This text presents an account of Stettheimer's life and art, showing that her paintings provide a social commentary on American culture of her period. It examines her youth, her life abroad, and her friendship with such influential figures as Marcel Duchamp, Charles Demuth and Alfred Stieglitz.
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Fortunately, these excellent volumes appear within a short time of each other, coinciding with a major retrospective of Stettheimer's (1871-1944) work at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. They make widely available the comprehensive monographic and analytical treatment necessary to understand this little known but major visionary painter. Bloemink's study originates from doctoral research. Academically thoroughgoing, it is, nonetheless, especially well-written. Bloemink clearly displays her admiration and insight, defining the paintings as narrative, psuedo- or neoprimitive, jazzy but sophisticated, and childlike. There is commentary on saturated colors, diaphanous "cellophane" effects-imitating Florine's bedroom and studio decor-gilded and raised painted objects, etc. Duchamp's term multiplication virtuelle and Carl Van Vechten's importance to the artist are discussed. Paragraphs of less critical exegesis are found in lengthy end notes. It suffers a little from a lack of a bibliography, and, though the colorplates are abundant, much of the witty detail is lost due to the large scale of the paintings. The Whitney catalog is also fascinating, but with smaller reproductions. Sussman posits the impact of gender issues, asserting that Stettheimer's "artificiality, stylization, eccentric elegance, and sexual ambiguities" offered "an American female version of camp and dandyism that appealed to many gay admirers." Bloemink writes here on the artist's sense of temporality, indeterminate space, and adds that "the voyage of life and love is made up of isolated episodes, arranged in our memory like miniature versions of a Mozart or Rossini opera." The book concludes with Nochlin's 1980 seminal essay "Florine Stettheimer: Rococo Subversive." Highest recommendation for both volumes.
Mary Hamel-Schwulst, Towson State Univ., Md.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Yale University Press, 1995. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110300063407