Romaine Brooks: A Life by Cassandra Langer

Press release

Cover: Romaine Brooks a Life
The Cover of Romaine Brooks a Life by Cassandra Langer (UW Press, September 2015)

Romaine Brooks (1874–1970)

The artistic achievements of Romaine Brooks (1874–1970), both as a major expatriate American painter and as a formative innovator in the decorative arts, have long been overshadowed by her fifty-year relationship with writer Natalie Barney and a reputation as a fiercely independent, aloof heiress who associated with fascists in the 1930s. In Romaine Brooks: A Life, art historian Cassandra Langer provides a richer, deeper portrait of Brooks’s aesthetics and experimentation as an artist—and of her entire life, from her chaotic, traumatic childhood to the enigmatic decades after World War II, when she produced very little art. This provocative, lively biography takes aim at many myths about Brooks and her friends, lovers, and the subjects of her portraits, revealing a woman of wit and passion who overcame enormous personal and societal challenges to become an extraordinary artist and create a life on her own terms.

Romaine Brooks: A Life

introduces much fresh information from Langer’s decades of research on Brooks and establishes this groundbreaking artist’s centrality to feminism and contemporary sexual politics as well as to visual culture. Romaine Brooks: A Life will by Cassandra Langer be published in September 2015 by University of Wisconsin Press, USA.

About Cassandra Langer

Cassandra Langer 2015 iconCassandra Langer is an art historian, critic, and appraiser. She is the author and editor of several books, including New Feminist Criticisms: Art, Identity, Action. She lives in New York and blogs at

The Book Tour

Cassandra is available for visiting speaker opportunities events, workshops etc. She can speak on a number of subjects. She needs to fund her book tour so any help would be much appreciated. Cassandra says: It’s been a very long haul of rolling the rock but well worth it. Let me know what you think. Suggestions always welcome.

Related Links

Kickstarter Project – A New Book About Romaine Brooks, posted at Feminine Moments, April 26, 2013.

The Romaine Brooks You Never Knew

Invitation from Dr. Cassandra Langer

Romaine Brook

The Romaine Brooks You Never Knew

Rediscovering America’s Elusive Modernist Painter

Please join me for
A lunchtime talk at the Smithsonian
Thursday, November 20th

Archives of American Art

750 9th Street NW, 2nd Floor
Washington, USA
Please present your ID to enter the building

Look forward to seeing you,

Dr. Cassandra Langer
Former Smithsonian Post-Doctoral Fellow
and author of All or Nothing: Romaine Brooks (1874-1970)
forthcoming from University of Wisconsin Press
and Mother and Child in Art


Related Links

Painter Romaine Brooks
Kickstarter Project – A New Book About Romaine Brooks – by Cassandra Langer

Kickstarter Project – A New Book About Romaine Brooks

A project by Cassandra Langer

All or Nothing: The Many Faces of Romaine Brooks is an exciting new reading of the oh-so glamorous life of one of the most transgressive sublimely opinionated gay figures of the 20th century. Think K.D. Lang meets I Kissed A Girl. The author [Cassandra Langer] reexamines Brooks’ hot gender-bender romances with Winnaretta Singer, Renée Vivien, Gabriele D’Annunzio, Ida Rubenstein, and Natalie Barney. Drawing upon newly found primary source material she explodes the long held myth regarding the nature of Brooks’ relationship with Natalie Barney. The book paints a complex psychological and sociological portrait of an artist frequently at odds with herself and inevitably at odds with her times whose circle includes Harold Acton, Djuna Barnes, Bernard Berenson, Jean Cocteau, Elsie de Wolfe, Janet Flanner, Radclyffe Hall, Somerset Maugham, Robert de Montesquieu, Man Ray, Gertrude Stein, Uberto Strozzi, Alice B. Toklas, Una Troubridge, Carl Van Vechten, and just about everyone who was anyone in Paris from 1905 through 1935. And Langer discusses Brooks’ quest for perfection in her portraits and drawings as well as her aesthetics inspired by the groundbreaking music of Debussy as well as her experiences as an American living in Mussolini’s Italy during World War II and beyond concluding with how Brooks creates her’ Queer Heroic—and how we now perform gender-the very essence of queerness today.’

Go to the kickstarter project page to make a donation and help Cassandra Langer make her picture book about lesbian painter Romaine Brooks.

Catalog: Frida Kahlo Retrospective

Frida Kahlo Retrospective
by Helga Prignitz-Poda, et al.
Prestel, USA, 2010
Exhibition catalog
ISBN-10: 9783791350103
ISBN-13: 978-3791350103
ASIN: 3791350102

Cassandra Langer about the catalog in The Gay and Lesbian Rewiew, March – April 2011, Volume 18, Issue 2: “PUBLISHED last year on the occasion of a major retrospective of Frida Kahlo’s work in the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2010), and Bank Austria Kunstforum, in Vienna, the Frida Kahlo Retrospective is accompanied by a coffee table-sized catalog. It is a stunningly beautiful book with glorious color and black-and-white illustrations. (…)
Art historian Hayden Herrera notes the dualities in Kahlo’s work: life and death, night and day, sun and moon, male and female. Prignitz-Poda follows up on Herrera’s work using the catalogue as a vehicle to develop her own theory about Kahlo’s fluid sexuality, and finally to reclaim her as heterosexual. The reasons for this claim escape me. The truth is that Kahlo was passionately bisexual and had affairs with both men and women throughout her turbulent marriage to Diego.” (…)

Art historian Cassandra Langer has written a review, ‘Moods Flowing on Canvas’, about the catalog ‘Frida Kahlo Retrospective’ for The Gay and Lesbian Review, a bimonthly Journal of History, Culture, and Politics.