Review

Nicole Tersigni: Friends to Keep in Art and Life

Candy Bedworth 13 February 2024 min Read

Published by Chronicle Books in September 2022, Nicole Tersigni’s second book explores female friendship in all its magical, terrible, and hilarious guises. Pairing classic paintings from art history with intelligent humor, this is a book to share with all your pals!

tersigni friends in art: Nicole Tersigni, Friends to Keep in Art and Life, Chronicle Books, 2022, page 45. Courtesy of the publisher.

Nicole Tersigni, Friends to Keep in Art and Life, Chronicle Books, 2022, page 45. Courtesy of the publisher.

Joy of Friendship

Friends are our chosen family. They have seen us at our best, and more importantly, at our worst. They are the people who love us when we forget to love ourselves. They might laugh when you slip on the banana skin of life, but they will help you up and dust you down! This is a book about those little moments. Here we share some of Nicole Tersigni’s work with you and some of our favorite quotes about friendship from inspiring women.

Friendships between women, as any woman will tell you, are built of 1,000 small kindnesses…swapped back and forth, over and over again.

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama, Becoming, Viking Press, 2018.

tersigni friends in art: Nicole Tersigni, Men to Avoid in Art and Life, Chronicle Books, 2021. Courtesy of the publisher.

Nicole Tersigni, Men to Avoid in Art and Life, Chronicle Books, 2021. Courtesy of the publisher.

Men and Women

Nicole Tersigni’s first book, Men to Avoid in Art and Life, paired classical paintings with funny captions and it quickly became a bestseller. Our writer Arianna Richetti interviewed Tersigni last year, and you can read all about the writing of Men to Avoid in Art and Life here. Now comes volume two of her work, celebrating friendship in all its guises: Friends to Keep in Art and Life.

tersigni friends in art: Nicole Tersigni, Friends to Keep in Art and Life, Chronicle Books, 2022, page 17. Courtesy of the publisher.

Nicole Tersigni, Friends to Keep in Art and Life, Chronicle Books, 2022, page 17. Courtesy of the publisher.

Women in Art History

Anna Deavere Smith, an American professor, playwright, and actor, says that friendship is a wildly underrated medicine. But art history is rather quiet on the subject of female friendships. Women are featured in so many famous paintings – but individually, as the mother Madonna, or a peasant, or a Queen, to be viewed and assessed by the male gaze. In groups, we are more likely to appear in harems or domestic settings – mostly entertaining men, of course. But in this book, Tersigni has managed to find a raft of images and added her own personal twist.

Friendship is the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words.

Dinah Craik

A Life For A Life, 1859. Usually misattributed to George Eliot.

How It Happened

Nicole Tersigni is based in Detroit, MI, USA, and is a writer/comedian. Her social media accounts are incredibly popular, and she spends hours trawling museum websites for images of her memes. Success for Tersigini goes back to a tweet, in which she hit out at mansplaining, something that has clearly been around since antiquity. The tweet went viral, and suddenly a book deal was on offer.

tersigni friends in art: Nicole Tersigni, Friends to Keep in Art and Life, Chronicle Books, 2022, page 39. Courtesy of the publisher.

Nicole Tersigni, Friends to Keep in Art and Life, Chronicle Books, 2022, page 39. Courtesy of the publisher.

Best Friends

This year, Tersigni has turned her comedic eye to friendship. The book focuses on five major friend types: the Work Friend, the Nurturing Friend, the Hide a Body for You Friend, the Up for Anything Friend, and the Super Honest Friend. Each chapter perfectly captures an aspect of female friendship. Tersigni explores all those special, silly, intimate, and hilarious moments that define friendship between women.

Abandon the cultural myth that all female friendships must be bitchy, toxic, or competitive. This myth is like heels and purses — pretty, but designed to SLOW women down.

Roxane Gay

Bad Feminist, Corsair, 2014.

tersigni friends in art: Nicole Tersigni, Friends to Keep in Art and Life, Chronicle Books, 2022, page 73. Courtesy of the publisher.

Nicole Tersigni, Friends to Keep in Art and Life, Chronicle Books, 2022, page 73. Courtesy of the publisher.

Cultural Notes

It is worth noting that this neat little book is very American, with references to US popular culture that may not always translate. That aside, it’s still a very humorous work. And to avoid copyright issues, many of the images are lesser-known artists, but here at DailyArt Magazine, we do love digging up fabulous rare works. I will certainly be gifting this book to some of my nearest and dearest. The foreword is written by Sara Benicasa, a comedian, actress, and writer, with fabulous quotes like the one below!

There is nothing in the world as wonderful as a good friend. Sure, orgasms are great (and friends can help you have them), but they don’t last particularly long. Bread is fantastic, but if it’s in my house, it does not last very long, either. Unlike orgasms and bread, friendships can last a lifetime.

Sara Benicasa

Foreword to Friends to Keep in Art and Life by Nicole Tersigni, Chronicle Books, 2022.

Get your own copy of Friends to Keep in Art and Life on the publisher’s website!

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