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Brilliant Exiles: American Women in Paris, 1900–1939 (Hardcover)

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Brilliant Exiles: American Women in Paris, 1900–1939 By Robyn Asleson, Zakiya R. Adair (Contributions by), Denean Sharpley-Whiting (Contributions by), Samuel N. Dorf (Contributions by), Tirza True Latimer (Contributions by) Cover Image
By Robyn Asleson, Zakiya R. Adair (Contributions by), Denean Sharpley-Whiting (Contributions by), Samuel N. Dorf (Contributions by), Tirza True Latimer (Contributions by)
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A scintillating account of the cultural freedom and empowerment that American women experienced as leaders in the avant-garde scene in early twentieth-century Paris
For the American women who made Paris their home during the early decades of the twentieth century, the city offered unique opportunities for personal emancipation and professional innovation. While living as expatriates in the international center of all things avant-garde, these women escaped the constraints that limited them at home and enjoyed unprecedented freedom and autonomy. Through portraiture, this volume illuminates the histories of sixty convention-defying women who contributed to the vibrant modernist milieu of Paris—including Berenice Abbott, Josephine Baker, Zelda Fitzgerald, Peggy Guggenheim, Romaine Brooks, and Gertrude Stein. Several of them rose to preeminence as cultural arbiters while exploring culture-shifting experiments in fields such as art, literature, publishing, music, fashion, journalism, theater, and dance.
Beautifully illustrated, Brilliant Exiles features essays that trace the divergent trajectories of American women in Paris, examining the impact of race, class, and sexuality on their experiences in the French capital. The texts also highlight the role of portraiture in articulating new conceptions of female identity that American women were at liberty to develop in Paris. Working collaboratively with their portraitists, they honed the images that would memorialize them and redefine the imagery of modern womanhood.
Published in association with the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Exhibition Schedule:
National Portrait Gallery
(April 26, 2024–February 23, 2025)
Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY
(March 29–June 22, 2025) 
Georgia Museum of Art
(July 19–October 12, 2025)

About the Author

Robyn Asleson is curator of prints and drawings at the National Portrait Gallery.

Praise For…

“Robyn Asleson and various art experts contribute essays alongside portraits of more than 60 American women who found freedom, fame, and transformation in the City of Light during the heady early years of the 20th century.”—Liz French, Library Journal, “Editors’ Picks of the Season,” Spring 2024

Product Details
ISBN: 9780300273588
ISBN-10: 0300273584
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: June 18th, 2024
Pages: 288
Language: English