Another History of Art

Anita Kunz. Fantagraphics, $24.99 (136p) ISBN 978-1-68396-446-9
In an act of trickster feminism, Kunz re-envisions famous Western paintings by swapping in monkeys and cartoon characters where viewers are accustomed to seeing people, angels, monsters, and Jesus. The captions are more subdued, simply feminizing artists’ names while offering mostly historically accurate accounts of their lives and work. The effect of the textual re-gendering can feel a bit one-note, but the paintings are playful and irreverent. In “Vincenza Van Gogh’s” “Self Portrait as Goofy,” a flapping dog’s ear hangs from the artist’s bandaged head. Kunz’s human subjects are often tattooed and goggle-eyed (though remain mostly white skinned). “Edwina Degas’ ” “Little Dancer of Fourteen Tears” leans on crutches, and “Seated Girl with Scar” by “Augusta Renoir” has a mastectomy scar, providing a counterpoint to Renoir’s statement that “For me, a picture must be a pleasant thing, joyous and pretty.” Kunz’s women are not universally joyous and pretty; in their biographies, they get to live the full, often tragic, lives that male artists went down for in history. The collection reads like an exhibition catalog, best consumed by dipping in and out and circling back, taking away something new each time. (June)
Reviewed on : 06/10/2021
Release date: 06/22/2021
Genre: Comics
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