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  • Published: 3 September 2024
  • ISBN: 9781529156096
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 576
  • RRP: $29.99

The Story of Art without Men

The instant Sunday Times bestseller

The bestselling category killer comes to paperback with a new chapter and a full publicity and marketing campaign


Book of the Year: Waterstones, The Times, Sunday Times, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, iPaper and Bookshop.org

'A spirited, inspiring, brilliantly illustrated history of female artistic endeavour' Laura Freeman, The Times

'Will change the history of art . . . thank God' Tracey Emin

How many women artists do you know? Who makes art history? Did women even work as artists before the twentieth century? And what is the Baroque anyway?

Discover the glittering Sofonisba Anguissola of the Renaissance, the radical work of Harriet Powers in the nineteenth-century USA and the artist who really invented the Readymade. Explore the Dutch Golden Age, the astonishing work of post-War artists in Latin America and the women artists defining art in the 2020s. Have your sense of art history overturned, and your eyes opened to many art forms often overlooked or dismissed. From the Cornish coast to Manhattan, Nigeria to Japan, this is the history of art as it's never been told before.

'I am so thrilled this book exists' Elizabeth Day

  • Published: 3 September 2024
  • ISBN: 9781529156096
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 576
  • RRP: $29.99

About the author

Katy Hessel

Katy Hessel is an art historian, presenter and curator dedicated to celebrating female artists. The founder of @thegreatwomenartists and the podcast of the same name, she has collaborated with Tate Modern and Dior, lectured at Cambridge University and the National Gallery and presented programmes for the BBC.

Praise for The Story of Art without Men

Katy Hessel is a brilliant chronicler of the overlooked. I am so thrilled this book exists as an empowering, enlightening guide to the unforgettable vision of these brilliant artists. Essential reading

Elizabeth Day

Katy Hessel's first book The Story of Art without Men is a necessary and urgent book. A truly empowering title, the volume celebrates the rise of women artists and recentres them within art, political and social history. Many of these artists have been presented at Serpentine and their visions are getting the visibility they deserve through the fantastic visuals and Katy's thorough research

Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director, Serpentine

Although women have always made art, for far too long, art history has been told as the story of male achievement. Katy Hessel's The Story of Art without Men is a brilliantly readable and lively corrective. Outraged and celebratory, it's chock-full of female trail-blazers - from the Renaissance until the present day - who forged their way, despite facing the kind of hurdles that would stump most mortals

Jennifer Higgie, author of The Mirror and the Palette

Will change the history of art... thank God.

Tracey Emin

I was not aware how hungry I was for this book until I dropped everything and ate it from cover to cover. I was not aware how angry I was that this book did not exist until it existed. It's an urgently needed, un-put-downable, joyful, insightful, glorious, perspective-shifting revision of the Story of Art.

Es Devlin

In this astounding, generous book, Katy Hessel has given us such a gift. Her research is profound, scholarly and wide-ranging, her writing authoritative yet accessible. I found so much to surprise and delight in these pages, so many works of art pulsating with life and intelligence, beauty and power. This book is a long-overdue corrective, and Hessel has executed it to perfection, echoing the passion and skill of the very artists she writes about. An astonishing achievement.

Jessie Burton, author of The Miniaturist

This passionate and personal telling of what has been an invisible history will bring revelation to anyone entering the world of art and its histories.

Iwona Blazwick, Director, The Whitechapel Gallery

An extraordinary achievement that will have a disruptive cultural legacy and help deter­mine the landscape for years to come.

Helena Lee, Harper's Bazaar

A spirited, inspiring, brilliantly illustrated history of female artistic endeavour... The Story of Art Without Men should be on the reading list of every A-level and university art history course and on the front table of every museum and gallery shop.

Laura Freeman, The Times

Excellent, authoritative, exuberant and elegantly written

Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of STALIN: THE COURT OF THE RED TSAR

The early centuries are thin simply due to the paucity of surviving work by talented women painters but her story becomes fuller and more persuasive the closer it gets to today. Hessel is clear-sighted and impartial enough not to over-claim for her subjects but show that they are full of interest and every bit as worthy of attention as their male peers.

Michael Prodger, New Statesmen

Vital... has firmly cracked open the canon

Chloë Ashby, author of WET PAINT, Spectator

Passionate, enthusiastic and witty... I wish I had had this book as a teenager

The i

When women are literally written out of history, Hessel conveys how radical, powerful and vulnerable their lives and art were - and still are. Through moments of rage and celebration, this story fundamentally centres creative freedom: the stifling of it, and the lengths endured to claim it.

Tiarney Miekus, The Sydney Morning Herald

A long overdue, revisionist history of art by the brilliant Katy Hessel ... Never stuffy or supercilious, Hessel's book is a revelation and an important first step towards redressing the balance of an art world in which women have been sidelined, stepped over and trampled upon for far too long


Via chronological chapters focusing on periods of change, Hessel leads the reader back through this story, reinstating the countless women whose contributions were missed.

RA Magazine

Compiled with zip and wit, even the informed reader will learn something new on every page - we really cannot recommend it enough

The Fence

A magnificent read and a beautiful book

David Walliams

An inspiring, beautifully written corrective

Bidisha Mamata, Observer

Unapologetically revisionist

Financial Times

A touchpoint for a new generation who will go on to define the future of those exhibitions, collections, and auctions

Dazed Digital

An illuminating celebration of female artists and their often overlooked place in history


This eye-opening read is an overdue revisionist history of art - ignoring the pale, male canon to celebrate female artists who have been overlooked for centuries

Best non-fiction books of 2022, iPaper

Exhilarating ... a dazzling array marshalled by a talented young art historian who grinds her axe sharply and with skill ... [Hessel's] scholarship, enthusiasm and humour make this lavish book a must for any woman who loves art

Daily Mail

Well-researched and enlightening

Daily Express

This eye-opening read is an overdue revisionist history of art - ignoring the pale, male canon to celebrate female artists who have been overlooked for centuries

The best non-fiction books of 2022, i paper

A book for every aspiring art historian - whatever their sex

'10 best art books of 2022', The Times

A sumptuously illustrated history... at once broad in scope and meticulously researched

Breeze Barrington, TLS

This book has blown my mind. Really passionately recommend

India Knight, Sunday Times

An extraordinary eye-opener, and very readable ... we badly need books like Hessel's

Evening Standard

Hessel's beautifully written 500-year survey is a welcome, necessary, addition to the bookshelves

Claire Armitstead, Guardian

Highly readable and lavishly illustrated... a rich storehouse of groundbreaking female art

Liz Hodgkinson, The Lady


Bella Mackie

This book changes everything. As soon as you open it, it's like you've opened a box of lit fireworks - out soars great artist after great artist. Her retake on the canon has changed it forever

Ali Smith, Observer

Hessel possesses that rare quality of a public intellectual, whereby she can distill vast amounts of knowledge and history into something accessible, relevant and joyful

Pandora Sykes


L.A. Times

This instant best-seller is a feminist, revisionary history of art by the inimitable Katy Hessel. An essential first step in re-conceptualising the artistic canon by putting the historically sidelined sex at the forefront, this brilliant text makes a fantastic gift

The Standard