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Celebrating "Painting Her Pleasure" – A Hyperallergic Review Reflection

Updated: May 11

In a thoughtful and illuminating review by Bridget Quinn for Hyperallergic, Painting Her Pleasure: Three Women Artists and the Nude in Avant-Garde Paris is heralded as a groundbreaking exploration into the nuanced and often overlooked narratives of female artists in early 20th-century Paris. This review not only praises the book's insightful dissection of historical art narratives but also emphasizes the significant contributions of its subjects—Émilie Charmy, Marie Vassilieff, and Suzanne Valadon—who reclaimed the artistic portrayal of the nude.

Breaking Ground in Art History

Quinn eloquently describes how my book dismantles the enduring myth that the avant-garde movement in Paris was primarily advanced by male interpretations of the female nude. Instead, it places the spotlight on three pioneering women whose works presented a prescient vision that challenged and expanded the boundaries of modernism. This critique aligns with the growing recognition that the story of modern art is incomplete without acknowledging the contributions of women who operated both within and against the prevailing norms of their time.

Reclamation and Transformation of the Nude

What makes Quinn's review particularly resonant is her acknowledgment of the unique perspectives each artist brought to the avant-garde scene. From Vassilieff's dual-sided canvases exploring gender and race to Charmy's intimate portrayals of pregnancy and Valadon's bold representations of black and male nudes, these artists utilized their art to navigate and narrate their experiences and identities in a rapidly evolving society.

Gender, Race and Power in Art

The review underlines a crucial aspect of the book: its ability to engage with and enrich current dialogues around art and representation. As Quinn notes, the works of these artists are not just historical artifacts but are active participants in ongoing conversations about gender, race, and power in art. This engagement is particularly important in an era where the need for diverse voices and stories in cultural discourse is increasingly recognized.

Why Read "Painting Her Pleasure"?

For readers and art enthusiasts, "Painting Her Pleasure" offers more than just a historical account; it provides a lens through which to view the complexities of artistic creation and representation. It challenges the reader to consider how narratives are formed and whose stories are told in the art world. This book is not only for those interested in art history but for anyone engaged in the broader cultural discussions about inclusivity and the recognition of marginalized voices.

Quinn’s review is a testament to the ongoing relevance of the artists discussed in the book and the enduring impact of their work. It invites readers to rediscover and reevaluate the contributions of these remarkable women to the narrative of modern art.

"Painting Her Pleasure" is available now through Manchester University Press and can be found both online and in bookstores. Dive into this profound exploration of art, identity, and resistance in Avant-Garde Paris and join the conversation about the essential roles women have played—and continue to play—in the arts.

Read the Hyperallergic review here: "Three Modernist Women Who Reclaimed the Nude"

Hyperrallergic review on Painting her pleasure

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