Linda Nochlin

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Linda Nochlin
Born (1931-01-30) January 30, 1931 (age 86)
New York City, United States
Education Vassar College
Columbia University
New York University
Occupation Art historian

Linda Nochlin (née Weinberg; born January 30, 1931) is an American art historian, Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Modern Art at New York University Institute of Fine Arts,[1] and writer. A prominent feminist art historian, she is well known for her pioneering 1971 article "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?".[2]

Early Life and Education[edit]

Linda Weinberg was born the daughter of Jules Weinberg and Elka Heller (Weinberg) in Brooklyn, New York.[3] She attended Brooklyn Ethical Cultural School, a progressive grammar school.[4] She received her B.A. in Philosophy from Vassar College in 1951, her M.A. in English from Columbia University in 1952, and her Ph.D in the history of art from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University in 1963.

Academic career[edit]

After working in the art history departments at Yale University, the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (with Rosalind Krauss), and Vassar College, Nochlin took a position at the Institute of Fine Arts, where she taught until retiring in 2013.[5] In 2000, Self and History: A Tribute to Linda Nochlin was published, an anthology of essays developing themes that Nochlin has worked on throughout her career.

Her critical attention has been drawn to investigating the ways in which gender affects the creation and apprehension of art, as evidenced by her 1994 essay "Issues of Gender in Cassatt and Eakins".[6] Besides feminist art history, she is best known for her work on Realism, specifically on Gustave Courbet.

Complementing her career as an academic, she serves on the Art Advisory Council of the International Foundation for Art Research.[7]

Nochlin was the co-curator of a number of landmark exhibitions exploring the history and achievements of female artists.

Feminist Art History and Women in Art[edit]

In 1971, ArtNews published Nochlin's essay "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?" in which she explores the many assumptions embedded in the title's question. For example, she considers the very nature of art along with the reasons why the notion of artistic genius has been reserved for male geniuses such as Michelangelo. Nochlin argues that significant societal barriers have prevented women from pursuing art, including restrictions on educating women in art academies and "the entire romantic, elitist, individual-glorifying, and monograph-producing substructure upon which the profession of art history is based ".[2] The thirty-year anniversary of Nochlin's ground-breaking inquiry informed a conference at Princeton University in 2001. The book associated with the conference, "Women artists at the Millennium", includes Nochlin's essay ""Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?" Thirty Years After". In the conference and in the book, art historians addressed the innovative work of such figures as Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse, Francesca Woodman, Carrie Mae Weems and Mona Hatoum in the light of the legacies of thirty years of feminist art history, appeared in 2006.

In her 1994 essay "Starting from Scratch: The Beginnings of Feminist Art History," Nochlin reflected on her awakening as a feminist and its impact on her scholarship and teaching: "In 1969, three major events occurred in my life: I had a baby, I became a feminist, and I organized the first class in Women and Art at Vassar College."[8]

Nochlin deconstructs art history by identifying and questioning methodological presuppositions.[9] Across an arc of decades, she has been an advocate for "art historians who investigate the work before their eyes while focusing on its subject matter, informed by a sensitivity to its feminist spirit."[10]


The Snake Charmer

Following Edward Said's influential 1978 book, Orientalism, Nochlin was one of the first art historians to apply theories of Orientalism to the study of art history, specifically in her 1983 paper, "The Imaginary Orient."[11][12] Her key assertion is that Orientalism must be seen from the point-of-view of 'the particular power structure in which these works came into being,"[13] in this case, 19th century French colonialism. Nochlin focuses primarily on the 19th century French artists Jean-Leon Gérôme and Eugène Delacroix, who both depicted 'orientalist' themes in their work, including, respectively, The Snake Charmer and The Death of Sardanapalus. In Gérôme's "The Snake Charmer," from the late 1860s, Nochlin describes how Gérôme created a sense of verisimilitude not only in how he made the painting—by rendering the scene with such realistic precision one almost forgets a painter painted it—but in capturing the most minute details, such as meticulously painted tiles.[14] As a result, the painting appears to be documentary evidence of life in the Ottoman court while, according to Nochlin, it is in fact a Westerner's vision of a mysterious world. In Delacroix's "The Death of Sardanapalus" from 1827, Nochlin argues the artist uses Orientalism to explore overt erotic and violent themes that may not necessarily reflect France's cultural hegemony but rather the chauvinism and misogyny of early 19th century French society.[15]

Nochlin says it is often what is not seen or shown that is equally telling: No Europeans, no sense of contemporary events or contemporary society. This enhances the sense of a place trapped in time.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Nochlin has married twice. First, in 1953 she married Philip H. Nochlin, an assistant professor of Philosophy at Vassar, who died seven years later. She then married Richard Pommer, an architectural historian, in 1968.[4] Nochlin has two daughters: Jessica, with Philip Nochlin,[16] and Daisy, with Richard Pommer, who was depicted with Nochlin by the artist Alice Neel in 1973.[17]


Selected publications[edit]

Nochlin's published writings encompass 156 works in 280 publications in 12 languages and 20,393 library holdings.[19]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Nochlin, Linda. "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?" ARTnews January 1971: 22-39, 67-71.
  3. ^ Chinese University of Hong Kong, Linda Nochlin
  4. ^ a b "Nochlin, Linda née Weinberg". Dictionary of Art Historians. Retrieved 26 June 2015. 
  5. ^ Pierce, Richard (2007-01-29). "CAA Names Linda Nochlin 2007 Distinguished Scholar". NYU Today. Retrieved 2007-02-12. 
  6. ^ Nochlin, Linda. (1994). "Issues of Gender in Cassatt and Eakins" in Nineteenth Century Art: A Critical History, pp. 255-273.
  7. ^ "About IFAR". International Foundation for Art Research. 
  8. ^ Broude, edited by Norma; al.], Mary D. Garrard ; contributors, Judith K. Brodsky ... [et (1996). The power of feminist art : the American movement of the 1970s, history and impact. New York: H.N. Abrams. p. 130. ISBN 0810926598. 
  9. ^ Nochlin, Linda. (1999). "Memoirs of an Ad Hoc Art Historian" in Representing Women, pp. 6-33.
  10. ^ "Book Overview," Representing Women.
  11. ^ Inankur,, Zeynep (2011). The Poetics and Politics of Place Ottoman Istanbul and British Orientalism. Istanbul: Pera Museum Publications. p. 66. 
  12. ^ Elmarsafy, Ziad (2013). Debating Orientalism. UK: Palgrave Macmillan UK. p. 184. 
  13. ^ Nochlin, Linda (1989). The Politics of Vision: Essays on Nineteenth-Century Art and Society. Harper & Row. p. 34. 
  14. ^ Nochlin, Linda (1989). The Politics of Vision: Essays on Nineteenth-Century Art and Society. Harper and Row. pp. 37–38. 
  15. ^ a b Nochlin, Linda (1989). The Politics of Vision: Essays on Nineteenth-Century Art and Society. New York City: Harper and Row. pp. 35–36. 
  16. ^ "Miss Nochlin Plans Wedding in August". The New York Times. April 19, 1981. Retrieved 26 June 2015. 
  17. ^ "Linda Nochlin and Daisy | Museum of Fine Arts, Boston". Linda Nochlin and Daisy. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Retrieved 26 June 2015. 
  18. ^ "Moore College of Art & Design – Visionary Woman Awards Gala". Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  19. ^ WorldCat Identities: Linda Nochlin


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