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Sisters in Art: The Biography of Margaret, Esther, and Helen Bruton

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Featuring color photographs and artwork, Sisters in Art is the first biography ever written about Margaret, Esther, and Helen Bruton, the three exceptionally talented sisters whose mark on the modernist California art scene still surrounds and impacts our world today. In the 1920s and 1930s, the press and elite artistic circles would have quickly recognized the distinguisha Featuring color photographs and artwork, Sisters in Art is the first biography ever written about Margaret, Esther, and Helen Bruton, the three exceptionally talented sisters whose mark on the modernist California art scene still surrounds and impacts our world today. In the 1920s and 1930s, the press and elite artistic circles would have quickly recognized the distinguishable names of Margaret, Esther, and Helen Bruton for creating an eclectic body of modern art and creativity. Originally from Alameda, California, the sisters experimented with several mediums and styles, each eventually finding a specialization that expressed her the best: Margaret turned to oil paintings, watercolors, and terrazzo tabletops, one of which is showcased in a house in Carmel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright; Esther became known for her murals, etchings, fashion illustrations, and decorative screens and contributed to the Cirque Room at the luxurious Fairmont Hotel; and Helen lost herself in large-scale mosaics, which are still displayed at the San Francisco Zoo and both UC Berkeley and USC campuses. All three sisters often collaborated with one another as well, one of their most important pieces being a celebrated mural that was the largest work of art at the 1939 World's Fair in San Francisco. They often found themselves in the company of luminaries including Diego Rivera, Henry Matisse, Armin Hansen, Maynard Dixon, Frida Kahlo, Imogen Cunningham, Ansel Adams, and others. Disinterested in self-promotion, the Brutons received little to no credit--until more recently, as art historians and collectors unearth new discoveries and understandings of the sisters. Carefully researched and written by Wendy Good, recognized as the foremost expert on the Bruton sisters, Sisters in Art is the detailed history of the contributions that these three women made whose works continue to be eagerly studied and appreciated today.


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Featuring color photographs and artwork, Sisters in Art is the first biography ever written about Margaret, Esther, and Helen Bruton, the three exceptionally talented sisters whose mark on the modernist California art scene still surrounds and impacts our world today. In the 1920s and 1930s, the press and elite artistic circles would have quickly recognized the distinguisha Featuring color photographs and artwork, Sisters in Art is the first biography ever written about Margaret, Esther, and Helen Bruton, the three exceptionally talented sisters whose mark on the modernist California art scene still surrounds and impacts our world today. In the 1920s and 1930s, the press and elite artistic circles would have quickly recognized the distinguishable names of Margaret, Esther, and Helen Bruton for creating an eclectic body of modern art and creativity. Originally from Alameda, California, the sisters experimented with several mediums and styles, each eventually finding a specialization that expressed her the best: Margaret turned to oil paintings, watercolors, and terrazzo tabletops, one of which is showcased in a house in Carmel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright; Esther became known for her murals, etchings, fashion illustrations, and decorative screens and contributed to the Cirque Room at the luxurious Fairmont Hotel; and Helen lost herself in large-scale mosaics, which are still displayed at the San Francisco Zoo and both UC Berkeley and USC campuses. All three sisters often collaborated with one another as well, one of their most important pieces being a celebrated mural that was the largest work of art at the 1939 World's Fair in San Francisco. They often found themselves in the company of luminaries including Diego Rivera, Henry Matisse, Armin Hansen, Maynard Dixon, Frida Kahlo, Imogen Cunningham, Ansel Adams, and others. Disinterested in self-promotion, the Brutons received little to no credit--until more recently, as art historians and collectors unearth new discoveries and understandings of the sisters. Carefully researched and written by Wendy Good, recognized as the foremost expert on the Bruton sisters, Sisters in Art is the detailed history of the contributions that these three women made whose works continue to be eagerly studied and appreciated today.

34 review for Sisters in Art: The Biography of Margaret, Esther, and Helen Bruton

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeani

    This is a detailed, thorough look at the Bruton sisters, their art, and the people in their lives that influenced their art. It is well written and I found it lovely to see the art being discussed right there in the book. While I found it to be too much for me, those keenly interested in art and artists should definitely pick this up.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bruce Cline

    Sisters in Art is the story (stories) of the lives and art of Margaret, Esther, and Helen Bruton, three sisters who became some of the most celebrated modernists artists out of California. Their family’s money allowed them the independence needed to explore art including during the Depression, be trained by a variety of experts, and then pursue careers in art. As with many (most?) books about visual arts, this one could have benefited from more illustrations, though the ones included are mostly Sisters in Art is the story (stories) of the lives and art of Margaret, Esther, and Helen Bruton, three sisters who became some of the most celebrated modernists artists out of California. Their family’s money allowed them the independence needed to explore art including during the Depression, be trained by a variety of experts, and then pursue careers in art. As with many (most?) books about visual arts, this one could have benefited from more illustrations, though the ones included are mostly wonderful. Unfortunately, artists to whom they are compared are not represented in the illustrations, detracting from the many comparisons made by the author. Each of the sisters forged her own path through the art world, developing different styles and sometimes using different media, but they remained physically and artistically close throughout their lives. Over the course of their respective careers they produced oil paintings, watercolors, murals, etchings, illustrations, decorative screens, and large mosaics. Not having previously heard of them, I was pleasantly surprised to see and enjoy their work and to learn of their interesting careers. It was rather stunning to learn about the many well known artists they knew and worked with over the years. The Bruton artworks as shown in the book were of uneven quality—in my opinion—but that is to be expected. Most, though, are exceptional examples of modernist art. Regardless, it was all interesting and makes one wonder why they are not better known.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Laine Farley

  4. 4 out of 5

    Holly

  5. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Good

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cyndy Balot

  7. 5 out of 5

    West Margin Press

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Schroeder

  9. 5 out of 5

    RiversideReader

  10. 4 out of 5

    Emily

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Fischer

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Vegan

  13. 4 out of 5

    Erika

  14. 4 out of 5

    Annie Garvey

  15. 4 out of 5

    Randy Mazzuca

  16. 5 out of 5

    Melody

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Mcnally

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lily Caravello

  19. 5 out of 5

    Larry-bob Roberts

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gwen Anderson

  21. 5 out of 5

    Micielle

  22. 4 out of 5

    A.K.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Hughes

  24. 4 out of 5

    Douglass Abramson

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kara Sjoblom-Bay

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Stone

  27. 4 out of 5

    Valerie Cunningham

  28. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lena

  30. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Spearman

  31. 5 out of 5

    Christy Johnston

  32. 4 out of 5

    Bridgett

  33. 5 out of 5

    Shelly

  34. 5 out of 5

    Jean Felty

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