Women in the Picture (Paperback)
Women, Art and the Power of Looking
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'Incisive and provocative … a sensitive and probing critique' The New York Times
'Essential reading … gripping, inspirational, beautifully written and highly thought-provoking' Dr Helen Gørrill, author of Women Can't Paint
A bold reconsideration of women in art – from the 'Old Masters' to the posts of Instagram influencers
A perfect pin-up, a damsel in distress, a saintly mother, a femme fatale …
Women's identity has long been stifled by a limited set of archetypes, found everywhere in pictures from art history's classics to advertising, while women artists have been overlooked and held back from shaping more empowering roles.
In this impassioned book, art historian Catherine McCormack asks us to look again at what these images have told us to value, opening up our most loved images – from those of Titian and Botticelli to Picasso and the Pre-Raphaelites. She also shows us how women artists – from Berthe Morisot to Beyoncé, Judy Chicago to Kara Walker – have offered us new ways of thinking about women's identity, sexuality, race and power.
Women in the Picture gives us new ways of seeing the art of the past and the familiar images of today so that we might free women from these restrictive roles and embrace the breadth of women's vision.
'A call to arms in a world where the misogyny that taints much of the western art canon is still largely ignored' Financial Times
'It felt like the scales were falling from my eyes as I read it.' The Herald
Dr Catherine McCormack is an art historian and independent curator. She is the founder and course leader of the 'Women and Art' study programme at Sotheby's Institute of Art where she teaches on art, race and gender. She is the author of The Art of Looking Up (2019) and her written work has featured in The Architectural Review, the Independent and Harper's Bazaar as well as numerous exhibition catalogue essays on historical and contemporary art.
'Women in the Picture mounts a sensitive and probing critique of the motifs, the preordained poses and affectations of the female figure in art.'The New York Times
'A call to arms in a world where the misogyny that taints much of the western art canon is still largely ignored'Financial Times
‘I’m glad this book was written because it felt like the scales were falling from my eyes as I read it. Women will continue to be objectified in art and in popular culture, but the book sheds a generous amount of angry light on how we got here.’The Herald
‘Essential reading … gripping, inspirational, beautifully written and highly thought-provoking.’Dr Helen Gørrill, author of Women Can't Paint
'Illuminating … [McCormack] lucidly explains the ways in which women's bodies have become symbols of male desire, sex, and violence, their subjugation culturally treated as "the unquestionable natural order of things" … This eye-opening work will leave readers with plenty to ponder.'Publishers Weekly starred review
'A timely, succinct, aesthetic inquiry into debates about sexuality, objectification, and representation.'Kirkus Reviews
'McCormack succeeds in the nearly impossible task of discussing both the representation of women throughout the history of art as well as how women artists have challenged these male-centric images. She writes beautifully and with an accessible voice, moving effortlessly from the Rokeby Venus to contemporary culture's narcissistic obsession with social media selfies.'Kathy Battista, author of New York New Wave: The Legacy of Feminist Art in Emerging Practices
'Terrifically smart … On this grand tour of western visual culture, you couldn't ask for a better guide than McCormack, an art historian with attitude who offers a rousing new lens for looking "beyond the exchange of seeing and being seen".'Bridget Quinn, author of Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (in That Order)
'A well written and important art history book – one of those rare art history books where an art novice won't feel out of their depth'FAD magazine
'Whip smart and probing'Los Angeles Review of Books
A passionate, serious, yet often entertaining introduction to issues that will be with us for the foreseeable future, their historic context and their implications for women.Washington Post