Improved Janson: A Woman on Every Page #2
Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art
On View: Lobby annex, 1st floor
For generations of students, Horst Waldemar Janson’s History of Art was the singular volume for the subject. For decades after its initial publication in 1962, virtually every art history course in the United States used this textbook to define the scholarly parameters of the field—from ancient practices to the early modern period. Written from a Western and colonialist perspective, the first edition contained no mention of any women artists; in a minor concession, Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party was added to the 1986 edition. While little used today, for the artists of feminism’s second wave, “Janson” (as it was known) became a much-maligned example of the limited vision of the generations of male art historians who long ruled the field.
For her Improved Janson, Kaleta Doolin transforms this outdated and exclusionary tome into a sculpture celebrating the female form in a particularly radical way—and certainly not as a historically tasteful nude by Janson’s definition. Instead of presenting women via the typical male gaze, Doolin instead boldly carves a vulvar form through the entire volume.
Paper, ink, textile
11 3/4 × 9 1/4 × 2 in. (29.8 × 23.5 × 5.1 cm)
Emily Winthrop Miles Fund
2018, purchased from the artist by the Brooklyn Museum.
Kaleta Doolin. Improved Janson: A Woman on Every Page #2. Paper, ink, textile, 11 3/4 × 9 1/4 × 2 in. (29.8 × 23.5 × 5.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Emily Winthrop Miles Fund, 2018.38. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2018.38_p520-521_PS20.jpg)
page, 2018.38_p520-521_PS20.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2023
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© Kaleta Doolin
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