Skip to main content

Linda Nochlin papers, circa 1876

Biographical Note

Linda Nochlin (1931-2017) was a feminist art historian and professor at New York University Institute of Fine Arts in New York, New York. She is widely known for her essay first published in 1971, "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?," that explored the institutional systems in place for analyzing art history and their impacts on women artists. In 1976, Nochlin co-curated Women Artists: 1550-1950 alongside Ann Sutherland Harris at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and in 2007 she co-curated with Maura Reilly the Global Feminisms Exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. Both exhibitions are considered landmark exhibitions of women artists.
Nochlin was born in Brooklyn, New York. She attended the Brooklyn Ethical Culture School and Midwood High School before enrolling in Vassar College where she majored in philosophy with minors in Greek and art history. After graduating in 1951, she went on to earn a master's degree in English from Columbia University in 1952. In 1963, she earned her PhD in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts. Nochlin's PhD dissertation, "Gustave Courbet: A Study of Style and Society," marked the beginning of her lifelong study of the 19th-Century French artist Gustave Courbet.
Nochlin taught at Yale University, the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, and Vassar College. She was also a visiting professor at Columbia University, Hunter College, Stanford University, Williams College, and Yale University, and later became the Lila Acheson Wallace Professor Emerita of Modern Art at the Institute of Fine Arts.
Nochlin authored numerous art history books including Realism (1971), The Politics of Vision: Essays on Nineteenth-Century Art and Society (1989), Representing Women (1999), The Body in Pieces: The Fragment as a Metaphor of Modernity (1994), Bathers, Bodies, Beauty: The Visceral Eye (2006), Courbet (2007), and Misère: The Visual Representation of Misery in the 19th Century (2018).