badassery.
Show Less
LibraryThing member over.the.edge
Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (In That Order)

by Bridget Quinn
2017
Chronicle Books
4.0 / 5.0

Many art books and overviews about Art or Art Movements and Styles, have marginalized, or not included, many of the major women artists. Many other women artists and their work were
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not considered serious, or important, pieces, simply because they were done by a female artist. Bridget Quinn, a long- time Art lover and an art history student, has found 15 women artists that have had amazing and incredible art work or works, that were popular, but little was said of the artist. Or the artists incredible lives.

For example, Quinn includes Rosa Bonheur, one of the first women granted permission to cross-dress in Paris, in 1850. She was labelled for her rebellious behaviors of smoking, cropping her hair and wearing pants. She was known for her paintings of horses and obsession with Buffalo Bill, and living with women all her life. Bonheur is just one of the 15 women whose life choices, and work have contributed to, shaped and influenced so many, in so many ways.

Each of the 15 women artists included have a short, but detailed bio of their influences for their art, and, of their personal lives. It is absorbing, the artists she has chosen, have lived irreverent and unusual lives. I really thought this was well done, with a great selection of women artists and hope this is the first of many more by Bridget Quinn. After reading this, there are many women artists I will be looking for more information on.

Short, absorbing and essential.
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LibraryThing member KLmesoftly
I really enjoyed this - it's a high level overview but a great jumping-off point! The biographical essays were well-written and engaging, and the selected art included in the illustrations made me want to see more. I look forward to seeing these women "in the wild" as I visit museums in the future!
LibraryThing member dooney
The author writes charmingly of the female artists chosen and her own journey as a student of art history and a writer, making this both a book of biographical sketches and a bit of an autobiography. Her occasional analyses and explanations regarding the featured artists' work is concise and quite
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well informed and well-stated, although I perhaps was looking for something more about the art itself and less autobiographical and aimed at inspiration. Not that these features do not serve a role, and I can see how this book is a great introduction to the artists discussed. It seems obvious to me, although perhaps not always to all (?), that just because women artists have not heretofore received the acclaim of their male counterparts, does not mean that there were not women artists. There are good reference notes in the back for those who wish to explore further, such as myself. The book is no less valuable because it is as much about learning that there are and long have been great women artists, as it is about the art itself, although I suspect I am not the intended audience. I must admit, however, that it is the first book about art that I have read in a while that inspires in me a great need to get myself in front of some great art and really absorb the experience. This is not so much because of the historical aspects of the book, or the parallels and inspirations drawn between the life of the writer and her subjects, but due to her deft and powerful way of describing the art itself and her own reactions to it. Well done.
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Language

Original language

English

Physical description

9.75 inches

ISBN

1452152365 / 9781452152363
Page: 0.2209 seconds