Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



Society for the History of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era


The author, Kirsten Swinth, examines this important and complex problem from a variety of perspectives. The book relates two intertwined, mutually illuminating narratives: one, that of the explosion of women artists into the mainstream after the Civil War, and two, the radically changed politics of art and culture under early twentieth-century modernism. Telling these two stories side by side reveals in part the gendered roots of modernism and sheds light on the impact of gender politics--in part a result of such large numbers of women artists--on major art-world systems of access and reward, such as academy exhibitions, gallery practices (many still with us today), and art criticism. Swinth argues that the backlash against womenŝÒ gains in the profession helped shape a new rhetoric of artistic masculinity in the 1890s. Accompanying this were changes in the institutional support structures for art, enabling a renewal of exclusionary practices that marginalized women in the power circuits, which centered on the art gallery rather than large, institutionally-sponsored exhibitions.


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