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Reading About Art



This art review originally aired on October 14, 2015.

I love reading about art. I love to read people's insights, debates, criticisms, and summations of the art world as they see it. Reading about art is almost as important as seeing the work. It sharpens one's thinking and deepens one's understanding. Regardless of what you read about, it will improve your experience when you are in front of the work itself.

One of my favorite writers at the moment is New York Magazine art critic Jerry Saltz. Saltz is always an entertaining read. He may not be everyone’s up of tea, but I love his conversant writing style, sense of humor, shrewd insights and his utter fearlessness when it comes to sharing what he thinks.

Recently, he wrote an article titled “Why Have There Been No Great Women Bad-Boy Artists? There Have Been, of Course. But the Art World Has Refused to Recognize Them.”

Saltz is riffing off of an iconic feminist essay by American art historian Linda Nochlin titled “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” Nochlin’s famous 1971 ARTnews essay challenges the white Western male viewpoint as the “accepted” perspective for art historians and artists – especially if they wanted to be taken seriously.

Saltz revisits the question, but with a twist, and begins to answer his own question in the title. His essay highlights the artistic trajectories of two Midwest women artists and the forces that deny them the recognition and robust careers that their work merits. Saltz’s invocation of Nochlin forces contemporary audiences to consider the power dynamics that still maintain women artists’ “outsider” standing.