Preferred Citation: Todd, Ellen Wiley. The "New Woman" Revised: Painting and Gender Politics on Fourteenth Street. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1993 1993.



When my niece Karen Todd wrote a biographical sketch of me for her eighth-grade English class, she contrasted her impatient nature to my deliberate one: "she takes life the way she eats crab: she does the work first, then delicately picks at the cleaned meat." Witnessing at the time my total absorption in full-time teaching and dissertation writing, she marveled at what she perceived as my ability to sustain a high degree of deferred gratification. Throughout this project, composing acknowledgments has been, like savoring cleaned crab, a great source of pleasurable anticipation. It marks a point of closure and the moment when I can finally commit to print sentences that, in spite of a lengthy mental gestation, convey all too inadequately my gratitude to those whose support made this book possible. I can only hope that the individuals mentioned here can move beyond the limiting convention of names in acknowledgments to recall the moments of collegial interaction, intellectual exchange and collaboration, and friendship that sustain all our scholarly endeavors—and which have been mine in abundance.

A fellowship from the Smithsonian Institution, a grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and a summer stipend from George Mason University contributed to the research and writing of the book. Judith Zilczer at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Virginia Mecklenberg and Lois Fink at the National Museum of American Art, and Garnett McCoy and the staff at the Archives of American Art provided invaluable guidance during my fellowship. In 1987, I was invited to take part in a summer institute on "Theory and Interpretation in the Visual Arts" sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. All the participants in our lively group challenged me to rethink the theoretical framework of the book, especially Shelly Errington, Kathryn Fruhan, Ludmilla Jordanova, Janet Kaplan, Linda Nochlin, and Irit Rogoff. I am enormously grateful to Michael Ann Holly and Keith Moxey for including me in the institute and for their ongoing engagement with the project. I would also like to thank the Millard Meiss Publication Fund of the College Art Association of America for awarding a subsidy to support the production of this book.

Private collectors who opened their homes so that I might view paintings and museums and galleries that have allowed me to view and research individual works are acknowledged in the list of illustrations. Special thanks are due to the staff


members at the Forum Gallery, the Midtown Payson Galleries, and the Zabriskie Gallery; to Toni Powers at Dodge Color Photo, Inc.; and to Anita Duquette at the Whitney Museum of American Art for her help in locating obscure photographs. I am indebted to Sheila Levine and Stephanie Fay at the University of California Press: Sheila's commitment to the manuscript and her unwavering calm during my anxious moments have been invaluable—and her friendship one of the rewards of this process. Stephanie scrutinized the manuscript at every level, expertly sharpening my wandering prose. My colleagues in the Art and Art History Department at George Mason University never failed to understand my immersion in the writing and editing of the manuscript and the complexities of production.

Over the years, at conferences and informal gatherings, I have benefited from numerous interchanges with friends and colleagues in Art History, American Studies, and Women's Studies. For their contributions and encouragement I thank Denise Albanese, Nancy Anderson, Brandon Brame Fortune, Marilyn Cohen, Diane Dillon, Marianne Doezema, Estelle Freedman, Jim Herbert, Helen Langa, Suzanne Lewis, David Lubin, Michael Marlais, Elizabeth Milroy, Wendy Owens, Kathy Peiss, Phyllis Rosenszweig, Roy Rosenszweig, Sally Stein, Susan Sterling, Claire Tieder, Amy Vandersall, Alan Wallach, Tom Willette, and Rebecca Zurier. Insightful comments from Patricia Hills, Patricia Mathews, Whitney Chadwick, and Roland Marchand helped me to rework the manuscript in its later stages.

Two scholars in American Art History changed the course of my own academic life. At a crucial turning point in graduate school, Elizabeth Johns urged me to trust my instinct and study American Art. She welcomed me into her graduate study group at the University of Maryland, making it possible for me to continue exploring a new field; thanks to her I have never looked back. In all areas of academic endeavor, Wanda Corn continues to be a shining example. No matter what the demands of her own scholarly, professional, or teaching activities, she patiently unraveled numerous dissertation drafts, interrogated my assumptions, and helped me reshape the project—tasks performed with her keen awareness of the always present but seldom obvious relation between the person and the project. I cannot imagine how this book could have been written without her.

Not all debts are scholarly ones. Through twenty years of friendship, Janet Martin never lost faith in me. Doreen and Harold Zisla and Ilene Birge saw me through difficult personal times with unmeasurable love and generosity. As kind and forgiving roommates at various stages of the process Cindy Meyers-Seifer, Gail Sonnemann, and Denise Albanese deserve special thanks. Suzanne Kinser continues to inspire me with her own devotion to writing. Cathy Popkin's well-developed sense of the insignificant, coupled with her ironic wit, has transformed scholarly despair into wry amusement on many occasions. Joan Stevenson, my regular partner for two years of memorable Monday lunches, helped me launch this, and other of life's projects. Closer to home, Beverly Hitchins and Gail Walker have boosted my spirits with many happy evenings.


This book was written during a 1989-90 leave of absence, which I spent in Columbia, South Carolina. There I reap the one benefit of a commuting relation-ship—a second home with wonderful friends and colleagues. The scholars on Hagood Avenue produced three manuscripts that year, thanks in part to excellent communal meals, calming postprandial dog walks, and spontaneous philosophical conversations. Ferdy Schoeman was always close at hand, expressing thoughtful interest in my work, and he and Sara Schecter Schoeman gave unforgettable meaning to neighborhood life. I am grateful to Joan Gero and Lee Jane Kaufman for our spirited feminist lunches. I would also like to thank Stephen Loring, David Whiteman, Brad Collins, R. I. G. Hughes, Alfred and Angela Nordmann, and Davis Baird. Finally there was Linda Weingarten. Over afternoon teas at the end of our respective workdays, Linda and I savored the pleasures of women's space and time. Her intuitive wisdom, her joy at friendship's adventure, and her courage delighted and motivated me in ways I may never fully understand, but will never forget.

There can be no greater satisfaction than combining close friendship with scholarly and personal interests. I share this special configuration with four women who, with rich and abundant insights, have patiently read and commented on virtually every word of this project in its various permutations. At George Mason University, Sheila ffolliott has been the ideal colleague, helping me read the old masters and think about feminist art history. Barbara Melosh has been a thoughtful and skillful guide to the cultural history of the Depression. Our suppertime readings in literature, film, and feminist theory, not to mention her own work on New Deal public art, contributed enormously to my rethinking the manuscript and to the quality of my life. Though academic geography has placed us at great distances from one another, Melissa Dabakis and Cécile Whiting have been my most challenging critics and my greatest sources of inspiration. I cannot possibly convey in a sentence what a decade of intellectual collaboration and companionship has meant. I can only hope that since they sometimes know what I am feeling before I do myself they will understand the fullness of my gratitude when I thank them for the gift of their friendship.

I am fortunate to have the encouragement of a wonderful family, whose history and customs are woven through this book in ways that continue to surprise me. My grandmother Frances Ellen Wiley Hofman, who marked her one-hundredth birthday shortly before her death two years ago, was my first new woman. Determined and fiercely independent, she was a business executive, devoted to her family, a dedicated consumer of every conceivable new technology, and clear about women's proper roles—everthing imaginable but the priesthood and the presidency. Though she might have quibbled with some of my assessments, I know she would have been pleased. My parents, Jan and Rocky Gray, gave me a New York home for lengthy stretches of research, well after they thought the nest was empty, and enthusiastically followed exhibitions and publications to learn about my artists. Their love and support made the book possible long before it began.


My sister, Sarah Todd, has cheered this book from afar, contributing her fine artist's eye to the analysis of pictures and her excellent photography to all stages of the project. I thank her for her gift of unconditional sisterly affection, for her intelligent perspective, and for sharing her wise and whimsical daughter, Frances Garretson, with me.

I can never properly thank Bill, Eva, and Karen Todd for all that they have so unselfishly given me—from the years of family walks and Sunday dinners to the unspoken understanding of all my choices. As senior family academic, Bill has been both my adviser and friend, rejoicing with me at every milestone. Early on he provided a model of integrity for a scholar-teacher's life and offered sage counsel. If I cannot repay his many gifts, I look forward to presenting this book, hoping it will be worthy of standing alongside his own contributions on the family bookshelf. Finally, watching Karen become a young woman of grace and intellect has been deeply satisfying; I would remind her that she too continues to be a "significant person" in my life.

True to Karen's characterization, I have saved the best for last. Martin Donougho has been my wise and gentle companion for the last five years, patiently enduring the pleasures and pitfalls of book production. He gave me a room of my own for writing, deployed his philosophical acumen to tighten my arguments, reanimated my drooping spirits with another brisk walk—accompanied by lively discussions from his storehouse of cultural knowledge—and has generously followed baseball rather more than I do cricket. My life is immeasurably enriched by his presence. So that he might know how much his love has meant, I dedicate this book to him.

E. W. T.
MAY 1992



Preferred Citation: Todd, Ellen Wiley. The "New Woman" Revised: Painting and Gender Politics on Fourteenth Street. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1993 1993.