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Women in Abstraction

Christine Macel, Karolina Lewandowska


An exploration of the fundamental role played by women in the development of abstract art

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With a few notable exceptions, the fundamental role that women played in the development of abstract art has long been underestimated, and their work has not received the same critical attention as that of their male counterparts. Now, at last, the tide is turning. The latest historiographical advances illustrated by numerous recent publications, monographs and thematic exhibitions make it possible to reassess the importance of the contribution of women artists to the different currents of abstraction, while at the same time questioning the patterns of the past.

Edited by Christine Macel, this catalogue and the exhibition it accompanies highlights the contributions of a hundred or so women artists to abstraction up to the 1980s, with a few unprecedented forays into the 19th century. By focusing on the careers of artists so often unjustly eclipsed, the book questions the established canons and offers an alternative history of abstraction, from the symbolist abstraction of Hilma Af Klint, to the sensual abstraction of Huguette Caland, to the purist non-objective approach of Verena Von Loewensberg. Essays by noted scholars explore the techniques, concerns and legacies of these women, shedding light on their unique experiences and offering keen new reflections on their work and the movement as a whole.


'As a survey and history of abstract art the book stands as something as complete as you could wish ... One has to be wary of describing books as ground-breaking, because the truth is they are usually built on work that has gone before and ride a rising tide. This is, however, a major contribution to art history in general and a neglected corner (if that’s the right word) in particular'
Art Book Review

'An alternative history of Abstract art'
Arts Society Review

Product Information

Book Details

Format: PLC (no jacket)

Size: 30.0 x 22.5 cm

Extent: 344 pp

Publication date: 22 July 2021

ISBN: 9780500094372

Contents List

Foreword by Serges Lasvignes
Preface by Bernard Blistene

She Makes Abstraction, Christine Macel
Abstraction? Co-Creation?, Griselda Pollock
Women Artists and Abstract Photography, Karolina Ziebinska-Lewandowska
Stand Up Against, Right Up Against, Anne Montfort-Tanguy
Where Was Sisterhood?, Abigail Solomon-Godeau

1. Art, Spiritualism and Theosophy
2. The Pioneers of Abstraction in Dance
3. Women in Vorticism
4. Women in the Russian Avant-Garde
5. Women at the Bauhaus
6. Microphotography, Pattern, Decoration, Abstraction
7. From Cercle et Carre to Abstraction-Creation
8. Creative Photography at the Texas Woman’s University
9. The Enduring Legacies of Hilla Rebay and Peggy Guggenheim
10. Finished Pictures, Polish, Candy: Women Artists of the New York School
11. Fibre Art, Soft Art
12. Eccentric Abstraction
13. Whose Voice? Women Film-Makers and Cinema History in the 1970s
14. Beyond Boundaries: Black Art in America, 1960-1980
15. The Abstract Concept of ‘Woman’: Griselda Pollock, Lucy R. Lippard, Linda Nochlin

About the Author

Christine Macel is a French curator. She was the director of the 2017 Venice Biennale,
and is chief curator at the Centre Pompidou, Paris.