Who hasn't wondered where-aside from Georgia O'Keeffe and Frida Kahlo-all the women artists are? In many art books, they've been marginalized with cold efficiency, summarily dismissed in the captions of group photographs with the phrase "identity unknown" while each male is named.
Donna Seaman brings to dazzling life seven of these forgotten artists, among the best of their day: Gertrude Abercrombie, with her dark, surreal paintings and friendships with Dizzy Gillespie and Sonny Rollins; Bay Area self-portraitist Joan Brown; Ree Morton, with her witty, oddly beautiful constructions; Loïs Mailou Jones of the Harlem Renaissance; Lenore Tawney, who combined weaving and sculpture when art and craft were considered mutually exclusive; Christina Ramberg, whose unsettling works drew on pop culture and advertising; and Louise Nevelson, an art-world superstar in her heyday but omitted from recent surveys of her era.
These women fought to be treated the same as male artists, to be judged by their work, not their gender or appearance. In brilliant, compassionate prose, Seaman reveals what drove them, how they worked, and how they were perceived by others in a world where women were subjects-not makers-of art. Featuring stunning examples of the artists' work, Identity Unknown speaks to all women about their neglected place in history and the challenges they face to be taken as seriously as men no matter what their chosen field-and to all men interested in women's lives.
Donna Seaman is Editor, Adult Books, Booklist, a member of the advisory council for the American Writers Museum, and a recipient of the James Friend Memorial Award for Literary Criticism and the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award. She has reviewed for the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, among others. She has written biocritical essays for the Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature and American Writers. Her author interviews are collected in Writers on the Air: Conversations about Books. She lives in Chicago.