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

Classical Nudes and the Making of Queer History

Press Release by Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art

We are pleased to announce our upcoming exhibition:

Classical Nudes and the Making of Queer History
October 18, 2014 – January 4, 2015
Opening Reception: October 17, 6-8 pm
Sponsored by the John Burton Harter Charitable Trust

In perhaps its most ambitious exhibition to date, the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art will present Classical Nudes and the Making of Queer History, opening on October 18, 2014. For the first time ever, the exhibition will trace the same-sex gaze as grounded in the classical form, from Antiquity to the modern day.

Curated by Jonathan David Katz, exhibition’s central premise is that the image of the classical past is a recurring touchstone in the historical development of same-sex representation, and as such, constitutes a sensitive barometer of the shifting constructions of what we today call LGBT or queer culture. The classical past is thus queer culture’s central original myth, and its representation offers insight about the culture that appropriated it. In tracing this trajectory of the classical nude across history, this show concentrates on four periods: Antiquity, Renaissance, 19th Century and Modern/Contemporary. It is important to note that work by women and people of color within this genre really only begin to appear in the last period.

The exhibition will contain nearly a hundred objects of sculpture, painting, drawing, and photography from sources such as the Library of Congress, Smithsonian American Art Museum, New York Public Library, Godwin-Ternbach Museum, Archives of American Art, San Francisco Museum of Art and many other sources. The exhibition will contain work by Djuna Barnes, Aubrey Beardsley, James Bidgood, Romaine Brooks, Paul Cadmus, Heather Cassils, Tee Corinne, F. Holland Day, George Dureau, Albrecht Dürer, Jim French, William von Gloeden, Nan Goldin, Duncan Grant, Sunil Gupta, Lyle Ashton Harris, John Burton Harter, Jess, Herbert List, George Platt Lynes, Andrea Mantegna, Hans von Marees, Robert Mapplethorpe, Duane Michals, Michelangelo, Jacopo Pontormo, Herb Ritts, Guido Reni, Del LaGrace Volcano, and others.

A complete catalog will be available.

Classical Nudes is made possible in part with public funds from the Fund for Creative Communities, supported by New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

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.

Painter Romaine Brooks

Slideshow with paintings by Romaine Brooks

Romaine Brooks

Lesbian Art Herstory: American Painter Romaine Brooks (1874 – 1970) worked in Paris and on Capri in the 1920s. She best known for her images of women in androgynous or masculine dress having, and has among others painted a painting of a young boyish looking girl titled “Peter, A Young English Girl”, 1923-24, which is included in the above slide show (3:21). The slideshow also includes some of her portraits of beautiful women, a series of her mysterious symbolic paintings and a couple of self-portraits (0:12 Self-Portrait, ca. 1905 and 3:11 Self-Portrait, 1923). The longest and most important relationship of Brooks’s life was with Natalie Clifford Barney, whom she met around the start of World War I in Paris. From 1920 to 1924, most of Brooks’s subjects were of women who were in Barney’s social circle or who visited her salon.

Related Links

Romaine Brooks at Wikipedia