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.”
It’s easy to dismiss Baselitz’s nonsense as the ranting of a curmudgeonly practitioner of an outdated boys’ school style of art, grasping desperately for attention.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?
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.
…or the OG woman painter Artemisia Gentileschi in Chicago.
…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?