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A Tribute to Linda Nochlin

Linda Nochlin (b. 1931) grew up an only child in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in a secular, leftist Jewish family where intellectual achievement and artistic appreciation were among the highest goals, along with social justice.

Linda Nochlin

In a recent interview with Maura Reilly, published in the new anthology Women Artists: The Linda Nochlin Reader, there is a passage in which Nochlin recalls the origins of her famous essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”

Linda Nochlin

I can’t think of an essay that has been more influential on my thinking than Linda Nochlin’s seminal (if we may use that term in this context) “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”

Linda Nochlin

The work of Linda Nochlin has been an embarrassment of riches for me. As a feminist artist, her pioneering feminist art historical research and writing has been instrumental to the development of my work.

Against Closure

It’s possible that one of the most important things Linda Nochlin has done is to have launched her best-known salvo in the form of a question. “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” was not just an indictment (though it was that, and a forceful one). It was also an invitation.

Linda Nochlin

My connection to Linda goes back to our undergraduate years at Vassar—a college for women at that time—where Linda graduated first in our class with an unsurpassed record of academic accomplishment.

Linda Nochlin

In 1996 I was invited to speak about my work at the prestigious Institute of Fine Arts at NYU in front of a new generation of scholars, art historians working towards their Ph.D.s. It was the academic home of the great and revolutionary mind of Linda Nochlin.

Linda Nochlin

Linda Nochlin’s art history—expressed in essays, lectures, classes, and conversations—knowingly navigates between the macroscopic and microscopic, the social and the formal, past and present. She has modeled, for me and countless others, what it means to practice art history.

Linda Nochlin

What Linda Nochlin has bequeathed to future art historians and art lovers—her trenchant, socially informed, feminist approach toward painting, particularly that of 19th-century France; her championing of women artists; her openness toward novel manifestations in the visual arts—hardly needs restating. But recently, finding myself rereading her 1971 survey text on Realism, I was struck by a less expected contribution: her acute analysis of contemporaneity.

Linda Nochlin

Last spring I had the wonderful experience of spending time in bucolic Bellagio, in Italy, sequestered away from the multitude of distractions of daily life to think about something I had always wanted to study: the plight of the female artist. In the weeks and months spent in preparation for this fellowship, I read and re-read many classic pieces and I kept coming back to Nochlin’s essay “Why are There No Great Women Artists?” which resonated deeply more than four decades after it was written

The Art Historian According to Artists

The exhibition of Linda Nochlin’s portraits shows the preeminent art historian as perceived by the artists who have been her contemporaries spanning more than five decades.

Linda Nochlin

I first met Linda at Nan Rosenthal’s New Year’s Eve party in 2003. She was ensconced on a divan in the middle of the living room, her hair was hot pink, and she was the only person in the room who had any interest in speaking with a young person.

Linda Nochlin

My husband Max likes to tell this story: back in the early 1960s when he was a graduate student, he asked Linda how Meyer Schapiro had responded to her dissertation on Courbet. She said, “Oh, he tore it to shreds. I was terribly upset.” Then after a few moments, she added, “But I didn’t let it bother me.”

Linda Nochlin: The Intersection of Herself and History

What I’ve realized most from Linda Nochlin: language helps crystallize thought. Her direct and deceptively casual prose is the combination of the colloquial and formal, something she says she learned reading Delmore Schwartz.

Linda’s Realism

For starters, Realism (1971) is more than Linda’s brilliant first book. She wrote it because that’s who she is and was: vibrantly, thickly real; searingly realistic; practically realist.

Linda Nochlin

In a toast at my thirtieth birthday party, Linda said something that has stayed with me since: “Marni is the closest thing to my own personal history.” We were both raised in assimilated Jewish families in Brooklyn and we both graduated from Midwood High School and Vassar College, decades apart, our intertwined histories having begun before we ever met.

A Foot and a Sink

In Linda Nochlin’s bathroom, there is a Wesselmann depicting a single foot with all five toenails in maquillage. Resplendent in red plastic sheen and buffed to within a fraction of an inch of their lives, not one toenail shows a blemish.

An Anecdotal Footnote

A short flashback to Paris, 1958 – 59, where I first met Linda Nochlin, already a formidable scholar and accomplished writer, who was soon to become a good friend.

At First Sight

The room leaned forward as Achetez des pommes came on the left screen. There was Linda Nochlin, with her carrot-red hair, asserting what was at the time an unheard-of premise: the anonymous 19th-century photograph of the woman dressed only in black boots and black stockings and holding a tray of apples just below her breasts, was intended for a male audience. Was Nochlin gripping the podium with both hands, demonstrating her own power as she is wont to do when lecturing, when she supplied proof for her hypothesis?

Linda Nochlin

In the January 1971 issue of ARTnews, Linda Nochlin rocked the art world by publishing an essay entitled, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”

Linda Nochlin

Our friendship of long standing has taken place in private meetings, public conferences, and email exchanges (we live on opposite coasts). Linda Nochlin and I relate on many levels—as art historians and poets, in our devotion to feminism, and in the history we have witnessed during the course of our long lives (we are now both in our eighties).

Linda Nochlin

I met Linda at Shirley Jaffe’s fourth-floor walk-up studio a long time ago, in Paris, with some women artists; she introduced us to feminism, which she brought with her from the US.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUL-AUG 2015

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