A Woman to Know: Romaine Brooks
|Julia Carpenter||Sep 12, 2016|
I grasped every occasion no matter how small, to assert my independence of views. — Romaine
(image via Archives of American Art)
Romaine Brooks painted portraits in gray. But not just any portraits -- throughout the 1920s in Paris, France, Romaine painted women, mostly scandalously adrogynous depictions. She painted women in tuxedos, women in suits, unknown women reclining nude on couches or high-society dressed in top hats and ties.
But Romaine had a hard time selling her work. People were shocked by her somber style and queer subjects. One portrait sitter complained, "You haven't beautified me." Romaine replied, "I have ennobled you." She ignored the fashionable painting trends of the time, shunned inclusion in the artistic circles and retreated into a hermit's life, experimenting with odd drawings, producing few works and living off a family inheritance.
She died in 1970, just as an international renaissance in gender scholarship was leading many women to rediscover her work. Today, her paintings are collected and praised as a "who's who" of LGBTQ women of the era.
Add to your library list:
Between Me and Life: A Biography of Romaine Brooks (Meryle Secrest)
Romaine Brooks: A Life (Cassandra Langer)
Amazons in the Drawing Room: The Art of Romaine Brooks (Whitney Chadwick)
The world is finally ready to understand Romaine Brooks (The Smithsonian)
Romaine Brooks: Amazons and Artists (San Francisco Chronicle)
Romaine Brooks painted her circle of friends, but were they portraits? (The Washington Post)
The Romaine Brooks Papers (Archives of American Art)
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