Acts of Creation On Art and Motherhood

Hettie Judah

Exploring maternity through the work of artists from prehistory to the present day, Acts of Creation addresses the abiding mother-shaped hole in art history.

Long taboo, lived experience of motherhood—and all that accompanies it—has become the subject of urgent discussions within the art world. Acts of Creation: On Art and Motherhood proposes the artist mother as an important cultural figure, though one long overlooked. Modern and contemporary artists such as Berthe Morisot, Barbara Hepworth, Jenny Saville, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Betye Saar, Suzanne Valadon, Louise Bourgeois, Carrie Mae Weems, and many others, address motherhood as a creative enterprise, albeit one tempered variously by ambivalence, exhaustion, and grief. Renowned author and critic Hettie Judah also addresses the conventions and expectations of motherhood through the lens of queer theory, environmental anxiety, and alternative family models. Acts of Creation reflects on the work of a new generation of artists examining the meaning of maternity and the ongoing struggles surrounding reproductive rights. From ancient goddess artifacts to contemporary interpretations of pregnancy in popular culture, this captivating, accessible, and well-illustrated narrative challenges perceptions and illuminates the complexities of motherhood in our ever-changing world.


Hettie Judah


Hettie Judah is one of Britain's leading writers on art and a sought- after public speaker. She writes regularly for The Guardian, Vogue, Frieze, The i, and Apollo, and is the author of several art books that include Art London, Frida Kahlo, Lapidarium: The Secret Lives of Stones, and How Not to Exclude Artist Mothers (and Other Parents). She lives in London.