Mary Ann Caws

Remembering Linda Nochlin

 

Linda Nochlin, certainly the most influential writer ever on feminist art, was also a poet. Maura Reilly's edition of The Linda Nochlin Reader in 2015 includes the celebrated essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists” seen freshly, thirty years after, and in fact all Nochlin's essays help the reader to see freshly—not just feminist art but details and fragments, bathers and politics, Courbet and realism, and more. If Linda gave a talk, you were riveted. If she was part of a panel, that panel was interesting. If you held a private or a public dialogue with her, it was a treat particularly for you. If you met her in an exhibition or just after, what you had seen took on a deeper meaning during your conversation then and in retrospect. I felt especially blessed, in early times to go out to lunch with her at nearby places, and in later times, to take her a lunch, delicatessen style or Indian or vaguely Mediterranean or just whatever was convenient, and we would share it in her dining room, with a cat or not, depending on assorted tempers. Then we would gossip and chat on just about every topic conceivable, since she was eternally curious as well as knowledgeable about all varieties of experience, academic and other, all kinds of art, historical and contemporary. Our last conversation concerned Florine Stettheimer, just before we went rummaging through her boxes of her poetry. She would read a few aloud from various years, and then I had the immense privilege of choosing some to publish in the Brooklyn Rail—remarkably appropriate since Linda was born and bred in Brooklyn, and we chose together a poem from her thirteenth year about the Brooklyn Museum and its treasures she had lived among in her childhood.

Contributor

Mary Ann Caws

MARY ANN CAWS is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature, English, and French at the Graduate School of the City University of New York. Her many areas of interest in twentieth-century avant-garde literature and art include Surrealism, poets René Char and André Breton, Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury group, and artists Robert Motherwell, Joseph Cornell, and Pablo Picasso. Conceptually, one of her primary themes has been the relationship between image and text.

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