DAILY: Women in the Arts

In June, when ARTnews published an issue devoted to women artists, we kind of squirmed a bit…in part because it’s disappointing that we have to devote a whole magazine issue as an alternative to being completely ignored. Creating a special issue to point out our achievements just highlights our failures.

More importantly though, we were uncomfortable because of the staggering statistics highlighted by curator Maura Reilly in her ARTnews article, Taking the Measure of Sexism: Facts, Figures, and Fixes:

  • When the Museum of Modern Art (NY) opened its new building, of 410 works on display, spanning 1880 to 1970, only 16 works were by women (just 4 percent). Even fewer works were by artists of color. In April 2015, the number of women only increased to 7 percent.
  • Women run 42.6 percent of museums, typically the ones with the smallest budgets.
  • Yayoi Kusama’s art has fetched the highest price for a living woman artist at auction: $7.1 million. That’s nothing compared to $58.4 million for an editioned sculpture by Jeff Koons. Regarding deceased artists, a Francis Bacon triptych sold for $142.4 million; while the most ever paid for a work by a deceased woman artist was $44.4 million (Georgia O’Keeffe).
  • In 2014, Artforum featured a female artist only once on its front cover. That’s disgraceful.
  • Since 2007, only 29 percent of solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art were by women artists.
  • In 2014, 14 percent of the solo exhibitions at the Guggenheim were by women. Fourteen years earlier there was not one solo exhibition by a woman at the institution.

And the list goes on and on, each statistic more depressing than the last. And again, the statistics are worse for women artists of color.

HappeningsCLT discussed the ARTnews issue when it first hit newsstands in June…but then we sat on this for a bit. (Probably comatose from depression.) Therefore, we were happy to find Victoria Valentine’s recent response to Reilly’s article on Culture Type, highlighting the top 20 solo exhibitions (on view or upcoming) featuring the work of black female artists. Let’s keep it coming, because if we don’t highlight and promote each other, who will? (Certainly not the MOMA.)




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