In 1971, art historian Linda Nochlin wrote a provocative and now-infamous essay for ArtNews magazine: “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”
Richard Feigen, the famous gallery owner, had asked her that very question a year earlier, saying he wanted to show more women artists but “couldn’t find any good ones.”
Nochlin grappled with his remarks in an essay that became a seminal piece of feminist writing. It was published in ArtNews alongside response essays from eight influential women artists, including Elaine de Kooning and Louise Nevelson.
Of course there were many “great women artists” in 1971. And there are even more today.
But Nochlin’s question still nags, so much so that ArtNews has constructed its entire June issue around the inequalities facing women artists today.
The centerpiece is a call-to-arms citing grim statistics collated by art curator Maura Reilly on how women are under-represented in the art world: since 2007, 25 percent of solo exhibitions at London’s Tate Modern were of women artists; in 2012 at the Metropolitan Museum, only 4 percent of artists on display were women (fewer than in 1989); and in April 2015, 7 percent of works on view at MoMA were by women.
The numbers are discouraging, but are they also misleading?
Should we hold the Met to the same standards as MoMA, given that the Met’s collection goes back centuries, when cultural mores forbid women from becoming Michelangelos and da Vincis?
Buy your art supplies through Ebates. Discounts & referral perks for you and your fellow artists.
Women in Art 278 Magazine promotes female artists from across the globe. We believe in empowering women and reminding the world what we are made of and why supporting women in the arts matters. #art278
Join us. Donate to support artists. Purchase artwork from our artists. Any and all support is appreciated.