Where are all of the famous female artists? With the help of the feminist movement of the 70s, the last 40 years has seen a rise in the number of successful female artists, yet males still outnumber females in major gallery exhibitions. Jerry Saltz did some of the number crunching for New York:
“the percentage of women exhibiting in New York galleries and museums is grievously low. According to the fall exhibition schedules for 125 well-known New York galleries—42 percent of which are owned or co-owned by women—of 297 one-person shows by living artists taking place between now and December 31, just 23 percent are solos by women.”
In a recent panel discussion for the last GOMA exhibition, ‘Contemporary Australia: Women’, Julie Ewington tells a joke (although not funny) that sheds some light on the situation. I don’t have the time to comb through the video and find the exact quote but if you do, by all means post it in the comments and I’ll ammend this:
“how do you put on an exhibition at a major gallery and get absolutely no media coverage? You put all women artists in it”.
Here’s a tribute for some of the famous women in art. There are a lot more of course, but this is just something to get you started thinking. I think a lot of the problem behind the lack of famous female artists lies in habit. A lot of artists (myself included) love to point the finger at the grand personalities of art, mainly flamboyant males with exciting sex lives and an arrogant nature. You know the ones. As a culture, we need to be proactive in changing these habits. Research the female greats. Talk about them. Blog about them. Inform people so that they are at the forefront. Next time somebody asks you who your favorite artists are, make sure that you mention famous female artists. Here’s my attempt to promote some of the amazing female talent that was, and that is.