Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? By Linda Nochlin
Whilst reading this article I experienced many emotions, beginning with the irritation due to the overly verbose introduction, seemed to me a thesis extended to show off ones vocabulary. Then insulted and a little taken aback by the obvious hostility toward men and an excuse to rant rather than a straightforward approach to cover the heart of the issue. To finally, once she did get down to “the brass tacks” excited, intrigued and enlightened by thoughts and ideas I had never considered before. I mourned for the articles substance which had been nearly drowned out by the initial hate filled tirade.
This being said, I will attempt ...view middle of the document...
2. What steps have been taken to keep women out of the Art profession?
Several obstacles have held women back in the pursuit of professional careers in Art. From a lack of encouragement from their families, to social conditioning for women not to invest her time into one activity and to pursue excellence in it.
“In Mrs. Ellis's widely read The Family Monitor and Domestic Guide, published before the middle of the 19th century, a book of advice popular both in the United States and in England, women were warned against the snare of trying too hard to excel in any one thing:” (Nochlin)
Indeed we see this sort of mindset was even recorded in popular literature in Jane Austens Pride and Prejudice during Caroline Bingleys speech on what it meant to be the perfect woman of the age. That while she may be learned, she must not attach herself to one thing in particular. Such as is highlighted by Lizzys “extensive reading” a pastime sneered at by the Miss Bingley during the scene.
“Oh! certainly," cried his faithful assistant, "no woman can be really esteemed accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half-deserved." (Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Ch 8)
Another important impediment was a woman was expected to choose a family or a career, she could not have both. Where as her male professional counterparts did not have to choose between intimacy and their careers women did not have such freedom.
“One has only to think of Delacroix, Courbet, Degas, van Gogh, and Toulouse-Lautrec as examples of great artists who gave up the distractions and obligations of family life, at least in part, so that they could pursue their artistic careers more singlemindedly. Yet none of them was automatically denied the pleasure of sex or companoinship on account of this choice. Nor did they ever conceive that they had sacrificed their manhood-or their sexual role on account of their single mindedness in achieving professional fulfillment.” (Nochlin)
3. Have their been any women in history who have been considered masters?
The article discusses the life and views of Rosa Bonheur, a woman who was considered a master artist of her time but only because during the age in which she lived and painted there was little focus on masterworks containing human figures. During the French Revolution and its aftermath, the demand for large paintings filled with noble figures was not sought after and more domestic scenes, such as farms and landscapes was in vogue. This was Rosa’s forte.
However, there have been very talented women throughout history whose work was on par with many art masters such as the Caravaggio inspired Roman artist Artemisia Gentileschi. She was a...