Recent Acquisitions at the Library: Global Feminisms and Yin Xiuzhen

The next time you visit NMWA, come to the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center to see new books on contemporary art, as well as reference books, artists’ books, and more!

Global Feminisms: New Directions in Contemporary Art
Exhibition catalogue, Brooklyn Museum (2007)
Edited by Maura Reilly and Linda Nochlin
Full-color illustrations, artist biographies, chapter notes, and a 10-page bibliography

GlobFem_BK-coverThis noteworthy exhibition and its equally impressive catalogue honor and examine trends in feminist art and international women artists whose work deals with political, economic, socio-cultural, gender, sexual, and racial identities. Over 80 contemporary women artists from 50 countries are included, and the artwork encompasses a broad range of artistic mediums and expression.

Editors Maura Reilly, curator of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, and Linda Nochlin, a prominent feminist art historian, and seven other art historians and curators offer a variety of international perspectives on the subject.

Visit the Brooklyn Museum’s website to view videos and an exhibition checklist.

Yin XiuzhenYX_cover
Contemporary Artist Series
Phaidon (2015)
Contributors: Hou Hanru, Wu Hung, Stephanie Rosenthal, and Song Dong
Full-color illustrations, interview, survey, focus, studio visit, and excerpts from the artist’s writing

Yin Xiuzhen, born in Beijing in 1963, is one of China’s leading contemporary artists. Her work addresses globalization, displacement, industrialization, and environmental issues. Her installations and sculptures draw from intense political and economic changes during her childhood and the ’85 New Wave movement.

She first gained international recognition for her 2001 Portable City: Beijing installation, part of an ongoing series incorporating clothing collected from the world’s largest cities in an artistic expression of each city’s urban environment. She has participated in many prestigious group exhibitions worldwide and was featured at the Museum of Modern Art in 2010.

Yin Xiuzhen

Yin Xiuzhen inside her Heterotopic Cavitity 2009 installation

This first comprehensive monograph of Yin’s work provides an in-depth exploration of the artist’s background and creative process, including full-color illustrations of the artist’s work, an interivew with the artist, an essay examining historical and cultural contexts, previously unpublished writings by the artist, and insight into her studio practice.

All are welcome to look at these books, which are on display in the LRC’s reading room. If you’re touring the museum’s exhibitions, the library makes a great starting point on the fourth floor. In addition to beautiful books and comfy reading chairs, visitors enjoy interesting exhibitions that feature artists’ books, archival manuscripts, and rare books. Reference Desk staff are always happy to answer questions and offer assistance. Open Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–noon and 1–5 p.m.

—Jennifer Page is the library assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Graphic Novels to Watch Out For: “Marbles” by Ellen Forney

Alongside the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center’s current exhibition, The First Woman Graphic Novelist: Helena Bochořáková-Dittrichová, the library’s display shelves currently feature fantastic contemporary graphic novels by women. Last month on NMWA’s blog, we recommended Fun Home by Alison Bechdel and now we’re back to highlight another great graphic novel and the woman author responsible for its creation.

MarblesMarbles, by cartoonist Ellen Forney, is a memoir of her diagnosis with bipolar disorder right before her 30th birthday. Forney depicts the years that follow, highlighting her struggle to find a balance between mental stability and her creativity. Throughout the novel Forney explores the concept of “the crazy artist” and finds inspiration from the lives of other artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe and Vincent van Gogh, who also suffered from mood disorders. The questions Forney ultimately wants to answer are: is there is a correlation between an artist’s creativity and mood disorder, and what are the strengths and limitations of medication on her passion and work?

In addition to being New York Times Bestseller, Marbles was named Best Graphic Novel of 2012 by the Washington Post, Time Magazine, and Entertainment Weekly. Forney was also the recipient of the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis 2013 Gradiva Award.

Forney uses the graphic form to create a deeply personal and dynamic memoir. The combination of the panel-style comics, realistic drawings of photographs, and scans from her personal sketchbook lend an insight into how Forney’s mood disorder affects her creative process as well as the differing artistic styles produced during her periods of mental stability on and off medication. Marbles is an intimate exploration of the effects of a mood disorder and the personal struggle of therapy and medication. Forney is able to make the reader feel in the moment when reading her recounts of manic episodes as they follow her journey of ultimately coming to terms with her own identity of the “crazy artist.”

Ellen Forney’s website

Ellen Forney’s website

Ellen Forney’s Marbles and many other excellent graphic novels are waiting on the shelves for visitors’ viewing and reading pleasure in the library! Visit the museum, view the works on display, and stop by the library to learn more about Helena Bochořáková-Dittrichová and the work of female graphic novelists.

—Molly Krost is an intern in the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Graphic Novels to Watch Out For: “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel

Alongside the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center’s current exhibition, The First Woman Graphic Novelist: Helena Bochořáková-Dittrichová, the library’s display shelves currently feature fantastic contemporary graphic novels by women. There are gems in the LRC to discover, even for lifelong enthusiasts of comics and graphic novels. Here on NMWA’s blog this fall, we will post a series of short reviews to highlight a selection of great graphic novels and the women authors who are creating them today.

LRC_Bechdel-coverDon’t miss Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel, which chronicles the author’s youth in a rural Pennsylvania town and her complex relationship with her father. The art and story by Bechdel, a recent McArthur Foundation fellowship winner, have indelible emotional impact.

Bechdel presents her father, a third-generation funeral home director and high-school English teacher, as a cold and distant parent who grapples with his closeted bisexuality. She depicts her complex desire for a connection with him, the unspoken bond they begin to share over literature, and the heartbreaking events that quickly unfold after Bechdel discovers her own sexuality as a lesbian.

Fun Home has received wide commercial success, spending two weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list, and has been named by numerous publications, including Time and Entertainment Weekly, one of the best books of 2006.

Bechdel’s artistic style, along with her well-crafted narratives, work together to create rich scenes that reveal darkly funny childhood memories of growing up in a funeral home and painful accounts of a lost relationship with her father. Bechdel successfully blends the comics genre with memoir to convey a powerful, poignant story of sexual orientation, gender roles, suicide, and dysfunctional family life. Her journey works on specific and broad levels—readers can find connections to the larger human experience as well as moments that evoke strong personal memories.

Fun Home continues to impact readers and find new audiences since it was first published. A musical adaptation of the book, written by playwright Lisa Kron and composer Jeanine Tesori, ran off-Broadway last year and is planned for a Broadway showing in 2015.

The exhibition of work by Helena Bochořáková-Dittrichová, Bechdel’s Fun Home, and many other excellent graphic novels are available for visitors’ viewing and reading pleasure in the library! Visit the museum, view the works on display, and stop by the library learn more about the work of female graphic novelists.

—Molly Krost is an intern in the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

LRC Book Review: Life Stories of Women Artists, 1550–1880

Julia K. Dabbs opens her book, Life Stories of Women Artists, 1550–1880 (Ashgate, 2009), with the following quotation from Christine de Pizan’s Livre de la Cité des Dames (Book of the City of Ladies):

One would find any number of superior women throughout

the world, if one took the trouble to look for them. ¹

Though Christine de Pizan was writing six hundred years ago, the quotation still rings true today. Fortunately, Dabbs makes the search a little easier through her anthology on women artists. A recent acquisition at the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center, this compilation includes 46 biographical narratives written by the artists’ contemporaries, more than half of which are newly translated into English. Each biography is easily digestible, but packed with information. In addition to introducing each artist, Dabbs includes information about the biographer, which is critical to fully understanding the work.

LifeStories_DabbsMany of the biographers made efforts to maintain a “feminine” appeal for their subjects. Lavinia Fontana’s biographer insists that she is unique not because she is a woman, but for her ability to paint naturalistic works. The biographer of Elisabetta Sirani inexplicably labels Lavinia Fontana’s work timid and typical of the weaker sex, whereas Sirani’s work is bold and ferocious, a description that not only puzzles Dabbs, but also anyone who has seen a painting by Elisabetta Sirani.

Perhaps one of the most interesting stories is that of Maria Sibylla Merian, 17th-century naturalist and illustrator. Unlike many naturalists of her time, Merian actually bred and observed insects to accurately document stages of metamorphosis. Even more extraordinary, at the age of 52, she traveled to the Dutch colony of Suriname in South America to document exotic botanical and entomological specimens.

Maria Sibylla Merian, Plate 1 from Dissertation in Insect Generations and Metamorphosis in Surinam, 1719; Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay.

Maria Sibylla Merian, Plate 1 from Dissertation in Insect Generations and Metamorphosis in Surinam, 1719; Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay.

Works by Lavinia Fontana, Elisabetta Sirani, and Élisabeth Vigée-LeBrun, all featured in Dabbs’s anthology, are on view at NMWA. In addition, several of Merian’s manuscript illustrations are in the collection. Visit the museum and reacquaint yourself with the works on view! While you are here, stop into the library, take a look at Julia K. Dabbs’s book, and learn more about your favorite artists.

The Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center is open to the public M–F, 10 a.m.–noon and 1 p.m.–5 p.m. If you’re touring the museum’s exhibitions, the library makes a great starting point on the fourth floor! We hope to see you soon!

Catherine Gironda is the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Notes

1.

Christine de Pizan, Le Livre de la Cité des Dames (1405; Paris, 1896), section XLI, p. 113, quoted in Julia K. Dabbs, Life Stories of Women Artists, 1550–1880 (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, 2009), 1.

New Acquisitions at the Library: NOX

The next time you visit NMWA, come to the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center to see a work that will appeal to fans of artists’ books and poetry. When opened, the contents of this “book in a box” fold out accordion-style; viewers can approach it as a traditional book and turn the pages, or view it as a sculptural object. A facsimile of a handmade book that Anne Carson, a Canadian poet and classicist, wrote and created after the death of her older brother, Nox beautifully and distinctively portrays the poet’s memories and feelings.

Two views of Anne Carson's NOX

Two views of Anne Carson’s NOX

Inside, reproductions of family photos, drawings, collages, and letters commemorate her brother’s life and express her attempts at coming to terms with her loss. Accompanying the illustrations is a beautiful translation of Catullus 101 by the Roman poet Gaius Valerius Catullus, which was addressed to his dead brother. Other text includes definitions of various words relating to family and loss, pasted in dictionary format, and personal written excerpts from her notebook. The effect is a beautiful epitaph to a loved one, inspiring in both content and form.

We welcome all to stop by the Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center to look at this beautiful book in person. We’re open to the public Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–noon and 1–5 p.m. If you’re touring the museum’s exhibitions, the library makes a great starting point on the fourth floor! In addition to the beautiful books and comfy reading chairs, visitors enjoy the interesting exhibitions that feature artist’s books, archival manuscripts, and rare books. Reference Desk staff are always happy to answer questions and offer assistance. We hope to see you soon!

—Jennifer Page is the library assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

New Book Acquisitions at the Library: KYOPO

KYOPO

Many of you may be familiar with Korean photographer Cindy Hwang, known as CYJO, from her participation in the National Portrait Gallery’s 2011–12 exhibition Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter. She is best known for her KYOPO Project, an ongoing series of more than 200 full-body portraits that speak about Korean immigration and cultural identity. With these portraits, CYJO hopes to highlight the diversity of kyopo—a Korean term that describes people of Korean descent who reside permanently outside of Korea—and challenge preconceptions of Korean identity.

CYJO poses each portrait frontally against a plain white backdrop and wood floor. Each person faces and meets the gaze of the viewer.  When seen as a group, individual characteristics in each portrait immediately jump out; clothing choices, stance, and expressions all add to the diversity that CYJO hopes to express. Individual portraits are paired with the person’s name, basic biographical information, and their words on their feelings and experiences of being a Korean immersed in another culture.

KYOPO-Project-BookUmbrage Editions published a handsome catalogue of the KYOPO Project. It includes 237 full-color reproductions of her portraits alongside corresponding text, as well as insightful essays by Julian Stallabras (a writer, curator, photographer, and Art History professor at the Courtauld Institute of Art) and Marie Myung-OK Lee (resident and teacher at the Center for the Study of Race & Ethnicity in America at Brown University). For any fans of Lost actor Daniel Dae Hyun Kim, he’s included here as well!

We welcome all to stop by to look at this beautiful book in person. We’re open to the public M–F, 10 a.m.–noon and 1 p.m.–5 p.m. If you’re touring the museum’s exhibitions, the library makes a great starting point on the fourth floor! In addition to the beautiful books and comfy reading chairs, visitors enjoy interesting exhibitions featuring artists’ books, archival manuscripts, and rare books. Reference Desk staff are always happy to answer questions and offer assistance. We hope to see you soon!

—Jennifer Page is the Library Assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

June Highlights at the Library

One of the perks of cataloguing in NMWA’s Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center is the opportunity to discover interesting books that we’re adding to the library. I recently had the fortune to process an amazing folio-sized Joana Vasconcelos monograph.

vasconcelosCoverIt is an impressive book, measuring over 40 cm. high, and it includes 350 pages with 200 full-color reproductions of her work spanning 15 years. Added perks include layout and design by award-winning graphic designer Ricardo Mealha, careful editing by publisher Livrario Fernando Machado, an interview with the artist, and full-page images of this amazing artist’s work.

For those who aren’t familiar with Joana Vasconcelos, she’s worth knowing. Now living and working Lisbon, Portugal, she creates sculptures and site-specific installations that appropriate elements of everyday life—ready-mades, Nouveau Réalisme, and pop come to mind—with a mastery of color and sense of scale. Objects are removed from context and placed in surprising and creative arrangements that challenge the viewer to imagine new meanings. I especially love her large-scale colorful installations. Check out her Contaminação on pages 18–33, and animal sculptures wrapped in crochet mesh, pages 116–140. (Also, click here to see her work Viriato in NMWA’s collection!)

We welcome all to stop by to look at this beautiful book in person. We’re open to the public M–F, 10 a.m.–noon and 1–5 p.m. If you’re touring the museum’s exhibitions, the library makes a great starting point on the fourth floor! In addition to the beautiful books and comfy reading chairs, visitors enjoy interesting exhibitions of artists’ books, archival manuscripts, and rare books. Reference Desk staff are always happy to answer questions and offer assistance. We hope to see you soon!

—Jennifer Page is the library assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

New Books at the Library!

Come by any time the library is open to view these new additions! The Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center is located on NMWA’s 4th floor and is open to the public Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–noon and 1–5 p.m. Just ask at the reference desk; we would be happy to retrieve these books for you to read in the reading room. You can also search the library’s collection anywhere and anytime with the online catalogue: http://nmwa.kohalibrary.com.

Morisot

Berthe Morisot: 1841–1895 (Hazan, 2012)

The Musee Marmottan Monet, which possesses the largest public collection of work by Morisot in the world, organized a retrospective exhibition honoring the influential female Impressionist artist, the first in Paris since 1941. The accompanying catalogue presents a comprehensive scholarly overview with visually stunning full-color reproductions, arranged chronologically, of her paintings, drawings, pastels, watercolors, and graphic work.  For those interested in learning more about the artist, the text provides wonderful analysis into her technique, visual style, and life, along with two pages of bibliography.

In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2012)

wonderland_coverFor fans of Surrealism and women artists, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art published a beautiful catalogue to accompany its exhibition from last January. Billed as the first of its kind, the exhibition approached surrealism from a feminist perspective—featuring 50 female surrealist artists such as Frida Kahlo, Remedios Varo, and Lola Alvarez Bravo—and narrowed the focus to the United States and Mexico. The reader will find interesting insightful essays, striking full-color reproductions of artwork, and a selected six-page bibliography. A must-see for any Surrealist art lover!

—Jennifer Page is the library assistant at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Lee Krasner: A Fascinating and Iconic Modernist Master

Art historian and author Gail Levin will be at NMWA to read from and discuss her new biography about painter Lee Krasner.

Sunday, April 3, 2-3:30 p.m. Free and open to the public! Book signing follows. No reservations required.

For many years, Lee Krasner was overshadowed by her formidable husband, the renowned Jackson Pollock. Yet at Gail Levin shows, this independent woman of uncompromising talent and fiery genius was a significant artist in her own right well deserving of recognition in the twentieth century’s culture lexicon.

At turns vivid and eye-opening, Lee Krasner: A Biography (William Morrow, 2011) examines the evolution of a woman whose life was as dramatic and intriguing as her art. Drawing on brand new sources, Levin offers a dynamic, comprehensive portrait of this brilliant woman who grew up an impoverished Jewish girl in Brooklyn and made trouble in the late 1920s and early 1930s as a tough, unreserved, outspoken artist, feminist, and community sympathizer. Deeply insecure, irascible, and stubborn, Krasner was also magnetic, with the “kind of animal energy and voluptuousness we later came to call sex appeal,” said a friend.

In 1945, Krasner married Pollock, a passionate relationship defined by tenderness and duplicity that would have a significant influence on both their work. Levin probes Krasner’s struggles with Pollock examining how this willful woman was wrecked by her husband’s alcoholism, destructive behavior, and secret love affairs. Throughout, Levin colorfully analyzes how these events and relationships all contributed to Krasner’s mythic status as one of the most polemic artists of the last century.

Lee Krasner is one of only four women ever to have a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, and her work is displayed in major collection, including MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Tate Modern in London, and the Australian National Gallery. The house that Krasner and Pollock shared in East Hampton is now a museum and a national Historic Landmark.

Lee Krasner's The Springs, 1964, in NMWA's collection, refers to the village near East Hampton, on Long Island, where she and Jackson Pollock moved in 1945.

Levin was a personal friend of Krasner’s and owns recorded interviews with the artist whom she first met when she was a graduate student in 1971 (twenty-two year old Levin decided to interview sixty-two year old Krasner about Kandinsky’s influence on Pollock’s work). Levin also knew many of the other people featured in the book, including Edward Albee, Richard Howard and B.H. Friedman, Pollock’s first biographer, among many others—some of whom she met through Krasner. On her connection with Krasner, Levin explains:

Author Gail Levin

“I never forgot the impact Krasner had on my life. In 1989, five years after her death, I purchased a home in Springs, not far from Krasner and Pollock’s house, where I had had my most extensive visits with her. In fact, for me, she seemed to embody that distant part of Long Island.

Before I bought my house, I collected many souvenirs during my travels to distant places, including a collection of exotic seashells. When I moved into my new home, I decided to use them decoratively, placing she shells on a shelf in the bedroom. It just seemed natural.

It wasn’t until I visited the newly opened Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center in 1991 that I rediscovered that Lee had kept the shelves in her bedroom. On some subconscious level, these shells had come to define for me how a house in Springs ought to look. Knowing Krasner enriched my life. She had deeply affected me, and the shells were just one small clue to the many dimensions of her influence upon me.”

Lee Krasner is an absorbing biography that offers a startling fresh look at the woman best known as Jackson Pollock’s wife—a firebrand and trailblazer for women’s rights and one of the twentieth century’s modernist masters.

Gail Levin is the author of twelve previous books and is an expert on the lives and work of Edward Hopper and Lee Krasner. She is currently a distinguished professor of art history at Baruch College and the Graduate School of the City of New York. She has lectured all over the world, curated exhibits in New York City, Valencia, Tokyo, and has photographs in public collections in New York and Georgia.

A Tribute to a "Singularly Painterly Painter"

“I love only extreme novelty or the things of the past.”–Berthe Morisot

Art historian Jean-Dominique Rey’s new book, Berthe Morisot (Flammarion, 2011), with an introduction by Musée d’Orsay curator Sylvie Patry, presents a comprehensive tribute to the life and career of the remarkable French artist, from her precocious talent as a child drawing and painting with her sister, to her strikingly loose works produced during the last years of her life. While Rey acknowledges that Morisot had all the blessings of “fairies” to become a professional artist—born into an affluent family who traveled frequently and encouraged her to hone her talents—he attributes Morisot’s success to her passion: “Beneath her gentle appearance, this woman possessed an unshakeable will, so that nothing could divert her chosen path. Her work demanded effort and tenacity, but the cost was never apparent.”

Rey details the pivotal events in Morisot’s life, including her first drawing lesson at age sixteen and her introduction to Édouard Manet in 1868. Rey elaborates on Morisot’s often misconstrued relationship with Manet (more mutual muses than pupil-teacher) and her equal status among the other Impressionists who were all men (Mary Cassatt joined later). In fact, Impressionism was the first movement in painting to include a woman among its founding members. In 1874, Morisot participated in the first Impressionist exhibition and experimented with brushwork and light alongside her fellow artists, yet she had something the other members could never have: in reference to a portrait by Morisot, Rey explains, “The picture shows a blend of charm and sensuality to which only a woman artist can aspire, depending as it does on a powerful identification with womankind, and a deep knowledge of the female state.” Berthe Morisot includes elegant reproductions of the artist’s paintings as well as her often-overlooked watercolors, pastels, and drawings—all timeless and full of charm. An extensive timeline with archival photos and reproductions of letters written by and to Morisot sheds light on the artist’s world. Rey concludes the book with quotes from writers and poets of Morisot’s time—Emile Zola and Stéphane Mallarmé among many others—who followed the impressive career of the woman whom Paul Valéry called the “essence of distinction.”

Berthe Morisot (hardcover, 288 pages, 150 illustrations) will be available in February in the Museum Shop. Jean-Dominique Rey, art historian and curator, has published numerous essays, memoirs, and books including Monet: Water Lilies (Flammarion, 2008). Sylvie Patry has organized two retrospective exhibitions on Morisot.

–Vivian Djen is managing editor at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.