Madame(s) X: Muses, Makers, & Shifting Identities

Ted Barrow at Strand Bookstore

Tue, Apr 9 at 7 p.m.   |   90 minutes

Behind some of the defining works of early modernism lie the remarkable biographies of the women who inspired the art. What did it mean to toe that line between art and life in an age when women’s rights were strictly curtailed?

Exploring the different ways that female artistic identity constructed through creation, negotiation, and collaboration in an era when women did not have the right to vote, this Olio revises modernist myths of artistic creation to underscore the central role of female muses in self-fashioning and myth-making.

Behind some of the defining works of early modernism, from Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu to John Singer Sargent’s notoriously shape-shifting portrait of Madame X, lies the lesser known biographies of the late 19th century women who inspired them. What did it mean to toe that line between art and life in an age when women’s rights were strictly curtailed? This Olio focuses on the multivalent roles of women in the arts in the 19th century, highlighting the remarkable biographies of Sarah Bernhardt, Virginie-Amelie Avegno, and Helena de Kay. What can we learn from the indelible mark left by these women at the turn of the 19th century?


Join art historian Ted Barrow at Strand's Rare Book Room to explore these questions and more.

Teacher: Ted Barrow

Ted Barrow teaches in Barnard College's Pre-College Program over the summer, focusing on the relationship between art and film in New York City, and has taught art history courses at Baruch, City College, the College of Staten Island, and Brooklyn College. Barrow currently teaches at Cooper Union, and runs a popular satirical Instagram account about skateboarding (@feedback_ts).


Venue: Strand Bookstore

What is Think Olio?


Think Olio is here to put the liberation back into the liberal arts.

Classically, the liberal arts, were the education considered essential for a free person to take an active part in civic life. To counter a humanities that has been institutionalized and dehumanized we infuse critical thinking, openness, playfulness, and compassion into our learning experience.

Read more about our mission, our story, and how we are doing this.

Scenius Membership

If Friday night lectures, museum field trips, and living room salons sound like your kind of thing, then you've found your people. We can't wait to welcome you to the Think Olio Scenius. More info


Other Upcoming Olios


New Toys and New Tyrants: Capitalism and the Rise of Platform Economics

Location: at Online

Teacher: Rob Larson

June 4, 2020, 8 p.m.

A Dialogue: Buddhism and the Stoics

Location: at Online

Teacher: Bhante Kusala & Michael Prettyman

June 5, 2020, 8 p.m.

Seeing the Subconscious: Mindfulness, Psychology, and the Road to Healing Racism

Location: at Online

Teacher: Darryl Aiken-Afam & Robin Schlenger

June 7, 2020, 7 p.m.

Internet Omnipresence & Critical Thinking

Location: at Online

Teacher: Jeanne Proust

June 8, 2020, 8 p.m.

Escape From The City

Location: at Online

Teacher: Ted Barrow

June 10, 2020, 8 p.m.

Progressives, Radicals & Well-Meaning Liberals

Location: at Online

Teacher: Angie Beeman

June 11, 2020, 8 p.m.

Plato Goes East: The Republic and The Bhagavad Gita

Location: at Online

Teacher: Vishwa Adluri

June 14, 2020, noon

Socialism, A Day in the Life

Location: at Online

Teacher: Danny Katch

June 15, 2020, 8 p.m.


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Liaisons Host an Olio

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of art and literature.