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Women, Art, and Society.

WOMEN, ART, AND SOCIETY. Whitney Chadwick. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1990. Illustrated, 384 pp., hardbound, $24.95.

This book by the author of Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement is an excellent survey of the significant problems and constrictions of women artists from the Middle Ages to the present. A useful preface briefly summarizes the revisionist scholarship that has made a text like this one possible. Chadwick, like others before her, questions the framework of traditional art history, which has developed a chronology of inspired male masters and hierarchies of both media and subject matter. The introduction outlines the disdainful treatment of women artists in literature since Vasari, pointing out how descriptions of their achievements were invariably undercut by references to women's "inherent inferiority" or sermonizing discussions of "feminine" virtues intended to keep women subservient to male authority.

This is a complex account of women's artistic production from medieval manuscript illumination to sculptural installation. Chadwick illustrates (in 193 black-and-white and 50 color plates) quilts, dress and designs, printed silks and glazed pottery, in addition to painting and sculpture. An invaluable reference and an exemplary textbook for women's studies or art history surveys.
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Author:Chadwick, Whitney
Publication:School Arts
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 1992
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