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Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?

Linda Nochlin, Catherine Grant


The 50th anniversary edition of the first major work of feminist art history, published together with the author’s reflections three decades on

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Linda Nochlin’s landmark essay heralded the dawn of a feminist history of art. It remains fundamental to any appreciation of art today. At once challenging and enlightening, it is never less than fully engaging, enticing the reader to question their own assumptions and to set off in new directions. Nochlin refuses to handle the question of why there have been no ‘great women artists’ on its own, corrupted, terms. Instead, she dismantles the very concept of greatness, unravelling the basic assumptions that created the male-centric genius in art. With unparalleled insight, Nochlin lays bare the acceptance of a white male viewpoint in art historical thought as not merely a moral failure, but an intellectual one.

In this stand-alone anniversary edition, Nochlin’s influential essay is published alongside its reappraisal, ‘Thirty Years After’. Written in an era of thriving feminist theory, as well as queer theory, race and postcolonial studies, ‘Thirty Years After’ is a striking reflection on the emergence of a whole new canon. With reference to Louise Bourgeois, Cindy Sherman and many more, Nochlin diagnoses the state of women and art with unmatched passion and precision. ‘Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?’ has become a rallying cry that resonates across culture and society. Nochlin’s message could not be more urgent: as she herself put it in 2015, ‘there is still a long way to go’.


'Brilliant ... Nochlin, when you agree with her and when you don’t, is unputdownable'
Jackie Wullschlager, Financial Times

'Passionate and provocative … helped to shatter the illusion that art history is universal and, in doing so, changed the field forever … We need to question conventional ways of thinking, writing, seeing, and challenge contradictions. These bold and candid essays provide readers with the tools to do so'
The Art Newspaper

'Linda Nochlin’s brilliant essay burst upon us in 1971, illuminating the half-empty landscape of art history and opening the way for new feminist thinking about women, art and society. Even as we now know that there have been many great women artists past and present, we still need Linda’s sharp analysis of social institutions, prejudice and systemic failure to foster the creativity of all women and learn from their unique and diverse perspectives'
Professor Griselda Pollock (University of Leeds), Laureate of the Holberg Prize for Arts and Humanities 2020

'Ground-breaking, written with wit and in a conversational style rarely seen in academic studies'

'As relevant as ever on the burning issues of gender, class and exclusion'

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Edition Type: 50th Anniversary Edition

Size: 17.6 x 11.0 cm

Extent: 112 pp

Illustrations: 14

Publication date: 14 January 2021

ISBN: 9780500023846

Contents List

Introduction by Catherine Grant • 1.Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? • 2.“Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” Thirty Years After • Notes • Further Reading

About the Author

Linda Nochlin (1931–2017), described in the Guardian as ‘a trailblazer to the end’, was Lila Acheson Wallace Professor Emerita of Modern Art at the New York University Institute of the Fine Arts. She wrote extensively on issues of gender in art history and on 19th-century Realism. Her numerous publications include Women, Art and Power; Representing Women; Courbet and Misère.