How could a book be this bad? I had high hopes for this work, sitting at the intersection of two of my biggest interests at the moment—art & feminism. Unfortunately, Lucy Lippard is not a good writer, and my current obsession with Harold Rosenberg (lucid, insightful, brainy writing about art) does her no favors by comparison. I was surprised to run into her a few times in one weekend—she natters on pleasantly in the Eva Hesse documentary, and then Eileen Myles mentioned Lippard’s book in Inferno, which I finished a few days after seeing Lippard on screen. Sadly, the best part of this book were the illustrations of works by women artists.
Regarding dislike of her writing style, I’m not alone. She includes in this book details on why she was fired from the Village Voice in 1985: “bad writing… narrow subject matter… fuzzy politics… lack of aesthetic judgement and principle… boring content… predictability.” I could not agree more. Lippard thinks of herself first and foremost, including herself as the s/hero of the story in almost every single essay in here, pounding us over the head with repetitive information about her feminist transformation (congratulations! do you want a cookie?), constantly referencing other books she’s written, even stooping so far as to give us an hour by hour breakdown of her day, then excusing it lamely, “So what does all this have to do with art and feminism? Everything and nothing. The fabric of our lives is where our art comes from…” Lippard, you are no artist.