Artists and enough

Art beyond the genre.

There is no need for numbers or particular demonstrations to say that the history of art - art in the most side of the term of the term - counts mainly male artists. It's a fact. Just think of any of our school text, from the history of art to literature (but the field could expand) to realize that most of the names that jump to the eye, if not everyone, are names of men. Whites. This is not the usual complaint of the male-bianco-Etero-Cis that has monopolized a sector of our society, and of course-beyond personal tastes-the names that are written with nickened characters in those books is legitimate that they are there , but, after all, our point of view is actually distorted by a white patriarchal culture (of the male-bianco-Etero-Cis etc.). We fell* again. Excuse me.

Of course, the fact that more the males consecrated in the Olympus of our artistic history are not means that women did not know how to do it; So why weren't there great women's artists? It is the question that had asked himself, in unsuspected times, the art historian Linda Nochlin in his perhaps more famous essay, Why Have There No Great Women Artists?, Published in the magazine "ArtNews" in 1971. Nochlin writes in times , the seventies, in which feminist theory took its first steps (after the early twentieth century in the early twentieth century), and deconstructs the very concept of "artistic genius" in an interesting way, too based on social and institutional structures severely closed within precise patterns , who have contributed to the construction of misogin social prejudices that are difficult to overcome (women cannot make art, in a nutshell). Not only that: until the beginning of the twentieth century, artistic education was reserved exclusively for male students, thus creating a remarkable gender-gap in individual training and artistic success. In short, the woman, and we know it well, was educated for anything else: to be a mother, a gentleman, the angel of the hearth. Certainly not to afford such ambitions. In a nutshell, Nochlin tries to go beyond the concept of work of art as a whole individual daughter of the genius - rather romantic and dated idea, in fact - and interprets it rather as deeply determined by social structures and institutions ( The male academies, the canon, male). In such a condition, the role of the woman-artist was destined to disappear in that same male and patriarchal society that for centuries, and partly still today, everything devours and all approved, establishing the right and wrong, the beauty and the ugly .

Since the seventies, yes, things have changed: Linda Nochlin itself admits it, which in 2001, on the occasion of the thirty years of the essay, published an updated version where she reflects the changes and the road traveled since then, of the greater inclusiveness of the Art and emancipation of the work by the artist's genre.

The general problem, however, is of social perception: we are used to imagining the artist - the painter, the writer, the musician - as to a man, and every time we interfacce with a woman's artist we am amazed, concentrating on the the fact that it is a woman, and not on the work of art itself. The artist becomes famous as such, less his work (the case of Frida Kahlo is rather emblematic). In literature it happened - but the perception is that it still happens - such a thing. The writer has always needed, in the eyes of the public, of a justification for writing. A particularly troubled personal story, a violence suffered: the work was traced back, even by critics, with pure testimony. The text is published, yes, but for a specific reason. When Sibilla Aleramo wrote a woman, published in 1906, literary criticism accepted him and recognized as an autobiographical testimony and, then, as a (proto) feminist reflection. The autobiography is there, it is true, and it has a great weight in the genesis of the work, just as there are the feminist reflections, but first of all that book is a novel, a work of art! The truth, then, is that we have always struggled, and in a certain sense we still struggle, to accept that a woman can be an artist, that his work is worth beyond the genre; And he is no longer commendable as a woman, because we also got tired of accepting the (all male) rhetoric of the good work done by a woman. As if to say, incredible!, Not only is it a good job, but a woman did it too! And all seasoned with the usual phrases of circumstance, appellations and childish epithets such as "the queen of the novel" or the like, because as far as they are pronounced in good faith they continue to diminish the work of the person, who has nothing to do with the genre. We accept, once and for all, the possibility of being artists, beyond any other implication, only artists. Artists and that's it.


Enrico Ponzio

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