Womans Art Journal


On the Cover

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, Self-Portrait with Two

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard
Self-Portrait with Two Pupils (1785)
oil on canvas, 83" x 59½".
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo: The Metropolitan Museum










By Elsa Honig Fine



By Heidi A. Strobel

DONATELLO'S MARY MAGDALEN: A Model of Courage and Survival

By Martha Levine Dunkelman


ALICE STALLKNECHT: Every Woman to Her Trade

By Ingrid A. Steffensen and Patricia Likos Ricci

AURORA REYES'S ATAQUE A LA MAESTRA RURAL: The First Mural Created by a Mexican Female Artist

By Dina Comisarenco Mirkin


By Virginia Pitts Rembert

THE GREAT DRAPER WOMAN: Muriel Draper and the Art of the Salon

By Betsy Fahlman

RUTH DORRIT YACOBY: Woman Holding the Stream of Her Life

By Angela Levine


Symphonic Poem: The Art of Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson

edited by Carole Miller Genshaft

Reviewed by Robin Rice

Creating Their Own Image: The History of African-American Women Artists

by Lisa E. Farrington

Reviewed by Alicia Craig Faxon

Goya: Images of Women

edited by Janis A. Tomlinson

Whistler, Women, & Fashion

by Margaret F. MacDonald, Susan Grace Galassi, Aileen Ribeiro, with Patricia de Montfort

Reviewed by Kimberly Christman-Campbell

Singular Women: Writiing the Artist

edited by Kristen Frederickson and Sarah E. Webb

Essays on Women Artists, "The Most Excellent"

edited by Liana De Girolami Cheney

Reviewed by Paula Birnbaum

Lavinia Fontana: A Painter and Her Patrons in Sixteenth-Century Bologna

by Caroline P. Murphy

Reviewed by Liana De Girolami Cheney

Kiki Smith: Prints, Books & Things

by Wendy Weitman

Reviewed by Cassandra Langer

Women, Art, and the Politics of Identity in Eighteenth-Century Europe

edited by Melissa Hyde and Jennifer Milam

Reviewed by Madelyn Gutwirth

Architecture and the Politics of Gender in Early Modern Europe

edited by Helen Hills

Reviewed by Lilian H. Zirpolo

Saints, Sinners, and Sisters: Gender and Northern Art in Medieval and Early Modern Europe,

edited by Jane L. Carroll and Alison G. Stewart

Reviewed by Andrea G. Pearson

Women Artists and the Decorative Arts 1880-1935: The gender of ornament,

edited by Bridget Eliot and Janice Helland

Reviewed by Dipti Bhagat

One Point Perspective

Twenty-six years! It's been a long haul. WAJ has been part of my identity for about a third of my life. It has also been a part of Associate Editor Margaret (Peggy) Barlow's identity, as we have worked closely together all these years, each complementing the other's skills. But the situation for women artists has changed dramatically since we cobbled together that first issue, which appeared in May 1980. There were only two new books available to review in each of the first two issues-the others were "re-views" of books, six in all, published since the mid-19th century. Monographs and surveys devoted to women artists now abound, and we have reviewed as many as 20 books per issue. Here we review 13. To demonstrate how far we have come, I often point out the differences between my modestly produced survey, Women and Art, published in 1978 with four color plates, and Peggy Barlow's massive coffeetable-sized Women Artists, published in 1999, with about 300 color plates, most full- or even double-page spreads. Publishing books on women in the arts is now big business, and profitable.

Additionally, more than half the books reviewed here are essay collections, most edited by or including contributions by authors who have written for WAJ, often on the same topic. With this in mind, I felt that our mission was accomplished and closed the last "one point perspective" with the teaser that WAJ would cease publication with 26:2, when an explanation would be offered.

Although Peggy and I were psychologically prepared for the journal to end, it seems our readers were not. The outcry of support was overwhelming, not only from authors like Alicia Faxon, Virginia Rembert, Betsy Fahlman, Cassandra Langer, and Liana Cheney, who have written for the journal on and off since the early eighties (and appear in this issue as well), but from subscribers like June Walker-Wilson, who asked whether there was "anything that could be done to prevent closure." Long-time supporter and many-time author Joan Marter, a professor of art history at Rutgers University, in expressing her dismay suggested that perhaps Rutgers could take it over. Working tirelessly during the summer months to gain the university's support, she was successful. The news is that WAJ will NOT cease publication but will continue with Joan Marter and Peggy Barlow as coeditors. The subscription, advertising, and business affairs will be handled by Old City Publishing of Philadelphia. The look of the journal will be almost the same; only the management will differ.

The cover image, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard's Self-Portrait with Two Pupils (1785), marks a fitting closure to my three-decade obsession with the history of women and art. I sought the painting for the cover of my 1978 survey, but was told by the Metropolitan Museum that it had no transparency fit for reproduction and that the painting was out on loan and unavailable for rephotographing. The painting, I found, was "on loan" to the Costume Institute. (My second choice was an equally compelling image, Artemisia Gentileschi's Self-Portrait as "La Pittura," 1630.)

Labille-Guiard, Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, and Angelica Kauffman were among the artists commissioned by three late-18th century queens-Marie Antoinette, Maria Carolina, and Charlotte-to produce conceptions of femininity to enhance their images, writes Heidi Strobel in "Royal 'Matronage' of Women Artists in the Late-18th Century." Strobel discusses Labille-Guiard's Self-Portrait as well as her 1787 portrait of Louis XV's sister, Madame Adélaïde, and refers to Mary Sheriff's work on Vigée-Lebrun. She also quotes from Sheriff's article on that artist in Women, Art, and the Politics of Identity in Eighteenth Century Europe (edited by Melissa Hyde and Jennifer Milam and reviewed here by Madelyn Gutwirth). That book includes a new reading by Sheriff of Vigée-Lebrun's Marie Antoinette and Her Children (1787) as well as two essays on the Madame Adélaïde portrait and two on Kauffman.

Goya's images of women was the subject of an exhibition and beautifully illustrated catalogue edited by Janis Tomlinson and reviewed by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell. An essay in the Hyde-Milam book considers this same subject, focusing on the artist's depictions of the petimetra-the popular social type who "occupies all but is herself occupied by nothing"-as seen in his painting The Parasol (1777). Goya lived through troubled times and great changes in the lives of women. According to Chrisman-Campbell, "It took a brave woman to sit for Goya; however sumptuously dressed, she was emotionally naked." Another beautifully produced exhibition catalogue on an artist known for his female subjects is Whistler, Women & Fashion by Margaret MacDonald, et al. The catalogue, claims reviewer Chrisman- Campbell, offers "fascinating insights into the mechanics of late- Victorian fashions…[and is grounded] in the reality of [Whistler's] sitters' lives, whether extraordinary or mundane."

Feminist scholars continue to challenge received interpretations of canonical images. Martha Dunkelman does this for Donatello's Mary Magdalen, which she dates to the late 1430s, rather than the 1450s, and suggests was commissioned for Santa Maria Maddalena di Cestello, a convent that provided refuge to repentant prostitutes, rather than for the Baptistry of Florence. Dunkelman sees not a woman ravaged and weakened but a model of strength and survival, most obvious in her muscular arms.

Another bit of received wisdom here challenged is that women lack the physical strength to create murals. In fact, Alice Stallknecht and Aurora Reyes expressed their social, religious, and political beliefs in murals, Reyes within the Mexican mural movement and Stallknecht influenced by that tradition. Reyes's Attack on the Rural Teacher (1936; back cover), commissioned for a school in Mexico City, encompasses her major themes: education, the degradation of women, the repressive politics of both church and state, and the brutality perpetrated against agents of change.

Stallknecht, reversing the usual process, painted her murals and then sought walls for them. Composed of individual canvases and having a Christ-like central figure, The Circle Supper (1935) and Every Man to His Trade (1945), details spread across the inside front covers, depict members of the Chatham, Mass., community from all walks of life. Her boldly expressionistic style eventually may have proved too jarring for Chatham's Congregational Church, where two of her murals were mounted, and in 1943 they were removed. (All her work now hangs in an abandoned railroad building on her family's property.) Virginia Rembert and Betsy Fahlman discovered their respective subjects, Charley Toorop and Muriel Draper, respectively, in a timehonored fashion-while researching male artists. Rembert, a Mondrian scholar, spotted Toorop's "startling paintings" in the basement of The Hague's Gemeentemuseum while examining some seldom-seen Mondrians. Although Toorop is well known in Holland, Rembert's essay is the first extensive examination of her life and work in English. Draper, a salonnière in London and New York before and after World War I, created an environment where creative people could relax and pontificate. She was captured in oil paint by Romaine Brooks, caricatured by Peggy Bacon, and was one of the multitudes depicted in Florine Stettheimer's Cathedrals of Fifth Avenue (c. 1931). (Fahlman came across Draper while doing research on Charles Demuth's architectural paintings.)

Stettheimer and her champion, Barbara Bloemink, make two additional appearances in this issue-in Women Artists and the Decorative Arts 1880-1935, edited by Bridget Elliot and Janice Helland (reviewed by Dipti Bhagat), and in Singular Women: Writing the Artist, edited by Kristen Frederickson and Sarah Webb (reviewed by Paula Birnbaum). Many of the authors in these two anthologies (as well as the editors) have published on their subjects in WAJ. In fact, Sheriff adds another level of understanding to the Vigée-Lebrun project in Singular Women.

Birnbaum also reviews Essays on Women Artists: "The Most Excellent," edited by Liana Cheney. Three contributors to this book-Cheney, Lilian Zirpolo, and Alicia Faxon-also appear in this issue as reviewers. Cheney reviews the first comprehensive English-language study of Lavinia Fontana, by Caroline Murphy (Cheney published an article in WAJ on that artist in 1984). Zirpolo reviews Architecture and the Politics of Gender in Early Modern Europe, edited by Helen Hills; and Faxon reviews Creating Their Own Image: The History of African-American Women Artists by Lisa Farrington (herself a four-time WAJ contributor). Also included in the Cheney collection is Joyce Cohen's "Kiki Smith's Scissors, Paste and Fire," which complements nicely Cassandra Langer's review of the MoMA exhibition catalogue Kiki Smith: Prints, Books & Things, by Wendy Weitman. Langer faults this much ballyhooed feminist artist for denying that appellation. Andrea Pearson reviews another collection of essays, Saints, Sinners and Sisters: Gender and Northern Art in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, edited by Jane Carroll and Alison Stewart. The essays evolved from conference papers and were designed for classroom use, a mission says Pearson, they accomplish. Authors of surveys are often faulted for their omissions. Farrington's elegantly written, comprehensive survey of African- American women artists devotes only a sentence to the art of Aminah Robinson. However, this multimedia artist is the subject of a lavishly produced Abrams book, with quilted cover and foldout reproductions, edited by Carole Genshaft and reviewed here by Robin Rice. Not to be forgotten is the Israeli artist Ruth Dorrit Yacoby, whose art and life are documented by Angela Levine. The only living artist in the Portraits section, she represents the kind of artist living away from the established art centers that we have been pleased to introduce to our readers worldwide. Yacoby deals ritualistically with the pain and pleasure of the female experience, with birth and rebirth, and with the anxiety of watching your children go off to war.

With so many familiar subjects and so many familiar names, I was often in a state of confusion during the editing process. It seemed as though all these friends of WAJ had come home to roost in this issue, what was to have been the last. I thank all the readers of WAJ, and especially our faithful subscribers, for supporting us during our 26 years of publication. The new team promises to retain the journal's high standards, and I urge you to continue your support. My obsession with the lives and work of women artists began more than three decades ago. It is difficult to overcome an obsession, so I am sure you will hear from me again.

Elsa Honig Fine

About Woman's Art Journal

Published semiannually—May and November—since 1980, Woman's Art Journal continues to represent the interests of women and art worldwide. Our articles and reviews cover all areas of women in the visual arts, from antiquity to the present day. Each issue presents current research on a variety of topics, featuring "portraits" of women artists, "issues and insights," and discerning reviews of recent books and exhibition catalogues. Each article is well researched and clearly written. Our authors are international scholars in their fields. A typical 60-page issue contains 20-25 color plates and 25-35 black-and-white illustrations.

WAJ is indexed on all major art indexes and bibliographies, and is used as a supplementary text in many university courses on women and art. The journal is found in university and major libraries worldwide and in selected museum bookshops, including the Metropolitan (New York), Philadelphia, and Nelson-Atkins (Kansas City), and the National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington, D.C.). The full text is also available in the electronic versions of the Art Index and through JSTOR’s Arts & Sciences III Collection.

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