Linda Nochlin

  • Robert Rosenblum

    A pioneering critic of the past fifty years and a revisionist scholar of the preceding two hundred, Artforum contributing editor Robert Rosenblum will be remembered for the stunning breadth of his erudition and taste. In the issue, a trio of his colleagues—and, above all, his friends—recall a protean figure whose love of art was matched only by his joie de vivre.

    LINDA NOCHLIN

    IT IS HARD not to be lighthearted when remembering Robert Rosenblum. Bob was himself one of those rare people who, though deeply serious, was never ponderous or solemn. His was a quintessentially blithe spirit. From the very

  • “Turner, Whistler, Monet”

    WITH ITS AMBITIOUS “TURNER, WHISTLER, Monet: Impressionist Visions” opening next month, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, in conjunction with the Réunion des Musées Nationaux and Tate Britain, joins recent curatorial attempts to reshuffle the deck of nineteenth-century art. Rather than conform to the monographic blockbuster or utilize neat categories like Romanticism, realism, Impressionism, or symbolism to provide shape and substance, these exhibitions seek out new relationships among works and artists that bridge temporal or national boundaries. Such was the case, for example, with “Crossing

  • FEMINISM & ART: NINE VIEWS

    HOW MIGHT WE ASSESS FEMINISM’S INITIAL IMPACTS ON ART, ITS SUBSEQUENT HISTORICIZATION, AND ITS CONTINUING INFLUENCE? ARTFORUM ASKED LINDA NOCHLIN, ANDREA FRASER, AMELIA JONES, DAN CAMERON, COLLIER SCHORR, JAN AVGIKOS, CATHERINE DE ZEGHER, ADRIAN PIPER, AND PEGGY PHELAN TO CONSIDER THIS QUESTION IN AN ONLINE ROUNDTABLE ASSEMBLED IN AUGUST. THEIR RESPONSES—REFINED BY THE PARTICIPANTS AND PRESENTED IN THE FOLLOWING PAGES—SUGGEST THAT FEMINISM AND FEMINIST DISCOURSES AS THEY HAVE FOUND EXPRESSION IN CONTEMPORARY ART ARE AMBIVALENT (“IN THE FULLEST SENSE OF THAT TERM,” AS PHELAN PUTS IT), MULTIFACETED, AND EVER EVOLVING.

    LINDA NOCHLIN

    As a participant in the women’s art movement of the late ’60s and early ’70s, I have decidedly mixed feelings about the historicization of feminism. It is difficult to see lived experience transformed into historical text. Things that seemed open and dynamic are now pinned down and displayed like butterflies in a case. Of course, there is also the tendency to idealize the past, to see the women’s art movement as totally united. This was not the case: Although all of us were for justice, equity, and a fair shake for women artists, critics, and academics, our views were extremely

  • PICTURES OF AN EXHIBITION: THE 50th VENICE BIENNALE

    Francesco Bonami’s 50th edition of the Venice Biennale—”Dreams and Conflicts: The Dictatorship of the Viewer”—delegated responsibility to nearly a dozen curators and, ultimately, to the viewers themselves, pointedly bringing an end to the monolithic “Grand Show” of yesteryear, for better or (as the consensus seemingly would have it) for worse. And the unseasonable weather didn’t help. At June’s heat wave–plagued vernissage, many openly wondered whether it was the lack of inspiration or rather the perspiration that was dampening their enthusiasm. We invited three regular contributors—art historian

  • Christian Schad

    Christian Schad’s self-portrait of 1927, included in curators Jill Lloyd and Michael Peppiatt’s large retrospective of the artist’s work at the Neue Galerie in New York, is a haunting image that—partly because of the picture surface’s seductive smoothness and partly due to the subject matter’s dreamlike perversity—persists in the mind’s eye long after the actual experience of viewing the painting. The artist sits in the foreground with uneasy authority. Behind him lies one of the century’s scariest female nudes, in harsh profile, dark-haired, hawk-nosed, her facial scar providing a kind of slant

  • the best books of the year

    Linda Nochlin

    Two books very different in approach and subject matter stand out this year: Richard Meyer’s Outlaw Representation: Censorship and Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century American Art (Oxford University Press) and Georges Didi-Huberman’s L’Image survivante: Histoire de l’art et temps des fantômes selon Aby Warburg (Editions de Minuit). Meyer deftly combines a close reading of individual works and intelligent social and political synthesis. Outlaw Representation not only sheds light on such important figures as Paul Cadmus, Andy Warhol, and Robert Mapplethorpe but demonstrates the remarkable

  • PLATFORM MUSE: Documenta11

    Every five years the contemporary-art community descends on the small Hessian city of Kassel to experience Documenta, the exhibition whose art-world weight is often matched by its propensity for the big statement. This summer’s installment, directed by Okwui Enwezor, has proved global in ambition—and globalist in contention. Artforum asked four contributors where Documenta11 succeeds and where it comes up short.

  • Linda Nochlin

    THE MOST STRIKING ASPECT OF DOCUMENTA11 IS THE PREDOMINANCE OF THE documentary mode, for want of a better word. The work of Bernd and Hilla Becher occupies a central place in the genealogy of this sensibility—and in the space of the Kulturbahnhof itself. Their photographs constitute some of the earliest “documentation” (pace August Sander, the father of them all) that aspires to something beyond or different from conventional documentary, something which inevitably calls forth the idiom of art, conceptual or otherwise. In a recent Art in America interview with the Bechers, the crucial

  • “Mirroring Evil: Nazi Imagery/Recent Art”

    Despite the barrage of negative criticism that greeted “Mirroring Evil: Nazi Imagery/Recent Art” when it opened in mid-March—from hysterical outrage to self-satisfied dismissals of both the art and the ideas put forward—it is an uncommonly thoughtful if profoundly disturbing show. Like two other important recent exhibitions on the East Coast—the Gerhard Richter retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Barnett Newman retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, both of which in their own manner touched on questions raised in “Mirroring Evil”—the Jewish Museum exhibition

  • Reading 9-11-01

    IN THE DAYS immediately following the terrorist attacks of September 11, titles that promised answers in the face of the disaster threatened to keep retired General Electric CEO Jack Welch's straight-talking memoir out of the top slot on best-seller lists. Studies of the Taliban movement, Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization Al-Qaeda, and the ill-fated twin towers themselves predictably climbed the charts, but according to the New York Times, king of the hill was Nostradamus: At the online bookshop Amazon.com, three editions of the prophesies of the sixteenth-century mystic, into whose

  • The best books of 2000

    Linda Nochlin

    Molly Nesbit’s Their Common Sense (Black Dog Press) isn’t exactly an art book—it’s not exactly a book even, in the usual sense. But in the unusual sense, Nesbit’s tome is a marvelous document, swinging briskly between the teaching of mechanical drawing in French schools and the arcanery of Duchamp & Co. It begins in very big print with Antonin Proust’s proposal that all French schoolchildren learn to draw and ends with a memorable still from Pabst’s Joyless Streets. In between? Children’s drawings (not the cute, creative ones, but disciplined, drafting lesson productions), some

  • MATISSE AND PICASSO: A GENTLE RIVALRY

    As final preparations were underway for “Matisse and Picasso: A Gentle Rivalry,” which opens this month at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, art historian LINDA NOCHLIN met with the exhibition’s curator, YVE-ALAIN BOIS, and talked with him about his revisionist approach to the relationship between these two central modernist figures. By turns parodic, agonistic, even elegiac, the conversation Bois details unfolds as a series of nuanced moves and countermoves within the artworks themselves. Often seen as antipodal forces, the two artists emerge as necessary partners and foils, twin protagonists engaged in a mutually enabling dialogue that helped shape the narrative of modern painting.

    As the end of the twentieth century approaches, those grand old lions Picasso and Matisse, once seen as polar opposites within the narrative of modernist innovation, seem more and more like congenial creative companions. Perhaps it is today’s art-video, object, or installation oriented-that makes the two look sympathetically old-masterish, mythic remnants of a pre-abstract, painting-and-sculpture-centered tradition inherited from the nineteenth century. In short, Picasso and Matisse today seem more similar than either of them is to Robert Gober, or Janine Antoni, or Mona Hatoum, or for that

  • BEST OF THE ’90s: BOOKS

    Homi K. Bhabha: The times are out of joint, perhaps never more so than when we are seduced by that decade-end desire to say, One last time, what was the great work of the ’90s? The ’90s began in the late late ’80s with the big bang of The Satanic Verses, and the decade dribbles on with small arms sniping around an elephant-dung madonna. In between times, we realize how powerful is the appeal to religious orthodoxy; how insecure our sense of the secular; how fragile any idea of global cultural understanding; how the politics of art rarely lies in the artifice itself, but all around it, in the

  • Linda Nochlin

    1 Ellsworth Kelly (Guggenheim Museum, New York): Without a doubt the season’s most exciting show—pleasurable, demanding, and full of surprises. Lots of gorgeous color, tantalizing shapes, delicacy and dazzle. Then the surprising elegance of the small-scale drawings, the wit of the altered postcards. And the upward-and-onward setting of the Guggenheim seemed just right for this ascent toward the absolute.

    2 Georges Seurat (National Gallery, London): A really interesting show, especially if you are involved in the late nineteenth century, interested in the representation of the bather, and an

  • “Objects of Desire: The Modern Still Life”

    Still life. The very term brings a furtive tear to the eye—a tear of nostalgia, perhaps, for all that has disappeared from contemporary art in the way of illusionism, pleasure, and painterly virtuosity. Or perhaps it is the melancholy evoked by the words themselves, for “still life” suggests death or death-in-life, even more literally in the French version of the term, “nature morte” or dead nature.

    In traditional still life, the popular motif of the skull introduces the memento mori into the very fabric of the earthly delights on display. Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century specialists in the

  • Linda Nochlin

    COTTON DANDY

    L’INFORME: MODE D’EMPLOI” (The formless: a user’s manual), curated by Rosalind Krauss and Yve-Alain Bois at the Centre Georges Pompidou this past summer, was everything a show should be—intelligently organized, beautiful to look at, and original in conception. Challenging the conventional Modernist reading of twentieth-century art, “L’Informe,” and the set of anticategorical “operations” it established—horizontality, pulse, base materialism, and entropy—also inspired me to look at nineteenth-century vanguard art differently. For instance, seeing Piero Manzoni’s Achrome of 1962,

  • Francis Bacon

    On entering this major Francis Bacon retrospective, curated by David Sylvester one was immediately confronted by the memorably horrific Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, 1944. These weird sisters, phallic in inspiration, ambiguously maleficent in pose and identity, seem to have been inspired by the vengeful Eumenides who, in Aeschylus’ drama, pursued Orestes after Athens lost the Peloponnesian war. Writhing before a stark orange background, mouths either hardly visible or wide open in a vagina dentata–esque howl, these creatures are nevertheless oddly domesticated, more

  • Simon Schama’s Landscape and Memory

    Landscape and Memory, by Simon Schama. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995. 652 pages, 250 black and white and 45 color illustrations.

    ONCE, YEARS AGO, I got lost in the woods of New Milford, Connecticut. I had drifted away from a backyard party in search of Indian pipe flowers for my little daughter and lost the trail. It got darker and darker, and the more I tried to find my way out, the more I seemed to hem myself in: there were no guideposts, no markers, no signs of civilization anywhere. The land grew marshy; I had horrid visions of quicksand. Twisted trees and prickly bushes blocked my path

  • EXHIBITIONS

    DAVE HICKEY

    Make It New

    Bruce Nauman retrospective, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles: Bad news from the studio, but real news nevertheless. Twenty-five years of pieces, each of which seems to have arisen out of a condition of sudden panic—out of the terror of not knowing, of having forgotten, willfully, day after day, what art is and what an artist might do—of having forgotten, even, what an artist is. A fountain? A source of mystic truths? A cruel instructor? A tortured clown? We get one brutal, last-ditch guess after another, and the whole practice of “artmaking” is reinvented, again