Linda Nochlin died about two weeks ago. In her obituary, the Guardian called her one of art history’s “greatest troublemakers.”
She earned the title by writing a trailblazing article in 1971 called “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”
According to the Smithsonian, Nochlin was a Vassar professor when a male art dealer turned to her and said, “Linda, I would love to show women artists, but I can’t find any good ones. Why are there no great women artists?”
The question haunted her for days. In the article (which is well worth reading), she concluded it was institutional impediments–rather than individual ones–that barred women from becoming great artists.
She had began quest for gender equity early. At the age of six, she took her scissors and poked the eyes of Tinker bell. As she told ARTnews, “I hated Tinker Bell—her weakness, her sickening sweetness, her helplessness, her wispy, evanescent body (so different from my sturdy plump one), her pale hair, her plea to her audience to approve of her.” In her first-grade reader, the character Larry, always the leader of his friend Linda, was the next to experience equality when Nochlin trimmed his height by removing his head and then his legs.
In 2015, she was optimistic about women in the art field. Still, she told ARTnews that “the art market is in many ways still a boys’ club.”
The Guardian noted that Nochlin had “a lifelong exploration of what it is to think, write and view as a woman.” She was still working on a book when she died.
Thanks to Lorelle VanFossen for the article.