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The Art of Reflection: Women Artists' Self-Portraiture in the Twentieth Century [Hardcover]

Marsha Meskimmon
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Aug 1996
Self-portraiture has long been a means for the male artist to assert an identity as masterful creator or tortured soul; women have overwhelmingly been presented as objects, and rarely as subjects of self-portraiture. In recent years, however, women artists have used their work to disrupt this tradition. With 43 illustrations of works by Louise Bourgeois, Frida Kahlo, Alice Neel, Cindy Sherman, and Jo Spence, among others, "The Art of Reflection" is the first sustained inquiry into the appropriation of self-portraiture by women. In suggestive critical meditations on paintings, photographic work, sculpture, performance art, and body art, Marsha Meskimmon shows how twentieth-century women artists have undermined male-centered definitions of how "the artist" depicts the self.Drawing upon feminist theory and philosophy from Simone de Beauvoir to Luce Irigaray, "The Art of Reflection" casts doubt on the idea of self-portrait as a mirror, in which the static self is rendered accurately and naturalistically. Meskimmon evokes a series of myths about what an artist is, how "he" should be represented, and how "his" work is to be read as autobiography. Through close readings of the imaginative self-representations of women artists - as male artist and god, as central player in the studio and in the Christian passion - she shatters these myths. In an absorbing assessment of the ways women artists have negotiated the complex group of roles ascribed to "woman," Meskimmon considers the partially nude painting by pregnant artist Paula Modersohn-Becker and performance artist Annie Sprinkle's confrontation of the thin line between celebration of female sexuality and objectification of the female body. As a nuanced appreciation of the interpretations of self-portraiture among women artists, "The Art of Reflection" will prove an invaluable resource on a subject that has received little attention from art criticism. Meskimmon's work also presents a bold challenge to critical tradition, compelling readers to rethink the meaning of the genre as a whole.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Scarlet Press (1 Aug 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857270231
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857270235
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,461,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Marsha Meskimmon is author of Domesticity and Dissent: The Role of Women Artists in Germany, 1918-1938, and coeditor of Visions of the Neue Frau: Women in the Visual Arts in Weimar Germany. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Arrived on time 28 Feb 2013
By cheryl
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An interesting read, I could relate to how certain artists like Joan Semmel uses her own body as the subject as there would be restrictions using another.
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2 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the art of relfection 23 Feb 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
a contemporary, broadelly fundamented and extremelly well illustrated analysis of the self-representation practices among women artists
the social, biological and economical determinations that have ruled this field throughout history
different perspectives for the comprehension of the renewed challange of women's role in art.
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