Sunday, March 22, 2020

Five top books about female artists

Annalena McAfee was born in London to a Scottish mother and a Glasgow-Irish father. She founded the Guardian Review, which she edited for six years, and was Arts and Literary Editor of the Financial Times.

Her novels include The Spoiler, Hame, and Nightshade.

At the Guardian, McFee tagged five of the best books about female artists. One of the novels on the list:
John Updike trained as an artist and turned his observational gifts to fiction, using words with the gorgeous precision of the finest sable brush. In Seek My Face, his meta-subject is American art since the 1940s, but the focus is a female painter, Hope Chafetz, unfairly but predictably known less for her work than for the men she married (two celebrated artists). There is a roman-à-clef element, summoning echoes of Lee Krasner impatiently batting away questions about Jackson Pollock, as Updike’s elderly painter is interviewed by a thrusting young female art historian. It’s hard to detect in Updike’s extraordinary portrayal of both women the die-hard misogynist depicted by recent critics. He’s as good on female ageing as he is on art, and behind the unsparing observations of humanity, with all its flaws and vulnerabilities, lies a rueful compassion.

“All a woman does for a man ...” Hope reflects, “is secondary, inessential. Art was what these men had loved – that is, themselves.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue