Seaman’s list of artists is sure to introduce most readers to figures they don’t know ... What makes Seaman such an enchanting biographer is her willingness to embrace uncertainty, often stopping mid-narrative to pose questions regarding an artist’s possible intentions ... in this captivating book, she has resuscitated their complex and accomplished lives.
Seaman’s lively portraits make the reader eager to rediscover them, a process helped along by the book’s photos of them and their art. Seaman’s zesty writing brings to life her passion for these subjects ... The descriptions of the artists’ lives, their fascinating quirks, and most of all their artworks, are unfailingly fun to read.
...Of the seven women profiled in Seaman’s book — Louise Nevelson, Gertrude Abercrombie, Loïs Mailou Jones, Ree Morton, Joan Brown, Christina Ramberg and Lenore Tawney — several are well known in the art world. Which makes you wonder if Seaman, a Chicago-based editor at Booklist who has written more on literature than the visual arts, is the right person for the job ... Seaman uses seven artists, deeply committed to their work, to spin out a tale of creativity and romantic neglect that doesn’t particularly serve art — or the artists. It makes for nice subway reading. But I feel as if the artists in this book deserve something more — and that they, even more than I, might frown upon Seaman’s well-meaning endeavor.
...sloppy writing and a lack of focus undermine this slice of art history ... undermined by overwrought writing and disjointed stories. Seaman also has a habit of including random facts without further explanation of their significance ... Occasionally photographs will show one of the artists with their work in the background, but there aren’t many images of the actual work. Instead, readers must often rely on written descriptions, which makes Seaman’s book even harder to penetrate.
...a fine retrospective on the history of women in the male-dominated world of 20th-century art ... Seaman exuberantly portrays each highly accomplished woman as the inspirational force she was, and she does a service by bringing them back into contemporary discourse. Unfortunately, the author too often lets her excitement carry her away, running lists of adjectives and too many descriptions on top of one another. This results in clumsily executed passages ... Seaman’s frequent thesaurus-leaning renders her portraits overpainted, but despite its awkward turns, this is a decidedly important and long-overdue showcase.