This is why in are delighted today to give you an exclusive preview of the paperback version of Women in the Picture, a book by Catherine McCormack. The book’s subtitle reads, “What Culture Does With Female Bodies.” That is what the author aims throughout the book, to make you understand the power of looking, of understanding, of making her knowledge and learning digestible and accessible.
This book of its time looks at women, the female body, the depiction of women, a diversity of them, and how history has got some history wrong, distorted, or partially erased. We aim to do things a little bit differently through this book club, and we want to exchange with you. This is why the author will answer questions regarding the book and share insights, knowledge and learning with us through stories on Instagram and more!
While we don’t think you will need us to guide you into the reading and that most likely, your brain will catch fire, making connections faster than fast and spark even more questions or lead to an engaging discussion with your circle, we would like you to reflect on the following while reading:
- How art history learning can influence today’s political ideas and viewpoints, especially feminist politics, politics of birth, and women’s rights.
- The way women have been pictured in art for hundreds of years and the difference in how women and men depict them. How this is evolving in today’s art world as we broaden this binary vision of the female body? What are the new narratives that emerge?
Remember to comments like our post to enter our giveaway. We also invite you to follow Catherine McCormack on Instagram under @ womeninthepicture, .ART @artdomains as well as the publisher of the paperback @w.w.norton for an additional chance to win! Finally, get a copy of your book at your local bookstore or on bookshop.org.
Don’t be shy and share your thoughts about the topic or questions that you would like Catherine to address on our exchange on social media! We hope to foster a discussion about images of women, diversity and the politics of it.
Review of the book by evlyne Laurin
I came to this book through my own lenses; a woman, not a mother but in the age range of being one, and having gone through procedures due to a genetic mutation that has made me deeply question my conception of womanhood in the past year. This, in conjunction with having studied photography and art history, to have a look at many depictions of women and being less naïve, to have watched The Handmaid’s Tale, watched last year news and readings, seeing things in a new light, with a more critical gaze and understanding.
I picked this book, or it picked me – I will never know, but I am glad it did because it fuels my reflection toward my own womanhood and the politics of gaze, depictions and stereotypes that I have endured. McCormack, through the book, managed to share her research and academic knowledge and break it down into fragments that are compelling, succinct, filled with information but not in a didactic way. Through 4 archetypes: Venus, Mothers, Maidens and Dead Damsels and Monstrous Women, we, as readers, are asked to look again, to question what our eyes are seeing and the narrative that is told in the art, and most importantly, how women artists, through centuries have challenges those same stereotypes; from Berthe Morisot to Beyoncé!
McCormack does remarkable work at sharing her own experience, being relatable, as a woman, mother, and author with a profound wealth of theoretical knowledge without never leaving you dry, left behind or puzzled. I can say that she succeeds in the challenge she set for herself while writing this book; understanding her privilege access, the time she had to commit to her research, her access and wrote a book that can influence the narrative and contribute to the collective reflection that needs to happen, because if not today, then when? I strongly recommend this book to any museums goer or art lover who lives in a world in which we are continually bombarded with images. We also rarely take a step back and reconsider. We don’t question enough and don’t get me wrong, I am as guilty as everybody else. This book compelled me to stop, look and grasp the power I have to change the stories I told (or not) myself when I pass by a Picasso, a Gaugin, an Helmut Newton or simply an “old” naked women statue or any other depiction of a woman in a picture.
A bit about the author
Catherine is an art historian, author and independent curator based in London. She is a consultant lecturer and course director at Sotheby’s Institute of Art and has a PhD in Art History from University College London. Her writing has been published in The New European, art-agenda, Harper’s Bazaar UK, The Independent, The Architectural Review, Women’s Art Journal and in numerous international academic journals and museum exhibition catalogues.