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In an art world where the narrative has long been dominated by male artists, Katy Hessel’s The Story of Art Without Men challenges and redefines the traditional boundaries of art history. Already making waves in the United Kingdom as the 2022 Waterstones Book of the Year and an instant Sunday Times bestseller, this groundbreaking book is poised for its much-anticipated release in the United States. Hessel, a renowned art historian and curator, brings to the fore the overlooked contributions of women and gender nonconforming artists, spanning six centuries in a vivid and meticulously researched narrative.

Hessel’s The Story of Art Without Men offers a compelling reconstruction of the art historical narrative, organized into five distinct parts. Each section explores pivotal periods and movements, from the Renaissance to the digital age. The book underscores the historical overshadowing of artists such as Renaissance pioneer Plautilla Nelli, Neoclassical artist Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun, and modern figures like Lee Krasner and Marina Abramović. Hessel’s work is not merely about revisiting history; it represents a fresh and inclusive perspective, long overdue in the art world.

The international acclaim for Hessel’s book marks a significant shift in the approach to art history. The work is poised to impact curatorial practices, art education, and the broader appreciation of art globally. Hessel challenges museums, galleries, and academic institutions to reconsider their collections and educational programs, advocating for a more inclusive representation of artists traditionally marginalized in the art historical canon.

Critics and historians have widely acclaimed the book. The Financial Times described it as “unapologetically revisionist,” and Laura Freeman of The Times (UK) called it “a spirited, inspiring, brilliantly illustrated history.” This reception highlights the book’s potential to inspire a new generation of art historians and artists, fostering a more inclusive and diverse understanding of art history.

In The Story of Art Without Men, Hessel not only narrates the past; she envisions a new future for art history. The book serves as a call to redefine the art historical canon, urging acknowledgment and celebration of the contributions of those historically sidelined. As it debuts in American markets, Hessel’s work transcends being merely a publication; it represents a movement with the promise to reshape the understanding and appreciation of art for future generations.


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