Meet Cindy Nemser - art critic, theatre critic, novelist, humorist, journalist, and ardent feminist.

About Me



Friday, June 26, 2009

11:28 AM Posted by Cindy Nemser 1 comment
June 2009

Hi Everyone,

I’m sorry I haven’t been able to post much on my blog during the last year as my health has held me down. But now, despite continuing problems, I am coming back, and in between those fun-filled doctor’s seniors like myself (according to right wing politicians) love to make, I will try to post as often as I can.

I want to make Cindy Nemser’s Forum a place where you can all post if you have responses to what I have written. You can also link from there to my Front Row Center blog, which deals with theater reviews and issues when the times require them and the Art Talk blog on which you might want to send your reactions to the book.

In 2007, when the blog began, there was a reactivated interest in women’s art that created a little rivulet that promised to transform into a much larger, stronger body of moving water. Here in New York that rivulet is still small, but growing slowly, due to the entrance of a few women artists into prestigious galleries, museums and collections and the continued activities of the indefatigable A.I.R and its director Kat Griefen. An example of how sluggishly the streaming is flowing is the fact there that there is not even one important museum bookstore carrying Art Talk; Conversations with 15 Women Artists-- not even the Brooklyn Museum. The book has been translated into Spanish, German, French, Dutch, and Chinese, but evidently the English version is not worthy of being offered by the New York City art museums. Perhaps it is still deemed as controversial now as it was in 1975 when it helped open people’s eyes as to how sexist and how corrupt the art world was and probably still is. Evidently the Brooklyn Museum images of women’s vaginas, on display in perpetuity, are not threatening enough, after years of Eve Enslor’s Vagina Monologs, to generate more than a yawn, while the exposes imbedded into the conversations of the women in Art Talk are still too shocking to be set before the American public’s eyes.

It was not surprising that on the day that I discovered there was no Art Talk in the bookstore was the day I attended a panel that purported to discuss how art became part of art history. I came expecting to hear a discussion of aesthetics with participation by critics, historians, curators, and perhaps a collector. To my surprise there were only people involved with money making. The art that would go down in history was the one that commanded the most in the market place. I had had a violent argument with my son-in-law who is in finances that there were no clued-in people who bought art because it meant something to them intellectually, or emotionally or spiritually. He, with no art background, scoffed and said it was only about money. I was furious and we decided not to speak about art again. Was he right? It seemed that in today’s world I had lost the argument. But I still don’t believe it.

In any case after going off on a tangent in my usual fashion, I am not all together pessimistic about a more sanguine future for women in the arts. There are more books about women artists coming down the pipeline including one about the great first generation abstract expressionist Lee Krasner, by art historian Gail Levin and another about Alice Neel. Finally the amazing Alice Neel is about to be given her due wit the help of some key art world players, the gallerists (fancy world for gallery owner which I suppose is too crass) David Zwirner being among them. Unfortunately, the owners of her works (her sons and their wives and children) have not been the least bit gracious in acknowledging the help of the women artists’ movement.. I was the fist writer to who the artist revealed her fascinating, if notorious life story. Ms. published my piece that included her personal material as well as my historical and critical assessment of her work. Unfortunately, the magazine changed my designation of Neel as the greatest portraitist of the twentieth century to only one of the greatest. Even Ms. was timid about giving women artists their due. In 2007, when I curated an exhibition, “Women’s Work: Homage to Women’s Art” at the Table Rasa Gallery in Sunset Park in Brooklyn, I asked Nancy Neel, who I thought was appreciative of my support of Alice, if the family would loan a drawing Alice had made of me (Alice never told me about the drawing or I would have bought it in a heart beat.) The family absolutely refused to be in my 2007 show saying that they did not want Alice in some little show in Brooklyn with a lot of feminists. The drawing was valued at $40,000. There were artists such as Eleanor Antin and Audrey Flack in the exhibition whose work was valued way above that figure and they were kind enough to let me have them. I felt very hurt by the Neel’s behavior and I imagine Alice wouldn’t have liked it either. She was always anxious for her work to be seen. She was neither a total materialist (though she like a good time) nor a snob. She was a fabulous creator or art, but she did not raise kind-hearted children. Given their history it is not surprising, but more about that in my book.

You can read my published conversation with Neel in Art Talk, which can be purchased on Amazon or Barnes & Nobel or in any bookstore as it is still in print. You may also be able to read my account of my hilarious experience about how Alice got my husband Chuck and myself to take off our clothes and be painted the nude in my still unpublished memoir of the 1970’s art world if I ever decide how to market the book.

I also could use some help from anyone who cares to give me some feedback as to how to begin the first chapter of the book. (Should I begin with Alice Neel painting my portrait and then go back and tell how I got to be in such a situation that I was willing to take off my clothes for art) Or maybe I should begin in the place where I became a feminist and then go back. The book is my personal remembrance of the 1970’s art world, mainly based in New York and mainly focused on my role as a feminist art critic. The parts about my presence at art world events are accurate as to time and place, as are my participation in art demonstrations and happenings. My writings about the art world, some of which are interpolated into the book, are also accurate. My take on those events are solely my own as are my memories of my early years.

I am also having trouble with a title. I have the sub-title that lets you know what the book is about. It is Tales of the 70’s New York Art World: Told by a Feminist Art Critic. But what I need is a truly eye and ear grabbing short title right about those sub-titles. All suggestions would be appreciated and if I use it, I’ll give the author a big thank you in my acknowledgements, but that’s all. Art books are not big money makers so if you want money don’t put in a suggestion. Sorry

1 comment:

  1. Hi Cindy,

    As a bookseller I find it shocking you couldn't find your important book in New York, I run an Art bookshop in Dublin, Ireland and we have it. What's their excuse?

    Is 'A Woman's Work is Never Done' too cheesy for the title of your new book? Good luck with it anyway.

    Best regards,

    Shane Hallahan