The Guerrilla Girls' Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art

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The Guerrilla Girls' Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art [Paperback]

Guerrilla Girls
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 1, 1998
We were Guerillas before we were Gorillas. From the beginning, the press wanted publicity photos. We needed a disguise. No one remembers, for sure, how we got our fur, but one story is that at an early meeting, an original Girl, a bad speller, wrote 'Gorilla' instead of'Guerilla.' It was an enlightening mistake. It gave us our mask-ulinity. Ever wonder about the abundance of naked male statues in the Classical section of your favorite museum? Did you know medieval convents were hotbeds of female artistic expression? And how did those "bad boy" artists of the twentieth century make it even harder for a girl to get a break? Thanks to the Guerrilla Girls, those masked feminists whose mission it is to break the white male stronghold over the art world, art history-as we know it-is history. Taking you back through the ages, the Guerrilla Girls demonstrate how males (particularly white males) have dominated the art scene, and discouraged, belittled, or obscured women's involvement. Their skeptical and hilarious interpretations of "popular" theory are augmented by the newest research and the expertise of prominent feminist art historians. "Believe-it-or-not" quotations from some of the "experts" are sprinkled throughout, as are the Guerrilla Girls' signature masterpieces: reproductions of famous art works, slightly "altered" for historic accuracy and vindication. This colorful reinterpretation of classic and modern art, as outrageous as it is visually arresting, is a much-needed corrective to traditional art history, and an unabashed celebration of female artists.

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

YA-The Guerrilla Girls are a group of anonymous artists and art professionals whose mission is to expose racism, sexism, and homophobia in the art world. The introduction presents an overview and critique of traditional art history, and following chapters highlight various time periods and the female artists who were at work during those eras. From classical Greece to the present, the group introduces many "mistresspieces" that have been overlooked by traditional male critics. This irreverent and sometimes angry review of art history makes use of humor and satire to illuminate the issues and to exact a small revenge on a field that has dismissed many gifted individuals on the basis of gender and/or ethnicity. A chronology of general women's history entitled, "Guerrillas in the Midst of History" opens the book. Lively text and a creative adaptation and interpretation of famous works will hold the interest of teens while introducing them to a revisionist and more inclusive history of art in the Western world.
Debra Shumate, Bull Run Regional Library, Manassas, VA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

The Guerrilla Girls are a collective of female artists and art-world professionals. Their largest contingent is in New York City, but they have been sighted all over the United States, Europe, and wherever truth, justice, and the American way of discrimination still prevail.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; First Edition edition (February 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014025997X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140259971
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.3 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
The Guerrilla Girls' Bedside companion to the History of Western Art succeeds on several levels. First of all, it works on a visual level, with graphics that draw you in immediately. But after you are drawn in, one is equally impressed by the text, which is simultaneously informative and humorous. Between the David Letterman-like top 10 lists, the cartoons, and the collages, one is constantly entertained while simultaneously becoming outraged by outdated, demeaning quotes about women from well-known men. At the same time, one learns a lot about some female artists that have been ignored during our art history studies, and one sees a different perspective on some more famous female artists that were mentioned but treated with less admiration than they probably deserved.
All in all, this book succeeds as an extension of the Guerrilla Girls performance art, reaching out to those of us who couldn't go to a New York opening and see it crashed by these women in Gorilla masks. Hopefully soon, partially thanks to books like this, more people will wonder why most of the nudes in museums are women, while so few of the artists represented in these museums are of that same gender.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Far too short!! April 1, 2003
By Crystal
This book takes you, with biting wit and humor, beyond the works of "accepted" masters (all of whom I deeply admire, by the way), showing you that for every renaissance man, there was an Artemisia Gentileschi. That among the plethora of still lifes from the 17th and 18th centuries, you that you would do well to study those of Rachel Rueysch, who captures every petal and leaf with intoxicating detail and color. They were able, even with my deep-seated resistance to "modern art", to instill in me a deep appreciation for works of impressionists, modernists, post-modernists and abstract artists.
In short, an ideal starting point for those looking to delve into art history, yet still ideal for those academics with short attentions spans. I only wish it were longer!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An absolute fun read for lovers of art history! April 26, 2005
An absolute fun read for lovers of art history! This book gives a brief history of women in art, challenges they faced (and still face today), and the roles of women from classical times through the present time.

Just who are the Guerrilla Girls'? They are a group of artists and arts professionals, who in the 1980's, decided to fight discrimination in the art world and become the self-proclaimed "conscience of the art world."

"We wore gorilla masks to keep the focus on the issues rather than our personalities."

The Guerrilla Girls' begin with the images of women from the Classical Era, where reliefs of Amazons decorated buildings, but an ancient Greek or Roman "women could not vote or engage in transactions worth more than a grain of barley."

Travel through the Middle Ages where Hildegard von Bingen decorated beautiful texts and Christine de Pizan made her living as a writer (the first woman known to have done so!)

The journey continues through the Renaissance with Lavinia Fontana, Sonfonisba Anguissola, and Artemisia Gentileschi, through the 17th and 18th centuries with Judith Leyster and Angelica Kauffman; all on the way to the 20th century and Frida Kahlo, Lee Krasner, and Eva Hesse.

What makes this book so much more interesting than the other books coming out on women artists, is the humor the Guerrilla Girls' use to get the point across and the graphic nature of the book itself. Each page is filled with examples of artwork and fun graphics.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars They make art history interesting! June 27, 2002
By mp541
I saw the Guerilla Girls two years ago at Barnes and Noble in New York's Greenwich Village. They were book signing 'Beside Companinon to the History of Western Art' and I must say I was impressed by their knowledge and intellect. They also made me laugh, which is refreshing, because art history is taking TOO seriously by the academy.
Anyone who loves art but could care less about the history should pick up this book. It does not bore you to tears with academic jargon, it is filled with illustrations and spunky commentary on a very large subject: Western art. The Guerilla Girls are smart enough to stay with certain topics and themes. Western art is too huge to cover it in one sitting, the girls go right to the good stuff. Well done.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a wonderful resource! August 10, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was at my university bookstore picking up my two art history courses' textbooks and I saw this book and my heart jumped! A year ago in my first 2-d design course my professor had told us all about the Guerilla Girls and I had just finished taking a sociology course that made me feel more inclined to female equality. Between my Sociology Now! textbook and reading this Guerilla Girls book, I feel more strongly and proud about my gender more than anything else and have analyzed so many situations in correlation to the subject.

This book is a terrific resource for learning more about women's place in art throughout centuries. I was a bit disappointed that it didn't do more about statistics or criticism about how we are still underplayed in society, such as the famous 'MoMA Has 5%...' ad that I've seen just about everywhere. What about how we were perceived a hundred years ago? They speak about women's rights, what they can and could not do, comparatively to men and, though interesting, it's still not what I expected.

Thus, this book is terrific as a reference or introduction to the history of female artists, one that you should have in your collection just because we are often (still) overlooked in the art world.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great primer on the state of women in the arts
Love this book. It is a great primer on women in the arts from the point of view of the ever fabulous Guerrilla Girls. Read more
Published 7 days ago by kbanshee
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very cool, love it
Published 3 months ago by rosarybede
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
Love it!
Published 4 months ago by Alexandra Gutierrez
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent condition
Published 4 months ago by Connie Cornejo
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and Amazing
The Guerilla Girls simply have no equal; the book is genuinely fascinating, and also full of annoying tidbits of how the art world has worked against women artists throughout the... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Susan
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect addition to the herstory of art
A delightful expose on women artists gives just enough information for researchers to build on. I use this book for my Women Artist class and add to the Guerilla Girls information... Read more
Published 16 months ago by VIRGINIA DACOSTA
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
Very interesting book on women art throughout history with humor, of course. Came in great conditions no writing highlighting or dents. Awesome.
Published 16 months ago by Elizabeth
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable!
Got it as a required text for my History of Women in the Arts class. It's an enjoyable read, and can be tackled in a couple of hours. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Zann Cannon Goff
4.0 out of 5 stars women in art
women have been left out of, and shortchanged, in the art world. This is a book with interesting information about female artists that you may not have come across before. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Eileen P. Kopelman
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but outdated
I love the breezy tone of this book and the few artists they picked to talk about are good. However, they stop after Eva Hesse and Ana Mendieta, and only include those two because... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Julia L Moore
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