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Writers and Artists in Dialogue

Historical Fiction about Women Painters


Cortney Cronberg Barko

This unique work of scholarship explores contemporary issues of male spectatorship and the importance of biography for art criticism in the work of Tracy Chevalier, Eunice Lipton, Anna Banti, Kate Braverman, and Susan Vreeland. Drawing upon feminist concepts on the male and female gaze, Dr. Cortney Cronberg Barko perceptively examines how these authors challenge androcentric models of reading by demonstrating women’s powers as readers and writers. This intriguing study reveals that authors working within the genre of fictionalized biographies of women painters reconstruct art history to create a new canon for women artists and invent a rhetoric about art that empowers women. This book is ideal for art history courses and a wide range of literature courses, including fiction, literary theory, literary criticism, feminist literary theory, and women's literature.
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Chapter 6. Conclusion


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· 6 ·


The quotation from Roberta White’s A Studio of One’s Own that begins this project is worthy of further consideration at its conclusion: “The dialogue of the woman artist with her society; the writer’s dialogue with the painter…and, more broadly fiction’s dialogue with painting are unfinished stories no matter what sort of closure the novelist may attempt to put upon them” (31). Dialogues do take place between women artists and society and between writers and painters. This discussion explores the significance of such dialogues. For instance, Anna Banti’s Artemisia poignantly illustrates the nature of the dialogue between writer and artist, as Banti creates a narrator who engages in dialogue with the character of Artemisia Gentileschi about how to write Gentileschi’s life story. Similar dialogues taking place between writers and artists in historical fiction about women painters show the extent to which women communicate with one another through writing and art.

The communication or dialogue that takes place between women writers and painters in this study is also important because it contributes to the development of feminist art criticism. Authors of historical fiction about female painters form relationships with their artist subjects which allow them to interpret women’s art in new ways. Just as many feminist art critics contend that women artists’ biographies must be attended to in order to understand ← 115 | 116 → artists’ careers and work, the authors in this study form interpretations of women’s art based on...

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