on 21 January 1999
The Guerrilla Girls' Bedside companion to the History of Western Art succeeds on several levels. First of all, it works on a visual level, with graphics that draw you in immediately. But after you are drawn in, one is equally impressed by the text, which is simultaneously informative and humorous. Between the David Letterman-like top 10 lists, the cartoons, and the collages, one is constantly entertained while simultaneously becoming outraged by outdated, demeaning quotes about women from well-known men. At the same time, one learns a lot about some female artists that have been ignored during our art history studies, and one sees a different perspective on some more famous female artists that were mentioned but treated with less admiration than they probably deserved.
All in all, this book succeeds as an extension of the Guerrilla Girls performance art, reaching out to those of us who couldn't go to a New York opening and see it crashed by these women in Gorilla masks. Hopefully soon, partially thanks to books like this, more people will wonder why most of the nudes in museums are women, while so few of the artists represented in these museums are of that same gender.