Sunday, October 9, 2011

Women Artists in Interwar France...Dr. Paula J Birnbaum's hardback on FAM artists a revelation!

At a lecture at the de Yeung Museum the other evening, Dr. Paula J. Birnbaum unveiled her just-published book:

"Women Artists in Interwar France"

The hardback book - featuring 58 color plates and 48 Black & White prints - sheds an insightful spotlight on a school of female artists who were prevalent on the scene in France in the heady 1930's.

The illustrious (but mostly forgotten) visionaries were known as the:

"Societe des Femmes Artists Moderne"

During her exhausting research, Dr. Birnbaum turned up fascinating background material on three of the group's most famous members - SuzanneValadon, Marie Laurencin, and Tamara de Lempicka - and in the process determined that FAM artists were primarily responsible for ushering in prominent themes of female embodiment, the self-portrait, motherhood and the female nude.

In a fascinating twist, Birnbaum (University of San Francisco) was able to theorize how FAM painters came to be excluded from historical reference (in respect to modern art in particular) despite the fact the group was highly-acclaimed by critics during the era.

"If an artist didn't fall exactly into an "ism" - such as cubism, surrealism, or impressionsim - their work was usually passed over and rarely included in museum collections," she noted in so many words.

Dr. Birnbaum - a charismatic articulate young woman with a gift for research - managed to drum up reviews of the artist's works from dusty periodicals, fill in the gaps with one-on-one interviews with a handful of relatives in the FAM group - and ultimately - establish the relevance of their contributions in the Interwar Years in France.


Women Artists in Interwar France
"Framing Femininities"
358 Pages
Ashgate Publishing
Hardback (978-0-7546-6978-4)

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