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’.