Pourquoi n’y a-t-il pas eu de grands artistes femmes ?
In 1971, Linda Nochlin announced the dawn of a feminist art history with the question: “Why haven’t there been any great women artists?” Even today, this essay that deconstructs prejudices and opens new horizons remains foundational for art history. Linda Nochlin shows that the question of the absence of great women artists is biased and she refuses to answer it. With exceptional acuity, she shows rather how the adoption of the only point of view of the white male in the thought, notably with the notion of necessarily male genius, is a moral and intellectual failure. In French, this question has always been translated into the masculine form, postulating precisely that the recourse to the idea of greatness in the history of art has systematically been formulated by men, about men. The feminine has been purely and simply excluded.
For the fiftieth anniversary of its first publication, this text is here re-translated and accompanied by a re-evaluation by Linda Nochlin herself. Written in 2001, at a time when feminist and queer theories as well as postcolonial studies were asserting themselves, “Thirty Years Later” constitutes a reflection on the emergence of a new canon. Referring to Louise Bourgeois, Cindy Sherman and many others, Linda Nochlin proposes a contemporary state of affairs on the situation of women in art. Now, “Why haven’t there been any great women artists?” has become a rallying cry that resonates in our society, a message that is still relevant and necessary today, since as she reiterated in 2015, there is still a long road ahead…
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