Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?

In doing some research/writing I came across this (evidently famous) 1971 essay by Linda Nochlin (feminist art historian/theorist) entitled "why have there been no great women artists?". For Nochlin, the question itself is a problem:
The question "Why have there been no great women artists?" is simply the top tenth of an iceberg of misinterpretation and misconception; beneath lies a vast dark bulk of shaky idees recues about the nature of art and its situational concomitants, about the nature of human abilities in general and of human excellence in particular, and the role that the social order plays in all of this.
Once I'm through reading it, I'll post a little something on it, but I thought I'd pass it along to any who are interested.

As I understand the main argument, Nochlin is hostile (as am I) to the entire notion of a "genius" as it has been traditionally understood in history writ large. In fact, this notion is a product of the late 18th century, and took off in the 19th, when Romantic theorists talked about a (gendered, male) person as a "fountainhead" of creation... someone unencumbered by history and society... reliant on nobody but themselves, who creates "great" things.

1 comment:

fwoan said...

I'd love to hear more on your ideas about the notion of "genius".