Fifty years ago and in a ground-breaking essay, Linda Nochlin posed the question, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” The article investigated and strove to dismantle institutional obstacles that prevented women’s inclusion in the canon of art history. She used this provocative question not simply to rattle off lists of the women who managed to achieve notoriety but rather to critique “the whole erroneous intellectual substructure upon which the question…exists.” This exhibition hopes to echo Nochlin’s powerful message while providing a more expansive and inclusive perspective on the question of women artists in the twenty-first century.
Confronting Greatness features artworks from the late nineteenth century to today by artists who identify as women. These works tackle the presumptions and assumptions of subject matter and form produced through the myth of “greatness.” Through its all-women roster, the exhibition prompts viewers to question how we do or do not consider gender when looking at art and hopefully imparts future expectations of inclusion. We ask what strides have been made since Nochlin’s provocation as well as what new questions and intersections have arisen. Through an exploration of artistic identity, questions of medium, and gender roles and expectations, these artists communicate the multi-dimensional nature of womanhood and the importance of inclusion and diversity of voices.