A professor once asked us:
“Why have there been no great women artists?”
Of course, she was trying to stir up trouble in hopes of a passionate, heated class discussion. The majority of my classmates in Women in Art, Literature and Music were, in fact, women. There were approximately two straight males who were the exception and blatantly admitted to only signing up for the course because they know absolutely nothing about women. Points for honesty, gentlemen.
We immediately felt defensive. The names of who we considered to be extraordinary female artists were being spat out by everyone in the room. Fiona Apple, Sofia Coppola, Audrey Hepburn, Sylvia Plath… I could easily list these women. But what was interesting was when she told us to pull out our iPods and look through the artists. The vast majority of musicians included in my own personal collection of music were men. And the same went for the rest of my classmates. And it isn’t because there aren’t women making music. Ladies are prominent in this artistic field and everyone knows it.
It turns out the question was the title of a piece written in 1971 by Linda Nochlin, a prominent presence in the studies of feminist art history.