Linda Nochlin Essay Why Are There No Great Female Artists

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Looking back at her six-decades-long career, we can’t help but feel a strong sense of awe towards her life’s work.

Her research and the resulting projects spearheaded the mid-20th century feminist thought within the art world, raising consciousness regarding the treatment of female artists and re-discovering numerous women that have been nearly forgotten by art history.

This text approached the question at hand with sharp and nuanced analysis that explained how institutional and societal structures had made it “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.” Thinking about art and its associations in an active and ­present-tense voice, Nochlin stated that there was no such thing as a feminist art history at that time.

She also noted that, like all other forms of historical discourse, feminist art history had to be constructed.

Although this was a definite milestone of her career, Nochlin managed to achieve even more success with her later work, namely by writing her famous essay titled Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?

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., a passionate and rigorous attack on nearly all the received ideas of her day.

This book shed a light of feminist thought within art history that still burns very brightly today.

It also established Linda Nochlin as a leading figure of feminism in art, turning her into one of the symbols of women’s artistic struggles.

By uncompromisingly and academically challenging the norms of this phenomenon, Nochlin not only managed to establish the basis of what we now see as feminism in art but she also successfully resurrected the works of some forgotten and underappreciated women art-makers.

As a result, many roads of today’s art scene lead directly to this late art historian who devoted much of her long life to fighting for what she believed in, inspiring countless feminist artists of the 20th century and beyond to not be afraid of doing the same.


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