And thank you for supporting the New York Arts Exchange
as we celebrate our 14th anniversary.
"Ten years ago, in Montreal, art historian Linda Nochlin delivered a lecture to the American Council of Learned Societies discussing the crucial role that art had played in her life. She spoke of visiting the Brooklyn Museum as a child, reading the great Russian novelists at the suggestion of her grandfather, and spending five days with the Isenheim Altarpiece in Colmar, France, 'writing about what I saw and felt, without scholarly constraint or rational limitation.'
'We live in contradiction: that is what becomes clearer and clearer to me as I get older,' Nochlin said in Montreal. 'I am, on the one hand, the most aesthetic of creatures: my appetite for high art is unappeasable.' At a recent Velázquez show, the 'miraculous squiggles of white-edged painted brocade close up' had put her and her 'feminist friends' in mind of Eva Hesse; Nochlin revealed that 'I try to practice Bach an hour a day, I write sonnets and odes for relaxation. The ballet and modern dance make life complete.' On the other hand, she added, 'I also drown myself in TV detective shows, and love nice clothes, playing with my cats, having silly fun with family or friends at dinner parties.'
'Indeed, more and more,' she continued, 'I feel myself to be many selves—a woman, a Jew, a scholar, a feminist, a mother and grandmother, a teacher, an athlete, a friend, a passionate devourer of printed matter not necessarily connected. I am more and more convinced that ‘inner life’ has no meaning for me: my life is exterior, lived on the surface of experience, devoted to the world and the things in it, for better or for worse'.”
Carrie Ricky in Hyperallergic offered this Nochlin quote from her 1994 essay "Starting from Scratch": “In 1969 and the years that followed,” she wrote, “the intersection of myself and history was of a different order. It was no mere passive conjunction of events that united me to the history of that year and the ones that followed, but active engagement and participation, a sense that I, along with many other politicized, and yes, liberated, women, were actually intervening in the historical process and changing history itself: the history of art, of culture, and of institutions, and of consciousness.”
I can only add, with sadness in my heart that it has come to this day to have to say anything at all about the passing of Professor Nochlin: we will miss you, Linda. Miss bumping into you at the museums and galleries. Miss splurging on lunch at the Russian Tea Room or downing rakija at Kafana in the East Village. Miss the hugs. Miss the encouragement. This week, New York and Paris have lost their glow without you.
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*Beth S. Gersh-Nesic, "Portrait as Performance: The Theater of the Self in Kathleen Gilje's Series of Curators, Critics and Connoisseurs," in Breaking New Ground in Art History: A Festschrift in Honor of Alicia Craig Faxon, edited by Margaret A. Hanni (New Academia Publishing, 2014).