A Life Of Learning Linda Nochlin

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CHARLES HOMER HASKINSPRIZE LECTURE FOR 2007A Life of LearningLinda NochlinACLS OCCASIONAL PAPER, No.ACLS64

The 2007 Charles Homer Haskins Prize Lecture waspresented at the ACLS Annual Meeting in Montreal,Quebec, Canada on May 11, 2007.Published in the United States of Americaby American Council of Learned Societies 2008 by Linda Nochlin

CONTENTSOn Charles Homer HaskinsivHaskins Prize LecturersvBrief Biography ofLinda NochlinviIntroductionby Pauline YuixA Life of Learningby Linda Nochlin1Figures23

ON CHARLES HOMER HASKINSCharles Homer Haskins (1870-1937), for whom the ACLS lectureseries is named, was the first chairman of the American Councilof Learned Societies, from 1920 to 1926. He began his teachingcareer at the Johns Hopkins University, where he received theB.A. degree in 1887, and the Ph.D. in 1890. He later taught at theUniversity of Wisconsin and at Harvard, where he was HenryCharles Lea Professor of Medieval History at the time of hisretirement in 1931, and dean of the Graduate School of Arts andSciences from 1908 to 1924. He served as president of the AmericanHistorical Association in 1922, and was a founder and the secondpresident of the Medieval Academy of America (1926).A great American teacher, Charles Homer Haskins alsodid much to establish the reputation of American scholarshipabroad. His distinction was recognized in honorary degrees fromStrasbourg, Padua, Manchester, Paris, Louvain, Caen, Harvard,Wisconsin, and Allegheny College, where in 1883 he had begunhis higher education at the age of 13.iv

HASKINS PRIZE 519841983Linda NochlinMartin E. MartyGerda LernerPeter GayPeter BrownHenry A. MillonHelen VendlerGeoffrey HartmanClifford GeertzYi-Fu TuanNatalie Zemon DavisRobert William FogelPhyllis Pray BoberRobert K. MertonAnnemarie SchimmelDonald W. MeinigMilton BabbitPaul Oskar KristellerJudith N. ShklarJohn Hope FranklinCarl E. SchorskeMilton V. AnastosLawrence StoneMary Rosamond HaasMaynard Mack

BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OFLINDA NOCHLINLinda Nochlin is currently the Lila Acheson Wallace Professorof Modern Art at the Institute of Fine Arts/New York University,where she earned her doctorate in Art History in 1963. Prior toassuming this position, she served as Professor of Art History andHumanities at Yale University, as Distinguished Professor of ArtHistory at the Graduate School and University Center of the CityUniversity of New York and as the Mary Conover Mellon Professorof Art History at Vassar College, her undergraduate alma mater.She is known widely for her work on Gustave Courbet-a painterof interest to her since embarking on her doctoral dissertation-aswell as for her seminal publications on Realism, Impressionismand Post-Impressionism, and, of course, for her ground-breakingwork to advance the cause of women artists, beginning as earlyas 1971 with her article, "Why Have There Been No Great WomenArtists?" Sparking a major development in art history and criticism, that early work led to the 1976 exhibition, Women Artists:1550-1950, which she curated with Anne Sutherland Harris for theLos Angeles County Museum of Art; the show was accompaniedby the catalogue of the same title co-authored by both scholars.Linda Nochlin has written numerous books and articlesfocusing attention on social and political issues revealed in thework of artists, both male and female, from the modernist periodto the present day. Her books Representing Women; The Body inPieces; Women, Art, and Power; and The Politics of Vision havedirected and expanded the dialogue among art historians on thenature of viewing and have broadened the scope of our interpretation of the role of art and artists in society. Throughout herdistinguished career, Nochlin has been the recipient of numerous honors, including the Frank Jewett Mather Prize for CriticalWriting, given by the College Art Association (1977). In 1984-85,she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. She has also re-vi

ceived a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship andwas named Scholar of the Year by the New York State Council onthe Humanities (1997). Nochlin has received honorary doctoratesfrom Colgate University, the Massachusetts College of Art, theParsons School of Design and Harvard University. In 1999, shewas granted a Resident Fellowship at the Rockefeller Study andConference Center, Bellagio, Italy. That year, she delivered theOxford Lectures at Wellesley College on modern portraiture. In2006, she received one of the three Clark Prizes for Excellence inArt Writing.Thirty years after raising the question, Nochlin returnedto the issue of women artists when she presented her paper, "WhyHave There Been No Great Women Artists? Thirty Years Later,"as part of a conference at Princeton University entitled "WomenArtists at the Millennium." In 2002, she conducted a seminar on"Realism, Then and Now" at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin.In the spring of 2004, Nochlin delivered the Norton Lecturesat Harvard University and gave the keynote address, "Speaking ofPictures," at the American Academy of Arts and Letters AnnualInduction and Award Ceremony.Linda Nochlin's renown within the intellectual, art historical community is international in scope. She has been invited toaddress scholarly audiences in Amsterdam, Paris, London, Berlin,Ottawa and Hong Kong; her writings have been published innumerous languages; she has presented lectures at universitiesand museums throughout the country and the world on a widerange of artists and subjects. Nochlin has engaged and collaborated with students, as well as her fellow scholars in the field."Self and History: A Symposium in Honor of Linda Nochlin" waspresented at New York University in April of 1999 to acknowledgeher contributions to her students and to the scholarship on modernart history.Linda Nochlin is a contributing editor of Art in America.She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences andof New York University's Institute for the Humanities as well asthe American Philosophical Society.vii

At the time of the Haskins Prize Lecture, Nochlin wascurating, with Maura Reilly, an exhibition for the BrooklynMuseum entitled "NeoFeminism," consisting of work by contemporary women artists from around the world.viii

INTRODUCTIONIn the introduction to The Politics of Vision: Essays on NineteenthCentury Art and Society, a volume collecting only a selection ofher work, Professor Linda Nochlin writes: "History, including thehistory of one's own production, remains inert without the revivifying touch of the contingent and the circumstantial."Her observation resonates with the purpose of the HaskinsPrize Lecture. When John William Ward became President of theAmerican Council of Learned Societies in 1982, he sought to commemorate the ACLS tradition of active engagement in scholarshipand teaching of the highest quality with an annual lecture. Eachyear since, we have asked the lecturer:". to reflect on a lifetime of work as a scholar, onthe motives, the chance determinations, the satisfactions (and the dissatisfactions) of the life of learning, toexplore through one's own life the larger, institutionallife of scholarship. We do not wish the speaker to present the products of one's own scholarly research, butrather to share with other scholars the personal processof a particular lifetime of learning."This lecture is the twenty-fifth in this series, which isnamed for Charles Homer Haskins, the first chairman of ACLS. Itis the responsibility of the Executive Committee of the Delegatesof ACLS to nominate each year's Haskins lecturer. After searching deliberations, the delegates fixed firmly and enthusiasticallyon Professor Nochlin as a scholar whose many accomplishmentsover a distinguished career tangibly express the values that weshare. The active participle in the title of this lecture series, "ALife of Learning," is a splendid reminder that the excitement andpleasures of scholarship lie in the process of ongoing investigation and discovery.ix

Professor Nochlin's learning changed our knowing. Byposing the deceptively simple question "Why are there no greatwomen artists?" she effected a critical turn in the long arc of herdiscipline, opening up the social history of art.She is renowned as a welcoming, generous, and supportive mentor. Not surprisingly, her honors include numerous teaching awards, such as that of the College Art Association. She alsohas given dedicated service to the public humanities and to civicart as a member of the New York State Council for the Humanitiesand as a member of public art commissions. Her work has beenpublished not only in scholarly journals, but in publications witha wider social reach, such as House and Garden.In the Politics of Vision, Professor Nochlin also writes:"[E]very art-historical bildungsroman is, in microcosm, a socialhistory of art history, and deserves examination, however cursory,in terms of the paradigms within which, or-more rarely-againstwhich, new art-historical writing is inevitably formulated."Linda Nochlin transcended and transformed the receivedparadigms of her field. We are fortunate that she has sketched forus her own bildungsroman.-Pauline Yu, PresidentAmerican Council of Learned Societies

LINDA NOCHLINNot Too Far from Brooklyn:Growing Up,Growing Old with ArtMy first memories are sounds: the clip-clopping of the milkman'shorse on pavement early in the morning, delivering the WalkerGordon certified milk to our apartment doorstep, and the reiterated clanging of the trolley cars that framed our block of CrownStreet between Nostrand and Rogers Avenues. Then there were thestreet cries: the "I cash, buy old does" of the I Cash Clothes Manand the ringing of the perambulating knife sharpener. Sometimes,to my delight, there was the hurdy-gurdy music of the travelingmerry-go-round beneath my windows-not as exciting as the fullscale version in Coney Island but pleasurable nevertheless. Thesenoise memories are not just there for picturesque effect but toindicate that I was born much closer to the nineteenth century thanto the twenty-first. Although I do not live in the house in which Iwas born, as does the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, I have neverlived more than 75 miles away from where I was born and grewup. Of course I have traveled-Paris is a second home, Londonnot far behind. But the furthest away I have lived in the UnitedStates, outside of a brief childhood stay in Tucson and somewinters in Miami Beach (surely a Brooklyn outpost back then),is Poughkeepsie, New York, where I attended and then taught formany years at Vassar College. I received my M.A. in seventeenthcentury English literature from Columbia, and my doctorate fromthe NYU Institute of Fine Arts, where I now teach. None of theseinstitutions is very far from Brooklyn.

I grew up in a secular, leftist, intellectual Jewish family,like so many in the neighborhood. Intellectual achievement,creation or appreciation of the arts-literature, music, painting,dance-were considered the highest goals, along with socialjustice. I understood that before I understood anything else.Making money as a goal in life was not looked on with favor,although it was convenient. Certainly no one ever talked aboutmoney in my presence. That may have been because we had it,even during the Depression. One grandfather, the literary one,was an obstetrician/gynecologist; the other, an opera-lover andinveterate letter-writer to the Times and the Miami Herald, wasthe founder and owner of Weinberg News, which delivered allthe newspapers in Brooklyn and some in Manhattan. There wasa house at the beach with two boats, the Linda I and the LindaII. There were maids, laundresses, and, for my grandparents, a"couple" to do the housework. One uncle went to Harvard, theother to Dartmouth, and both my father and my uncle attended thePeddie School, where they were definitely a tiny Jewish minority,and from which my father was bounced, probably for drinking.Far from being a source of alienation, Jewishness was auniversal identity in our part of Crown Heights. Everyone we knewwas Jewish, mostly secular and assimilated, though some were"old-fashioned" (kosher and religious), black-hatted men whommy elegant, modernist grandfather clearly looked down on. Inever entered a Jewish temple before attending, at the age of 13, acousin's very reformed bar mitzvah in Forest Hills, which I foundboring and slightly embarrassing. I still find the sight of people,of whatever denomination, praying in public-on their knees,especially-vaguely disturbing. Yet the old country, oppression,the shtetl, Yiddish-the language, the theater, the jokes-and thetragic fate of the Jews in Europe were always in the background,and ultimately, during the war, in the foreground, if one lookedfor them. I didn't know that Jews were different or what it meantto be a Jew until I went to Vassar; I experienced this more deeplyon my first trip abroad at 17, when I wrote "At Merton College,Oxford,"' a poem exploring my discovery of Jewish identity, whichwas published in Commentary in winter 1950.

Reading was the drug of choice in my childhood circleand I must emphasize the overwhelming importance of the book,mainly the novel, in my intellectual and emotional formation.A "play date" consisted of two little girls curled up in adjacentarmchairs, reading. I often stayed up all night reading a book:Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens or Kristin Lavransdatter orBuddenbrooks or Dombey and Son. I read with fascination Dr.Faustus, which explained artistic genius as a rare disease afflicting the normal human herd. This seemed a rational explanationto me, perhaps because, whether consciously or not, I somehowknew that my unquenchable thirst for the products of this geniushad some of the same excessive, but by no means completelyinimical, disease-like qualities and marked me as chosen. Myreading, then, was out of control, something I had to do wheneverpossible and sometimes when it really wasn't. I ate dinner withFreud's Interpretationof Dreams in my lap, unconvincingly veiledby my grandmother's vast white linen napkin. I listened to JackBenny or Fred Allen on the radio-a family requirement-to "restmy eyes" with the book on my lap still, feverishly discoveringwhy, in a dream, of course, prostitutes had to wear blue stonesin their ears.Did my friend Alice really call me at 2 a.m. so that I couldtranslate the French sentences exchanged by Clavdia Chauchatand Hans Castorp in The Magic Mountain, which we were readingsimultaneously with flashlights in our own bedrooms? I hadalready started French and she was taking Latin. Thus we "did"The Magic Mountain at the age of 12 in about a day of continuous reading. The book, like many others I read before there wastoo much to interfere with its total absorption, is seared into mybrain. I still imagine that I remember parts of it perfectly.But how could you understand The Magic Mountain at12, one might reasonably ask? I understood everything; I skippednothing. Everything in the book was of equal, passionate, undeviating interest. Yes, I understood everything, and better thanI would if I read it today for the first time, because back thenI knew nothing of life that would interfere with the pure literary matter, the transparent narrative provided by the text. In the

absence of worldly experience-of love, of illness, of Europeanhistory, of philosophy-the text and the act of reading the textwere all there were. Thus I understood, or rather, participatedin Clavdia and Hans's love affair and its ironies far better than Iwould have if I had ever had any love affairs of my own. I wouldhave projected my own experience of love on to the text if I hadever loved; this way I understood it purely, without the corruption offered by a "personal" view.The same was true of the great Naphta-Settembrini debateat the end of the book, which I drank in with feverish intensity. Iknew what they were arguing about: it seemed perfectly clear, aperfect opposition. Unburdened by the discourses of either nineteenth-century liberalism or Nietzschean conservatism, I couldnevertheless tell that the stakes in this game were high, the intellectual duel world-class.I went on to read all of Mann but the Joseph series, picking the books one by one off the shelves of the Brooklyn PublicLibrary at Grand Army Plaza: Lotte in Weimar, Buddenbrooks(twice), Tonio Kroger (which I desired to be part of so much thatI drew Tonio, lying on a chaise longue in a shadowy Biedermeiersetting, surrounded by books, holding a drooping rose in hisascetic fingers). Mann's short stories were particular favoritesof my mothers, especially "Disorder and Early Sorrow," with itsspecial view of disrupted childhood. My mother liked any fictionthat claimed the child's point of view: when I had the flu at eightyears old, she read to me the opening passages of Portraitof theArtist, in which Joyce's hero listens to animal noises. She alsointroduced me to the two Katherines: Katherine Ann Porter's PaleHorse, Pale Rider and Katherine Mansfield's "At the Bay," both ofwhich were child-centered. Mann's "The Blood of the Walsungs"was my own particular favorite; it was so dark and seductive,velvety in its literary texture: I certainly knew of Siegmund andSieglinde as a pair of infinitely sophisticated, sleek, dark-hairedJewish twins in Weimar Germany before I knew them as Wagnerian characters. I don't think I read Death in Venice until a littlelater: it is a pity for the book is a climax, a kind of allegory ofideas of childhood and authorship, and the terrible and immense4

yearning to possess the unpossessable world of the text that filledme in those days. I am sure I would have made a drawing ofTadzio if I had read Death in Venice early enough.My grandfather steered me towards the Russians: Gogol,Tolstoy, Dostoievsky of course, but also Ivan Bunin, Chekov,Turgenieff-SpringFloods and Fathersand Sons. But he was eclectic in his tastes, ranging from Lord Dunsany to James Farrell toStefan Zweig to dramatists like O'Neill and Ibsen. Knut Hamsonwas a particular favorite of both my grandfather and his bohemian Yiddish writer friend, Nahum Yeud, who later turned up,much to my surprise, as a character in Henry Miller's Tropic ofCancer. At 13 and 14, I discussed books with them on an equalbasis; I had read them, after all, and had my opinions on plotsand characters, so why not?I somehow thought of literature as foreign, not partof my Brooklyn daily life. Being English or French seemed anunfair advantage of those literary peers: Jules Romain's Parisianlyciens in their closed secret world of intellect, politics andintrigue filled me with jealously, as did Elizabeth Bowen's Deathof the Heart, which featured a kid like me in such interesting,grown-up circumstances. How could she be so lucky-andEnglish to boot? (To be English was the height of unattainabledesirability.) Gide's Counterfeiters was a paradigm of everythingof which I felt myself deprived: evil, refinement, self-consciousness, and self-confidence.So Delmore Schwartz came as a revelation: as I readGenesis, his long 1942 bildungsroman in prose and verse, a senseof my own identity came into being along with that of the younghero (and surrogate for the author) Hershey Green, who was aJewish kid like myself with a mind nourished by poetry andfiction like my own. Schwartz's style, deliberately shifting backand forth between formal diction and colloquial speech, becamea characteristic of my own verse style. Even the incongruity ofthe names in his work struck a sympathetic chord-above all,Shenandoah Fish, hero of the verse play, Shenandoah. How likeit was to Delmore Schwartz's own name-half Anglo, half echt

Jewish-and my name, Linda Weinberg. Suddenly, I could talk ofthe matibre de Brooklyn, my home, as though it were the stuff ofenchanted London or Paris or Moscow-it too coul

1550-1950, which she curated with Anne Sutherland Harris for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the show was accompanied by the catalogue of the same title co-authored by both scholars. Linda Nochlin has written numerous books and articles focusing attention on social and political issues revealed in the work of artists, both male and female, from the modernist period to the present day .

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