This past Sunday, the thought provoking feminist art historian Linda Nochlin passed away at the age of 86. For those of you who studied art or art history in school, you will remember her from her seminal essay "Why Have There Been No Great Female Artists?" The year was 1971, and Nochlin point by point revealed the various mechanisms inherent to Western Art Culture that were designed to keep women from being recognized at the same level of achievement as their male counterparts.
Read Linda Nochlin's full essay "Why Have There Been No Great Female Artists?" here.
(There's an illustrated guide (for the more visually inclined among us) to her essay that was published in Hyperallergic this past May here.)
It's now 2017 and things have been changing for women. But this change has been glacially slow compared to, say, the technologic leaps and bounds we've made in that same amount of time. Women still make far less than their male peers and still are grossly underrepresented in most major institutions. Feminist artist, Micol Hebron, shows this to be painfully clear in her ongoing Gallery Tally project that uses statistical data to compare the ratio of representation between women and men in major art institutions all over the country and world.
Linda Nochlin may have vocalized the disparities between women in and men in the art world, but its up to those of us in the next generations to keep working towards a truly level playing field. In the mean time, I leave you with this quote from Linda:
“But in actuality, as we all know, things as they are and as they have been, in the arts as in a hundred other areas, are stultifying, oppressive, and discouraging to all those, women among them, who did not have the good fortune to be born white, preferably middle class and, above all, male. The fault lies not in our stars, our hormones, our menstrual cycles, or our empty internal spaces, but in our institutions and our education--education understood to include everything that happens to us from the moment we enter this world of meaningful symbols, signs, and signals.”