Linda Nochlin, professor of art history at Vassar College, recently published a major text on realism (Penguin). Her specialty is Courbet and nineteenth century French art, but she has written on a range of subjects from Grunewald to modern art.

Why have there been no great women artists? The ques- tion is crucial, not merely to women, and not only for social or ethical reasons, but for purely intellectual ones as well. If, as John Stuart Mill so rightly suggested, wetend to accept whatever is as “natural,” in the realm of academic investigation as it is in our social arrangements: the white Western male viewpoint, unconsciously accepted as the viewpoint of the art historian, is proving to be inadequate. At a moment when all disciplines are becoming more self-conscious—more aware of the nature of their presuppositions as exhibited in their own languages and structures—the current uncritical acceptance of “what is” as “natural” may be intellectually fatal.

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