What We Are Reading Today: Artemisia Gentileschi and the Business of Art

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Updated 15 June 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: Artemisia Gentileschi and the Business of Art

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Author: Christopher R. Marshall

Art has long been viewed as a calling—a quasi-religious vocation that drives artists to seek answers to humanity’s deepest questions. Yet the art world is a risky, competitive business that requires artists to make strategic decisions, especially if the artist is a woman. In “Artemisia Gentileschi and the Business of Art,” Christopher Marshall presents a new account of the life, work, and legacy of the Italian Baroque painter, revealing how she built a successful four-decade career in a male-dominated field—and how her business acumen has even influenced the resurrection of her reputation today, when she has been transformed from a footnote of art history to a globally famous artist and feminist icon.

Combining the most recent research with detailed analyses of newly attributed paintings, the book highlights the business considerations behind Gentileschi’s development of a trademark style as she marketed herself to the public across a range of Italian artistic centers. The disguised self-portraits in her early Florentine paintings are reevaluated as an effort to make a celebrity brand of her own image. And, challenging the common perception that Gentileschi’s only masterpieces are her early Caravaggesque paintings, the book emphasizes the importance of her neglected late Neapolitan works, which are reinterpreted as innovative responses to the conventional practices of Baroque workshops.

 


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Raised to Obey’ by Augustina Paglayan

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Raised to Obey’ by Augustina Paglayan
Updated 18 July 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Raised to Obey’ by Augustina Paglayan

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Raised to Obey’ by Augustina Paglayan

Nearly every country today has universal primary education. But why did governments in the West decide to provide education to all children in the first place? The introduction of broadly accessible primary education was not mainly a response to industrialization, or fueled by democratic ideals, or even aimed at eradicating illiteracy or improving skills. It was motivated instead by elites’ fear of the masses—and the desire to turn the “savage,” “unruly,” and “morally flawed” children of the lower classes into well-behaved future citizens who would obey the state and its laws.


What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Dove’s Necklace’

What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Dove’s Necklace’
Updated 17 July 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Dove’s Necklace’

What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Dove’s Necklace’

“The Dove's Necklace,” which is written by Saudi novelist Raja Alem and translated by Katharine Halls and Adam Talib, is a captivating and multilayered novel that transports readers to the vibrant city of Makkah.

Alem masterfully weaves together the stories of several intersecting characters, creating a rich tapestry that explores themes of identity, spirituality, and the complexities of human relationships. 

At the heart of the narrative is Jumana, a young woman whose life is irrevocably altered by the discovery of an ancient necklace. It becomes the catalyst for Jumana’s journey of self-discovery as she navigates the intense social and religious expectations of her community. 

Alem explores her characters’ inner lives in her lyrical and incredibly sensitive language. A significant layer of cultural and historical depth is added to the story by the author’s examination of Makkah as a separate character, as well as Jumana’s poignant struggle to balance her personal aspirations with the demands of her faith.

What struck me most about this novel was the author’s ability to weave together the diverse tapestry of Makkah’s inhabitants. As I followed the intersecting narratives of characters like the enigmatic Basima, the troubled artist Khalid, and the enigmatic Grandfather, I was repeatedly challenged to examine my own preconceptions and biases.

Alem’s nuanced portrayal of this community, with all its complexities and contradictions, felt like a revelation. 

“The Dove’s Necklace” is not merely a work of fiction but a bold exploration of the complexities of faith, tradition, and the search for meaning in a rapidly changing world. Alem’s skillful use of symbolism and metaphor, particularly in her treatment of the necklace itself, adds a layer of depth and complexity to the narrative. 

Despite the novel’s weighty themes, Alem’s storytelling is never heavy-handed or didactic. She allows the reader to engage with the characters and their experiences on a deeply personal level, inviting them to consider the universal questions of identity, belonging, and the quest for spiritual fulfillment. 

A fantastic piece of literature that cuts beyond genre and cultural borders, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in exploring the diverse canon of Middle Eastern literature.


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Financial Economics of Insurance’

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Financial Economics of Insurance’
Updated 17 July 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Financial Economics of Insurance’

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Financial Economics of Insurance’

Authors: Ralph S.J. Koijen and Motohiro Yogo

“Financial Economics of Insurance” provides a unified framework to study the impact of financial and regulatory frictions as well as imperfect competition on all insurer decisions.

The book covers all facets of the modern insurance sector, guiding readers through its complexities with empirical facts, institutional details, and quantitative modeling.


What We Are Reading Today: The Tech Coup

What We Are Reading Today: The Tech Coup
Updated 16 July 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: The Tech Coup

What We Are Reading Today: The Tech Coup

Author: Marietje Schaake

Over the past decades, under the cover of “innovation,” technology companies have successfully resisted regulation and have even begun to seize power from governments themselves. Facial recognition firms track citizens for police surveillance. Cryptocurrency has wiped out the personal savings of millions and threatens the stability of the global financial system. 

In “The Tech Coup,” Marietje Schaake offers a behind-the-scenes account of how technology companies crept into nearly every corner of our lives and our governments.


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Snakes of Australia’

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Updated 15 July 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Snakes of Australia’

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Authors: TIE EIPPER AND SCOTT EIPPER

With more than 1,000 photographs, Snakes of Australia illustrates and describes in detail all 240 of the continent’s species and subspecies—from file snakes, pythons, colubrids, and natricids to elapids, marine elapids, homalopsids, and blind snakes.

It features introductions to each family, species descriptions, type locations, distribution maps, and quick-identification keys to each family and genera.