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The Mirror and the Palette

Rebellion, Revolution and Resilience: 500 Years of Women's Self-Portraits

Jennifer Higgie

$39.99

Hardback

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Weidenfeld & Nicolson
30 March 2021
Her story weaves in and out of time and place. She's Frida Kahlo, Lois Mailou Jones and Amrita Sher-Gil en route to Mexico City, Paris or Bombay. She's Suzanne Valadon and Gwen John, craving city lights, the sea and solitude; she's Artemisia Gentileschi striding through the streets of Naples and Paula Modersohn-Becker in Worpswede. She's haunting museums in her paint-stained dress, scrutinising how El Greco or Titian or Van Dyck or Cezanne solved the problems that she too is facing. She's railing against her corsets, her chaperones, her husband and her brothers; she's hammering on doors, dreaming in her bedroom, working day and night in her studio. Despite the immense hurdles that have been placed in her way, she sits at her easel, picks up a mirror and paints a self-portrait because, as a subject, she is always available.

Until the twentieth century, art history was, in the main, written by white men who tended to write about other white men. The idea that women in the West have always made art was rarely cited as a possibility. Yet they have - and, of course, continue to do so - often against tremendous odds, from laws and religion to the pressures of family and public disapproval.

In THE MIRROR AND THE PALETTE, Jennifer Higgie introduces us to a cross-section of women artists who embody the fact that there is more than one way to understand our planet, more than one way to live in it and more than one way to make art about it. Spanning 500 years, biography and cultural history intertwine in a narrative packed with tales of rebellion, adventure, revolution, travel and tragedy enacted by women who turned their back on convention and lived lives of great resilience, creativity and bravery. This is a dazzlingly original and ambitious book by one of the most well-respected art critics at work today.
By:   Jennifer Higgie
Imprint:   Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 236mm,  Width: 162mm,  Spine: 34mm
Weight:   584g
ISBN:   9781474613774
ISBN 10:   1474613772
Pages:   336
Publication Date:   30 March 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

JENNIFER HIGGIE is an Australian writer who lives in London. She has a BA in Fine Art from the Canberra School of Art, and a MA from Victoria College of the Arts, Melbourne; her paintings are in various public and private collections in Australia. Previously the editor of frieze magazine, she is now frieze editor-at-large and the presenter of Bow Down, a podcast about women in art history. She is also a screenwriter, the editor of a collection of writings on art and humour THE ARTIST'S JOKE, a novel, BEDLAM, and a children's book, THERE'S NOT ONE.

Reviews for The Mirror and the Palette: Rebellion, Revolution and Resilience: 500 Years of Women's Self-Portraits

[An] illuminating new study on why women have been largely shut out of art history. Higgie's clever thesis looks at self-portraits as a springboard, giving fresh insights into brilliant artists such as Frida Kahlo, Lois Mailou Jones, Amrita Sher-Gil, Suzanne Valadon, Gwen John, Artemisia Gentileschi and Paula Modersohn-Becker * THE ART NEWSPAPER * Sumptuous as well as fascinating -- Rachel Cooke * OBSERVER * A bewitching, invigorating history of women artists, the work they've made and the impossibly hard conditions in which it was produced. I can't think of a more satisfying riposte to anyone who asks why there have been no great women artists than to present them with this incandescent book -- OLIVIA LAING


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