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?
Like 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.