Review by Choice Review
This well-conceived biographical dictionary covers women artists working in the Western tradition from the Middle Ages through the mid-20th century. Each of the 600 entries, arranged in alphabetical order, provides biographical information, a list of exhibitions, a bibliography, a signed essay by a specialist, and, in most cases, a black-and-white illustration. Twenty introductory surveys on topics ranging from amateur artists to training and professionalism help place the individual entries in historical context. In accord with recent feminist studies, this dictionary does not present the selected artists as a new canon but as a representation of the wide range of artistic activities in which women have been engaged and of how those activities took place in a patriarchal society. A general bibliography, a chronological list of the artists, and information on the contributors increase this resource's usefulness. The much more substantive content of this new dictionary will complement rather than replace Chris Petteys's Dictionary of Women Artists (CH, Jul'85), whose brief entries cover more than 21,000 artists. Clearly written, this reference work is likely to be heavily used, and it is unfortunate that it is not more durably bound. Highly recommended for general readers and undergraduates through faculty. K. S. Esau University of Oregon
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
Penny Dunford's Biographical Dictionary of Women Artists in Europe and America since 1850 (Univ. of Pennsylvania, 1990) deemphasized commercial success as a criterion for inclusion and discussed social, cultural, and familial challenges to female artists. Dictionary of Women Artists (DWA) expands this approach chronologically and geographically while targeting a smaller number of artists for more intensive treatment. DWA includes excellent introductory surveys and exceptionally insightful, scholarly articles on 600 women who worked as professional or amateur artists in a variety of media. The selection of biographees and the point of view reflect the redefinition of standards for art-historical significance that has occurred over the last 25 years. The introductory surveys and biographical essays note challenges and impediments women faced when attempting to obtain training and professional recognition, including prohibition from studying live models, the necessity of male protection or patronage, exclusion from academies, and overshadowing by the artist's spouse or partner. The purpose of DWA is to consolidate and make available to researchers and students the wealth of information that has been uncovered and recovered, as scholars have attempted to write women artists back into history. The dictionary is the work of a stellar group of 330 advisors and contributors, most of whom are museum professionals or faculty members of colleges and universities in the U.S. and Europe. Twenty introductory essays provide the context for the biographies. The excellent essays should be considered required reading for anyone undertaking an investigation into women's roles in artistic production. The essays on medieval women artists are especially fresh and innovative, discussing new ideas about women as cultural patrons, female presence in guilds, and the importance of women's work in minor arts such as precious metals. Each essay is signed and includes footnotes and an extensive, chronologically arranged bibliography. The 600 biographees were selected from lists drawn up by the advisors and contributors. Because emphasis is historic rather than contemporary, subjects born after 1945 were excluded. Also excluded were architects and interior, garden, and fashion designers. The scope includes artists from the Middle Ages to the present in Europe, America, and Australasia. An inescapable Anglo-American bias results from an abundance of literature on artists in these areas. Priority was given to earlier artists, those who have attracted critical comment, those whose work was relevant to women's issues, and recent artists with public profiles and strong exhibiting careers. Articles cover all the expected, well-known artists, but strengths of the dictionary include its coverage of less-familiar amateur artists with exhibit careers and some professional recognition and artists working in the decorative arts, including book arts, ceramics, textiles, flower painting, embroidery, and glass calligraphy. A chronological list of artists reveals that Ende, a Spanish illuminator who worked around A.D. 975; Hildegard of Bingen (1098^-1179); and Herrad, abbess of Hohenbourg (active 1178^-1196), are the earliest artists represented by articles in DWA. Barbara Kruger, Susan Rothenberg, and Dana Zamecnikova, all born in 1945, are among the most recent. Some of DWA's scholarship on earlier artists is groundbreaking. For example, Pamela Patton of Southern Methodist University presents here for the first time discussion of Teresa Diaz's fourteenth-century choir frescoes in Toro, Spain. Articles are arranged alphabetically by the artist's professional name, with cross-references from alternate names. Headnotes indicate the main area of the artist's activity and her dates. Articles are generally one to six pages in length and include basic biographical information, awards, a list of exhibitions, a list of selected writings by the artist, a bibliography arranged
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review
Incomparably rich, monumental, and up to date, these two volumes present the finest scholarship on women in art "from the Middle Ages to the present day, in countries throughout Europe as well as America and Australia." More than 20 key survey essays preface the main body of the dictionary and contextualize the latest knowledge found in the biographical and bibliographical entries of 600 women artists born before 1945. Twenty-three specialist advisers and 330 contributing scholars have amassed the most unqualifiedly comprehensive work yet completed on women artists (with an admittedly Anglo-American emphasis, owing to the many studies in these areas). This work should be available to all who hope to teach the nuanced history of art as it is known today; others interested in women's studies should at least read the essay "Why a Dictionary of Women Artists at This Time?" One of the finest publications on women artists since Ann Sutherland Harris and Linda Nochlin's Women Artists: 1850-1950 (LJ 5/1/77), the first really substantial publication in this area, this indispensable set belongs on all library reference shelves.Mary Hamel-Schwulst, Towson State Univ., Md. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.