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By Karen Nikos-Rose on November 24, 2020

Written by Jeffrey Day, College of Letters and Science. To see the full story, go here.

Since shortly after its launch four years ago, Jennifer Dasal’s ArtCurious podcast has been a hit, garnering kudos from art historians and nods from O: The Oprah Magazine, Salon and National Public Radio. Now Dasal (B.A., art history, ’02) has taken some of those podcast stories and added many more for her book ArtCurious: Stories of the Unexpected, Slightly Odd, and Strangely Wonderful in Art History (Penguin, September 2020).

The 12 chapters are about well-known artists, including Vincent Van Gogh and Andy Warhol, and others unknown to most, but all give insights into little-known, misunderstood or recently discovered aspects of the artists’ lives and art. Did Van Gogh die by murder rather than suicide? Does a British artist’s work reveal that he was Jack the Ripper? Were the first fully abstract paintings created by two female artists? How do you decide if a painting is by Leonardo Da Vinci?

Book coverLike her podcast, the book has a breezy and personal style with many asides, puns and self-deprecating notes. There are several “nerd alerts.”

“I didn’t want it to feel lectury,” Dasal said. “I wanted it to be fun, something you’d want to read. I put a lot of myself in there.”

Still the book, which has sold about 10,000 copies, is thoroughly researched, citing many scholars’ works, and has a 16-page bibliography broken down by chapter and a 12-page index.