Tuesday, May 30, 2017

An Illustrated Guide to Linda Nochlin’s “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”

As relevant now as when it was written - a statue of a defiant little girl facing the charging bull on Wall Street infuriated the fragile male ego of the artist that he has to put a statue of a dog pissing on the woman's leg. A very accurate metaphor of the way the world treats a lot of women artists and a sad and disgusting reflection of the way that many men deal with women, artists or otherwise.

An Illustrated Guide to Linda Nochlin’s “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”

First published in ARTnews in 1971, Nochlin’s essay is considered to be one of the first major works of feminist art history.

...:Although Nochlin’s essay did not provide a comprehensive or systematic model for a feminist art history, it did posit a clear methodological approach, which she keenly reiterates in her conclusion:

By stressing the institutional, rather than the individual, or private, preconditions for achievement or the lack of it in the arts, I have tried to provide a paradigm for the investigations of other areas in the field […] I have suggested that it was indeed institutionally made impossible for women to achieve artistic excellence, or success, on the same footing as men, no matter what the potency of their so-called talent, or genius.

As one of the first major works of the field, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” inspired countless artists and scholars to embark on their own fields of inquiry. Indeed, the essay is best understood as part of a larger post-structuralist rejection of perceived binary oppositions (men/women, black/white, heterosexual/homosexual,
cisgender/transgender) and the inherently unequal and unjust dichotomies that they perpetuate."

“Nochlin nailed the problem four decades ago,” wrote Eleanor Heartney in a 2015 tribute to the art historian. “That her thinking is still so current says some sad things about contemporary culture.”


1 comment:

Carla Ives said...

I've seen some articles about the defiant girl facing the Wall Street bull now having company in the form a little pissing pug. Not sure why, though. And I find it interesting that Nochlin came upon her theory decades ago. While it may have been true then, it's a bit shocking that it's still true today. Equality should have been more advanced by now than it is.