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Nancy Princenthal

is a New York-based art writer. She is the author of Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art (Thames & Hudson, 2015) and Unspeakable Acts: Women, Art, and Sexual Violence in the 1970s (Thames & Hudson, 2019).

Guest Critic

Prolixity and Painting

Verbal language has, arguably, gotten the jump on visuality.

In Conversation

with Nancy Princenthal

Breathtakingly beautiful, like all of Janet Biggs’s work, A Step on the Sun (2012) is also—again characteristically—a haunting account of several kinds of mortal danger.

Performance Anxiety

It is an odd, bracing time to be writing art criticism. I used to think of the job as starting with a dialogue between writer and artist, an exchange that might widen to engage other interested artists and writers (and, ideally, interested bystanders as well). It has always seemed like an enormous privilege, and also a huge stroke of luck, to participate in this kind of discussion.

In All Innocence: Women, Children and Others at the Venice Biennale

The dominance of women in this Biennale is unquestionably cause for jubilation. Its importance can’t be exaggerated. Similarly momentous is its embrace of artists from beyond the cosmopolitan centers of the West.

With Her Back to the World and Her Face to the Camera

There is a wonderful documentary called Agnes Martin: With My Back to the World, produced near the end of the artist’s long life by the filmmaker Mary Lance.

Feminism Rising

Why is feminism resurgent now? One answer may be the galloping growth of an economic inequality that no amount of effort or merit can overcome.

Against Closure

It’s possible that one of the most important things Linda Nochlin has done is to have launched her best-known salvo in the form of a question. “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” was not just an indictment (though it was that, and a forceful one). It was also an invitation.

Leo Steinberg, Rosalind Krauss, Scott Burton, Siah Armajani, Betsy Baker, Printed Matter

Among the people I’ve had the very good fortune to know, and want to recognize, are a couple of formidable teachers (Leo Steinberg, Rosalind Krauss); a few artists who early on prodded me by their wisdom and invention (Scott Burton and Siah Armajani); and one editor, who, I’m guessing, I won’t be the only person to thank, profusely: the inimitable and indomitable Betsy Baker.

Artists Space

Shocking but true: Artists Space, essential model for a generation of feisty, funky, youth-driven nonprofits, is nearly half a century old. More surprising still, initially it depended entirely on government support, at a time when both the governor of New York (Nelson Rockefeller) and the US president (Richard Nixon, newly re-elected) were Republicans. Promising to make up for a dearth of opportunity for young artists, Artists Space’s founders rounded some up and offered them the chance to call the shots, all on the state’s dime.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

All Issues