Heather Elder Represents
Reps Journal

'The Story of Art Without Men' Book Discussion

As a rep, I am always on the lookout for fresh and inspiring perspectives on the art world. Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a talk at The Guggenheim with Katy Hessel, author of the bestselling book "The Story Of Art Without Men". The book, which has been receiving rave reviews and is currently #8 on the New York Times Best Seller list, is modeled after the classic art history book "The Story of Art", which has been in print for over 70 years.

What sets Hessel's book apart is that it features only women artists. It's a powerful statement about the erasure of women's contributions in the art world and a much-needed corrective to the male-dominated canon of art history. As Hessel pointed out during her talk, in all 16 editions of "The Story of Art", only one woman artist was included! A shocking statistic. 

Hessel's book is a step towards rectifying this imbalance, and it's a must-read for anyone interested in learning about the work of women artists. During her talk, Hessel shared some eye-opening statistics - for example, only 1% of the art in major museums is created by women. This is a stark reminder of how much work needs to be done to address the gender gap in the art world.

One of the most interesting points that Hessel made during her talk was about the way that art is taught and learned. For generations, art students and art historians have learned about art through the eyes of male teachers and artists. This has resulted in a narrow and incomplete view of the art world, one that has excluded women and other marginalized groups. By centering the work of women artists in her book, Hessel is expanding our understanding of what art can be and who can make it.

In addition to her book, Hessel also hosts a podcast and a popular Instagram account called @thegreatwomenartists. These platforms showcase the work of women artists and provide a space for discussion and celebration of their contributions to the art world. In addition, here is a line to a New York Times article about Hessel as well as a link to her podcast. I highly recommend checking them out and following along.

2023 exhibitions featuring women artists:

Gio Swaby, Textiles - the Art Institute of Chicago April 8, 2023 - July 3, 2023

An-My Lê, Photographer - Museum of Modern Art in New York City November 5, 2023 - March 9, 2024

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith - The Whitney Museum April 19th, 2023 - August 2023

'Women Defining Women' at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art April 23, 2023 - September 2023

Alma Thomas - 'Composing Color' at the Smithsonian American Art Museum September 15, 2023 - June 2 2024