Women, Art, and Society – Fourth Edition; Whitney Chadwick. Thames & Hudson Ltd., London; 2007. ISBN 978-0-500-20393
I purchased this book in 2009, just prior to my last residency at the Banff Center where I was meeting with two artist friends to further deepen our research and study of women and aging throughout the various stages of adulthood.
It has taken me a while to read through this in-depth study which challenges the assumption that great women artists are the exception to the rule, leading to the denial of their female role in society while producing major works of art. Chadwick’s research reexamines the works of women who have contributed to the visual arts since the Middle Ages. She acknowledges how the works themselves have been perceived as marginal, often as a direct result of the creator’s gender. While her focus is based on the role of feminism and it’s influence on her subject of study, Chadwick includes the closely related issues of ethnicity, class and sexuality.
The fourth edition includes the most recent trends in contemporary art of the early 21st Century and summarizes some of the ways current women artists have revisited and even subverted earlier feminist strategies.
This is not an easy bedtime read, however I believe that this book is a must in any woman artist’s essential library. Whitney Chadwick’s writing is well informed. While packed with historical facts and 318 illustrations (93 in color) the reader is quickly transported to the era under scrutiny gaining excellent insights and providing sound facts in turn bringing clarity to why women artists have not been as respected as their male counterparts throughout history.