by Eleanor Heartney et al. Prestel, September 2013. 256 p. ill. ISBN 9783791347592 (pbk.), $39.95.
Reviewed May 2014
Melanie Emerson, Head of Reader Services, Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, The Art Institute of Chicago, email@example.com
In the foreword to the authors’ 2007 publication After the Revolution: Women Who Transformed Contemporary Art, Linda Nochlin asks, “After the revolution comes the reckoning... what has been accomplished, what changed?” With The Reckoning the authors strive to answer the question by publishing a survey of twenty-five contemporary (born post-1960) women artists who have not only benefited from the efforts of earlier feminist practice, but continue to advance the discourse through the production of art.
The book is divided into four sections: “Bad Girls,” “Spellbound,” “Domestic Disturbances,” and “History Lessons.” Each section includes an essay outlining the historical precedence for the theme and placing the younger generation of women artists within the thematic category. Following the introductory essay is a very thoughtful articulation of each artist’s practice and examination of some of the seminal work of their career. Through the analysis of these disparate practices and modes of art making, the authors weave together a revealing narrative of current feminist art, and the ways in which women artists continue to push against the confines of a male-dominated art world.
While artists such as Ghada Amer, Tracey Emin, Wangechi Mutu, Pipilotti Rist, and Kara Walker are often included in the standard surveys of current prominent artists (e.g. Phaidon’s Art Now series), they are generally not discussed in such length or situated in the specific context among other women of their generation. The authors have also made a concerted effort to reflect a more global and diverse community of artists. In doing so, the authors are able to address a wide range of issues concerning women in variety of different cultural contexts.
In addition to the many high quality illustrations scattered throughout the text, this volume contains bibliographies for each of the artists as well as one covering general reference sources. In addition to an index, the appendix consists of graphs and charts highlighting the number of solo museum and gallery exhibitions by gender and the number of awarded MFAs by gender. The statistics are gathered from a select group of institutions, yet the data presents a clear picture of a gender gap in the art world and supports the argument that this book is an important contribution to the field of art history. For this reason the book is highly recommended for all libraries that support the study of contemporary art.