New book offers a fascinating and delightfully offbeat look at the untold stories of the art history world

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New book offers a fascinating and delightfully offbeat look at the untold stories of the art history world
“Lively, accessible, and engaging . . . As Dasal observes, ‘art isn’t (always) boring. Sometimes it’s exactly what we need to make our lives more colorful.’ This volume will certainly do that for casual museum-goers, art aficionados, and the just plain curious.” —Booklist

NEW YORK, NY.- Since 2016, Jennifer Dasal has been wowing listeners with her wildly entertaining podcast, ArtCurious, where she delves into the weird and wonderful stories behind the world’s greatest artists and artworks. Now, in her first book, ArtCurious: Stories of the Unexpected, Slightly Odd, and Strangely Wonderful in Art History (Penguin Books; Paperback; On Sale: September 15, 2020), she goes even deeper on the questions that have fascinated her listeners and explores fresh mysteries, including seven chapters of all-new material. Dasal, who is also the curator of modern and contemporary art at the North Carolina Museum of Art, tackles her subjects with humor, lively prose, and thorough research, resulting in a book that’s as informative, eye-opening, and entertaining as her podcast.

We are surrounded by art every day. Claude Monet’s water lilies are ubiquitous on scarves and umbrellas. Our cabinets are full of the Campbell’s Soup cans that inspired Andy Warhol. Even a urinal can be art, as Marcel Duchamp proved with his ready-made Fountain, which has been called one of the greatest masterpieces of the twentieth century. (But did he actually create it? Find out in Chapter 11.) There’s so much more to the art world than stuffy museums, fancy galleries, and old men in paint-spattered shirts and berets, and Dasal knows that the real gems lie in the stories, especially the ones that never get told. ArtCurious is art history as you’ve never read it, stories that will shock and entertain, make you question what you thought you knew, and introduce you to unknown characters and hidden histories, conspiracy theories, scandal, and intrigue. The tales—told in her signature charming and accessible style—range from the weird (Andy Warhol collected toenail clippings) to the dark (a British painter might have been Jack the Ripper) to the quietly fascinating (Norman Rockwell might be best known for schmaltzy Saturday Evening Post covers, but he also painted significant works addressing race and social justice).

In ArtCurious, Dasal is our energetic tour guide into the elite art world, covering an array of topics you never learned in school, including:

• The Mona Lisa has been stolen—more than once!—and what’s on display in the Louvre might actually be a fake.

• Vincent van Gogh is widely thought to have committed suicide, but he may have been murdered.

• Monet and his Impressionist counterparts are fodder for museum gift shops these days, but they were once rebellious badasses subverting the norms of the art world.

• The CIA funded one of the greatest American art movements, Abstract Expressionism, as part of a Cold War propaganda scheme.

• Long sidelined female artists—like the enigmatic German baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven—are behind some of the most iconic artists and art movements, but rarely get their due.

If the words ‘art history’ make you think of sitting in a dark windowless room watching slide after slide of beheaded Greek statues, ArtCurious is here to make you think again. As O, The Oprah Magazine says of the podcast, “Jennifer Dasal will make you look at Western art and history in an entirely new way.” Captivating, amusing, and remarkably educational, ArtCurious is for art lovers, experts, and novices alike – proof that art is far from boring, and instead teeming with the unseen, the odd, the funny, and the mysterious.

Jennifer Dasal is the curator of modern and contemporary art at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the host of the independent podcast ArtCurious, which she started in 2016 and which was named one of the best podcasts by O, The Oprah Magazine and PC Magazine. She holds an MA in art history from the University of Notre Dame and a BA in art history from the University of California, Davis. She has also completed PhD coursework in art history at Pennsylvania State University. She lectures frequently on art both locally and nationally.

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