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

Homer Winslow - Portrait of Helena de Kay

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.

Location: Strand Bookstore

828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

The Rare Book Room at Strand Bookstore boasts an elegant venue for our Friday night residency.

Interdisciplinary Learning with the Best Professors

Think Olio is not about learning a new skill or adding credentials to your resume. It is about getting together with other people and expanding our worldview. It exists as a conduit for fruitful discussions, a dissent from the regurgitation of facts, and an embrace of new perspectives.

Learn about joining the Scenius for $10 / month

Other upcoming Olios

Apr 24


Taught by Jeanne Proust
7:30 p.m. at Berg'n

Sign Up - $15

Apr 25

Art or Image?

Taught by Vishwa Adluri
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Apr 27

OlioHouse | Found Poetry: Literary Collages in Ordinary Places

Taught by Heather O'Neill
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $150

May 3

The Holy Fool

Taught by Geoff Klock
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

May 7

Olio Movie Night | Eraserhead

Taught by Geoff Klock
8 p.m. at Nitehawk Cinema Williamsburg

Sign Up - $0

May 10

Cuba and The Commu-Capitalist Reality of Today

Taught by Teresita Levy
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

May 15


Taught by Skye Cleary
7:30 p.m. at Berg'n

Sign Up - $20

May 22

Stoicism in a World out of Your Control

Taught by Massimo Pigliucci
7:30 p.m. at The Assemblage | NoMad

Sign Up - $20

May 24

Sex, Pleasure & Intimacy in the Time of Capitalism

Taught by Kim Nguyen
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

May 29

Composing Beauty: Mapplethorpe’s Quest for Perfection

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at BAM Fisher

Sign Up - $20

Find out when we launch new classes!