PRINT March 1976




I admired immensely Carol Duncan’s temperate and subtle critique of Cindy Nemser’s Art Talk: Conversations with Twelve Women Artists (Artforum, October 1975). I was all the more perplexed, then, to discover that in reinterpreting the period of French painting covered by our exhibition (Artforum, December 1975)––1774–1830—she fell into exactly the same kind of ideological traps she had exposed in Ms. Nemser’s insistent confusion of the moral imperatives of the present with the data of the historical past.

Ms. Duncan writes, for instance, that in the paintings of historical themes executed between the 1770s and the 1790s, “Man (but not Woman) realizes his fullest, noblest potential.” This statement, perhaps of some limited use in combatting sexism in the 1970s, is nevertheless untrue for the historical decade in question. Here is some counter-evidence from the Paris Salons. In 1777,

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