by Lauren Elkin
Farrar Straus and Giroux
What kind of art does a monster make? And what if monster is a verb? Noun or a verb, the idea is a dare: to overwhelm limits, to invent our own definitions of beauty.
In this dazzlingly original reassessment of women's stories, bodies, and art, Lauren Elkin--the celebrated author of Flâneuse--explores the ways in which feminist artists have taken up the challenge of their work and how they not only react against the patriarchy but redefine their own aesthetic aims. How do we tell the truth about our experiences as bodies? What is the language, what are the materials, that we need to transcribe them? And what are the unique questions facing those engaged with female bodies, queer bodies, sick bodies, racialized bodies?
Encompassing with a rich genealogy of work across the literary and artistic landscape, Elkin makes daring links between disparate points of reference-- among them Julia Margaret Cameron's photography, Kara Walker's silhouettes, Vanessa Bell's portraits, Eva Hesse's rope sculptures, Carolee Schneemann's body art, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's trilingual masterpiece DICTEE--and steps into the tradition of cultural criticism established by Susan Sontag, Hélène Cixous, and Maggie Nelson.
An erudite, potent examination of beauty and excess, sentiment and touch, the personal and the political, the ambiguous and the opaque, Art Monsters is a radical intervention that forces us to consider how the idea of the art monster might transform the way we imagine--and enact--our lives.
"Expertly blending astute critical analysis with intellectual curiosity, Elkin resists easy answers about questions of femininity, physicality, and art, leading the text into rich and unexpected directions. Even those well acquainted with feminist art will be enlightened." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Lauren Elkin has the nerve to defend the guilty, fight tooth and claw for long abandoned causes while making heroines out of trouble makers. Her book makes you take sides, change sides, change back and sometimes shout out loud with furious indignation, but you won't find anything like this history, told in this way, anywhere else." -- Lubaina Himid, Turner Prize-winning artist
About the Author:
Lauren Elkin's essays have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, Frieze, and The Times Literary Supplement. Her book Flâneuse was named a notable book of 2017 by The New York Times Book Review and was a finalist for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. A native New Yorker, she lived in Paris for twenty years and now resides in London.