In the Spring/Summer 2010 issue of Woman’s Art Journal, the editors write:
Even with the rising presence of art by women in museums and on bookstore shelves, Woman’s Art Journal continues to find a receptive audience for its mission: recognition of women artists of the past and present. From the overwhelming number of books and submissions we receive, it’s clear that interest in research in our field is also on the rise … [T]he number of unsolicited manuscripts we’ve received in the last year has more than tripled.
Pioneering feminist Mary D. Garrard (who was celebrated alongside Norma Broude at the First Annual Feminist Art History Conference at American University) has a hefty new book out, Brunelleschi’s Egg, which examines how the Renaissance “shift in the concept of nature–from an organic worldview to the scientific–was assisted by the gender metaphor that defined nature as female … [and] was both anticipated and mediated by the visual arts.” Garrard separates artists into two camps – those who “claimed to rival and defeat female nature” and for whom “art and nature are more often seen as collaborative partners.”
The book’s title refers to a story Vasari told about Brunelleschi balancing an egg on its narrow end, as well as the venerable but seldom believed notion that Brunelleschi might have borrowed the shape of his Florentine dome from an egg:
Brunelleschi makes the egg perform for him, putting it to larger use by imitating Nature’s mysterious designs on a grand scale. The concealment of his sources, both in the apparently cryptic egg demonstration and in the hiding of the dome’s true structure behind ribs that tectonized its breast- or egglike form, may bespeak an unacknowledged competition, between the creative powers of Nature and those of the artist. At this stage, art’s special powers are not articulated directly, and Nature is still credited as their source – as we saw in Alberti’s recommendation that architects follow “Nature’s ingenuity” and her biological order in their vault designs.