In 1989 large placards appeared in the streets of New York, depicting Ingres's nude odalisque wearing a furious gorilla's mask. The mask was the signature of the Guerrilla Girls, a group of anonymous artists, and the placards offered the following thoughts to passers-by: "Do women have to be naked to get into the Met Museum? Less than 5% of the artists in the Modern Art sections are women, but 85% of the nudes are female". The Guerrilla Girls' activities, repeated at the 2005 Venice Biennale, represent the mass media dimension of a lengthy struggle and chain of accusations levelled at the silence and invisibility of women in art. A female art historian likened the scarcity of great women artists to the analogous shortage of great Lithuanian jazz pianists or great Eskimo tennis players. Forsaking controversy, it is a question of determining whether and to what degree gender asymmetry contributes to defining what art is and what it isn't, who deserves to be remembered and who doesn't. The author uses wide-ranging and previously underexploited material in this ground-breaking book, in order to shatter the myth of the allegedly inferior and subordinate nature of female creativity.
Maria Antonietta Trasforini teaches Cultural Sociology at the University of Ferrara.
Spanish rights sold.