News Flash: Art World Still Sexist

It has been an interesting week for women in contemporary art.  In case anybody still thinks that maybe we’ve moved beyond needing courses/books/exhibitions devoted specifically to women in the arts, Neo-Expressionist artist Georg Baselitz this week stated, “Women don’t paint very well. It’s a fact,” claiming that they “simply don’t pass the market test, the value test…As always, the market is right.”

The market is always right?  Sure.  So who’s better than van Gogh?  Almost everybody!  And who’s better than Georg Baselitz?  Well, female artist Yayoi Kusama, for one (as pointed out by The Independent).

To infinity and beyond! Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room

It’s easy to dismiss Baselitz’s nonsense as the ranting of a curmudgeonly practitioner of an outdated boys’ school style of art, grasping desperately for attention.  But it is NOT OKAY for him to promote the kinds of exclusionary attitudes that are still VERY REAL in the art world (and beyond).

After all, this year, in the year of our lord 2013, 100 years after the women’s suffrage movement began with a parade in Washington, 34 years after Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party was first exhibited, 24 years after the Guerilla Girls pointed out that NYC bus companies employed more women than NYC art galleries…this year, despite all the progress that young women are exhorted to appreciate and be grateful for…despite everything, the Gagosian Gallery in London chose to mount a show featuring 35 contemporary artists, of whom 34 have Y chromosomes.  Who is the lone female chosen to join this veritable sausage party?  Kim Gordon.  I love Kim Gordon.  I have admired her since I was a baby feminist reading the ‘zines stapled together by the senior girls at my high school.  But is she the only—or the best—or even a representative—example of women in the visual arts today?  Should she even be in a position where I’m compelled to ask that question?  NO!  The art world is supposedly a place of enlightened cultural values.  How are we in the situation that a major gallery thinks that one token female artist is cool?

@Kim Gordon: I hope this painting is not intended as an accurate description of the art world in 2013.

For her part, Kim Gordon called the gender disparity “strange,” tweeting that she was “surprised” by it.  Yeah, I can suggest some stronger words.

I did feel better about the universe, though, after reading this awesome piece in ARTnews about 10 badass women artists.  Let’s all ignore Georg Baselitz and check out the intricate collages of Wangechi Mutu, who critiques primitivism in modern art, at the Brooklyn Museum.

Sexism is for the birds!

…or the OG woman painter Artemisia Gentileschi in Chicago.  

It is still so hard for a woman to get a head in the art world.

…or if you’re in Kansas City, see Maya Lin at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art on November 15.  She won the contest to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. when she was a 21-year-old college student.  The Nelson has commissioned her to create a sculpture/installation called Silver Missouri that is yet to be revealed.  I can’t wait!

Do you have a favorite female artist?

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2 Responses to News Flash: Art World Still Sexist

  1. Scott Lee Spence November 2, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

    Unfortunately there is a lot of snobbery of all kinds in the art world. A friend of mine has been exploring the medium of Cut Paper Art since the 1960’s. He has had exhibitions of his work and lectured at colleges, but many people in the “art establishment” view him as a some kind of yokel from Missouri.

    Let them try and do what he does.

    • Paula Rose November 3, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

      Yeah, paper arts are amazing and challenging. The distinction between “fine art” and “craft” is partly rooted in sexism, in my opinion.

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