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Reviewed by:
  • The Color of Stone: Sculpting the Black Female Subject in Nineteenth-Century America, and: Chicana Art: The Politics of Spiritual and Aesthetic Altarities, and: Feminist Art and the Maternal, and: WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution
  • Elizabeth Adan (bio)
The Color of Stone: Sculpting the Black Female Subject in Nineteenth-Century America by Charmaine A. Nelson. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007, 272 pp., $82.50 hardcover, $27.50 paper.
Chicana Art: The Politics of Spiritual and Aesthetic Altarities by Laura E. Pérez. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007, 408 pp., $89.95 hardcover, $24.95 paper.
Feminist Art and the Maternal by Andrea Liss. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009, 200 pp., $75.00 hardcover, $24.95 paper.
WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution organized by Cornelia Butler and edited by Lisa Gabrielle Mark. Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press in conjunction with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2007, 512 pp., $59.95 hardcover.

Since the 1971 publication of Linda Nochlin's groundbreaking essay "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?" the fields of feminist inquiry and art history have been intertwined. Generally considered to be one of the first examples of feminist art history, Nochlin's article was joined by additional publications that together outlined a series of critical questions for and approaches to feminist art historical work (for example, Duncan 1993; Parker and Pollock 1981; Tickner 1988). In particular, feminist art history has taken up a number of interventionist projects, ranging from the recovery of women artists whose accomplishments have often been written out of art history, along with the reconsideration of women artists whose work has frequently been dismissed as minor or derivative, to the interrogation of gender codes, stereotypes, and structural inequities faced by women as artists, patrons, models, and images.

At the same time that feminist art history began to develop in the 1970s, Women's Studies also started to take shape as a discipline, pursuing some of the same types of projects as feminist art history, though seldom in relation to the so-called high or fine arts, decorative arts, and craft practices that are generally considered to be the purview of art history. In contrast, in its work on visual media and representational practices, Women's Studies scholarship has more often focused on the ways in which mass or popular culture contributes to and constitutes normative gender roles and stereotypes, and uses such norms [End Page 186] to discipline experiences and expressions of gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, and the like.

Both feminist art history and Women's Studies have also engaged with and in critical race, postcolonial, queer, and Marxist theories and related fields, and these additional modes of intellectual and political work have become perhaps especially integrated into Women's Studies scholarship, in the form of the intellectual and political framework of intersectionality (for example, Collins 2000; Crenshaw 1991; Lorde 1984; Moraga 1983). While intersectionality has not resolved all of the problems of Eurocentrism, heterosexism, and classism in feminism and Women's Studies, its insistence that gender is never isolated from race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, and related experiences—and that feminist analyses that disregard the interrelationships among these modes of oppression and/or privilege are inadequate to the larger intellectual demands and political goals of feminism—is something that many examples of feminist art history, and indeed of art history in general, have been somewhat slow to heed.1

This is not to suggest that feminist art history and Women's Studies are mutually exclusive, even if complementary, areas of study; considerable overlap between the two fields continues to develop, especially as scholarship on visual art and representation makes greater use of intersectionality and related concepts, as is evident in the four recent publications under review. While three of these books focus especially on late modern and contemporary art since the 1960s, Charmaine A. Nelson's The Color of Stone: Sculpting the Black Female Subject in Nineteenth-Century America investigates neoclassical sculpture by British and American artists working in Italy, and especially Rome, in the nineteenth century. In particular, Nelson examines neoclassical sculpture for the ways in which, with its prevalence of polished white...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2151-7371
Print ISSN
2151-7363
Pages
pp. 186-195
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-10
Open Access
No
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