Mid-Century Modern Women in the Visual Arts represents the summit of Ellen Surrey’s personal foray into California Modernism. It was an ascent which began at a basecamp thousands of miles east of the Golden State: in London, to be exact, where Surrey studied abroad under the brick parapets of Georgian architecture and the storied wings of England’s late-modernist art scene. There she was tasked with creating a project revolving around California Modernism, eventually yielding a concept book—California Girls—which served as the prototypical predecessor to this book.
Gloria Fowler—who edited Mid-Century Modern Women—comprises one half of this Art Center superteam opposite Ellen Surrey. Having both graduated from the renowned Pasadena school, Surrey more recently than Fowler (who has taught there for 20 years), the two became what seems like the perfect pairing for this kind of collaborative endeavor.
You’ll find that much of the content between the book cloth covers of MCMW originated from Surrey’s London project: memorable quotes by the iconic female creatives peppered throughout, vibrant two-page illustrations in the artists’ growingly identifiable style, and biographical profiles which serve as endcaps to the featured women. Mary Blair, Edith Heath, Yayoi Kusama and many other influential artists are gorgeously encased in pomp and epitaph; this is a treasury from which to discover new heroines and reignite the memory of forgotten ones.
Mid-Century Modern Women in the Visual Arts is a coffee table must-have for any household—even if your coffee table isn’t an Isamu Noguchi from Herman Miller.