Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists

by Donna Seaman

Identity Unknown is not only a book that illuminates the lives and works of seven artists who have been unjustly neglected, a fate shared by countless brilliant women in many fields, it is a passionate examination of the artistic calling itself. In elegant, lucid prose, Seaman makes the unknown known, filling in each blank with a vivid portrait of an exceptional twentieth century artist.”

— Siri Hustvedt, author of The Blazing World


“Beautifully written and wise, this haunting book reveals the lives of seven brilliantly creative American artists. The result is poignant and funny, pensive and dramatic, full of love, adventure, and the transcendent glory. The storied quilt of these unknown lives is absolutely enchanting.”

— Diane Ackerman, author of The Zookeeper’s Wife


“In these vibrant and poignant portrayals, Donna Seaman tugs her subjects’ art out of the shadows where it has stalled, not least because its creators were women, and restores it to the tangle of their everyday lives. Seaman is a marvelous writer, and her book is a gift to us all.”

— Patricia Albers, author of Joan Mitchell: Lady Painter


“Donna Seaman’s writes with insight, passion, and clarity about seven women artists whose work is a revelation.  So much does she deepen our understanding of these artists that in the end we recognize that their identities are now known.  This book is a treasure.”

— Edward Hirsch, author of How to Read a Poem


“Donna Seaman’s Identity Unknown is written with a painter’s eye, a poet’s heart, and a critic’s keenness.   This dazzling, necessary, one-of-a-kind masterwork, where ardent and brilliant writing converges with art, creates an exquisite tapestry of talent, tightly and passionately woven.”

—Susan Hahn, author of The Scarlet Ibis


“A lively introduction to seven American women artists, selected from a field where many deserve to be much better known. Donna Seaman’s illuminating profiles make us yearn for more.” 

— Gail Levin, author of Lee Krasner: A Biography and Becoming Judy Chicago: A Biography of the Artist


Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pub Date: February 2017
480 pages with 32 pages of color plates
$35 Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1620407585
and many fine indie book stores, please ask for the book.


Donna Seaman is Editor, Adult Books, Booklist, a member of the advisory council for the American Writers Museum, and a recipient of the James Friend Memorial Award for Literary Criticism and the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award. She has reviewed for the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, among others. She has written biocritical essays for the Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature and American Writers. Her author interviews are collected in Writers on the Air: Conversations about Books. She lives in Chicago.

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