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Literature around Women in Art History from the 19th to the 20th Century

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It has been an assumption of feminist students of art history that their task is nothing less that to rewrite the history of art (Broude & Norma 1982, 183). The question off course is, how is it done? What doe sit entail? However, steeping back for a while, what lead to this assumption, what is the underlying issue that current feminist female arty history student’s sort to conquer? Woman’s relations to artistic and social structures as been different to that of male artist, to discover the history of women and art is in part to account for the ways art history if written, exposing its underlying values, its assumptions, its silences and its prejudice (Parker &Pollock 2013, 3). Works by famous feminist historic writers such as Linda Nochlin, Pollock and Norma Broude, and others has been focused on the issue of women in art history. This paper aims at examining the literature around woman in art history form the 19th century through 20th century.
Feminist inquiry in art history began in 1971 with Linda Nochlin article “why have there no great women artist” (Peterson & Mathew 1987, 325), to answer her question she stress that, arts is not a free autonomous activity of a super endowed individual influenced by previous arts or social factors, but rather art is an integral element of structure and is determined by specific social institutions such as arts academies, patrons, patriarchal culture or the myth of the divine creator (Peterson &Mathew 1987, 325). Nonetheless, Parker and Pollock took a fundamentally new direction from earlier surveys, evaluating women’s historical and ideological positions in relations to art (). They accounted that the prescription of the Victorian writers insidiously prepared the ground for twentieth dis...


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...r than synthesizing other relevant accounts to effectively examine the feminist art history. Regardless, they both agree on the point that training and education can be accounted as one overarching factor that underpins the omission of female artist, as their work were not believed to be significant. Finally, the debate over greatness as established by Linda Nochlin exemplifies the nature of the issue raised among the first generation of feminist writers like Virginia Woolf (). Consequently, by emphasizing the primary role of institutional factors in determine artistic achievement, Nochlin challenges the myth of the great artist as one who is endowed with mysterious and ineffable quality called genius (). However, as Norma broude later pointed out, Nochlin did not question the authority or validity of the male-defined notion of greatness and artistic achievement ().



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