Wednesday, May 26, 2010

DAMage Report - The Artistic Glass Ceiling

Show postponed until tomorrow - same place, time, topic. Gives y'all time for.... HOMEWORK!!! (Evil laugh) Tell me your five favorite female artists - in any genre... and if you don't know of five - FIND some. Seriously.

We tend to think of gender discrimination as something that is reflected mostly in the corporate world, or even an issue that is no longer that much of a problem. The days of female artists being repressed and unrecognized are over... right? Wrong. Truth is that women artists are still way the hell down on the art totem pole - in all the genres of art. 

"...half of trained artists in the U.S. are female, but women make up only two percent of the artists featured at the National Gallery of Art and seven percent at the National Portrait Gallery."  The imbalance isn't just historical though.  "At the Hirshhorn Museum, which specializes in contemporary art, women are five percent of featured artists."
Some hard cold glass facts from the 90's thru current day:

  •  There have been only eleven female winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature over the last 100-plus years
  • In 2008, women comprised only 16% of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films
  • In 2000, of 18 modern-dance choreographers who received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, 13 were men. The men received a typical grant of $10,000; the women $5,000
  • In 53 weeks of the New York Times Book Review in 2002-03, out of 807 books reviewed, only 28% were authored by women. 
  • 51.2% of all artists in the U.S. are women 
  • 59% of Ph.D.s in Fine Arts go to women.
  • 66.5% of Ph.D.s in Art History go to women.
  • 59% of trained artists and art historians are women.
  • 33% of art faculty are women.
  • 5% of works in museums are by women.
  • 17% of works in galleries are by women.
  • 26% of artists reviewed in art periodicals are women.
  • Women artists' income is 30% that of male artists'.
  • 30% of Guggenheim grants go to women.
  • 25% of $25,000 NEA grants go to women.
The numbers go on and on and on.... except maybe in basket weaving, similar numbers are reflected in all areas of the arts as well as in all areas of arts grants and support. Obviously by the number of women artists getting degrees in the arts, there are a large percentage of dedicated women artists in our society. Oh, and by the way - if you throw race into the mix, for example black female authors or painters and the numbers completely nosedive. 

These statistics demand some hard questions. Is it because of what women paint, write, how they create? Does gender choices in subject matter affect "acceptability" or popularity?
Are they less talented in the arts than their male counterparts? 
What could possibly account for a continued bias in male versus female created art?

Now to be fair, if the majority of women are painting babies, puppies and ballet dancers and flowers - yeah, they're not going to get the gallery space and recognition of male artists who are painting contemporary art or even landscapes. Cute and art don't necessarily mix in the fine art world. But But we're not talking hobby artists - we're looking at the serious artists who are actively making a living, or trying to, with their art. They are educated artists, passionately pursuing their craft. So why can't they get equal recognition? 

Jerry Saltz said, while criticizing MoMa for it's lack of representation of female artists in its collection: "Art should be bought on merit, not the sex of the artist. The sex of the artist is the last thing on my mind when I'm looking at good art."  To be fair, MoMa has heard the outcry over the past decade and is featuring a major exhibition of female photographers, as well as releasing a book this month, "Modern Woman," about women artists.
Glad to know someone is taking the problem seriously.

If you think this is all hyperbole and female hysteria... name five nationally recognized female visual artists in the United States. The majority of people will probably name Georgia O'Keefe, maybe even Frida Kahlo (a Mexican artist) if they remember any female artists at all... but beyond that... not so much unless they happen to follow particular female artists works. It certainly doesn't come from encountering it in school or mainstream media. 
REF Story:

Top 50 Female Visual Artists According to Someone:,50-Female-Visual-Artists

Lucy Hunnicutt - Art Shown in Story:

BOOK GIVE AWAY: Author Teresa Roberts Logan is sending me an extra copy of her illustrated book "The Older i Get, The Less i Care" (you can find out more here: Sooooo - in keeping with celebrating women artists, i'll be giving away a copy today on the DAMage Report on Hollywood Outlaw Radio at 2pm PST/5pm EST ( You gotta listen to find out how to win it. I also recommend adding the DAMage Report facebook page:!/thedamagereport

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

DAMage Report - Faking It

One of the more popular and memorable stories I did earlier this year included mention of a performance art piece called "The Rape Tunnel." (

It turns out that the concept was a hoax designed to generate dialog. Not about rape but about contemporary art. Now art should generate dialog, but what about non-art or art that isn't. Does this make the hoax itself art? Or just viral marketing?

It interesting that psychologists had a field day with this one.
The artist, the galleries, the project were all fictional. But it is interesting to note that for a cursory check the designers of this hoax had photos online of the artist, of the tunnel and the multiple stories published about the topic lent it immediate validity... at least for the short term. (On a side note - it is also interesting that when doing research we tend to rely maybe a bit too heavily on google to find our facts, not taking in account lag time for links to related stories. If google finds it, it must be real, right?)

Hoaxes and art are age old partners.

In 1998, William Boyd published a biography about american artist Nat Tate. Gore Vidal, John Richardson (Picasso's biographer), and David Bowie all participated in the elaborate ruse. One of the participants said "We were very amused that people kept saying 'Yes, I've heard of him'. There is a willingness not to appear foolish." The entire project was apparently a satire aimed at poking fun at the New York art scene.

Another was the abstract artist phenomenon Marla Olmstead - a four year old who created a media frenzy in the art world. Turns out daddy may have given her a little bit of help.

This one is one of my favorites, dating from 1064: "previously unknown avant-garde French artist Pierre Brassau exhibited at an art show in Goteborg, Sweden. Art critics from Swedish papers praised the works. Brassau paints with powerful strokes, but also with clear determination. His brush strokes twist with furious fastidiousness. Pierre is an artist who performs with the delicacy of a ballet dancer." Pierre was a chimp.

Oh and that blood art with the girl aborting herself: "Aliza Shvarts, a Yale art student, proclaimed she'd been working on a project by repeatedly impregnating herself, self-aborting, and then planned to encase the remnants of the abortions in a glass cube as "art." It made the blog rounds after being reported in the Yale student newspaper, and then made the jump to the mainstream media before she admitted the project was "creative fiction" intended to stir debate."

The excuse "used to create debate or dialog" seems to be the safety net everyone is using with these hoaxes. And what exactly is the difference between a lie and a hoax? If you lie while laughing behind your hand, it's a hoax? Granted, some media such as the Onion or paraody shows play off the fictional but then they don't pretend that what they are serving up is real. The need for an artist and for media to create "stories" or promotional opportunities is a Pandora's box. Don't get me wrong - I have a great sense of humor and i love a practical joke. However, as a society, if we are lied to enough, we become jaded and disbelieving, to the point where we may dismiss without thought anything that falls outside the "normal/acceptable" box. True in life and true in art, the lessons of the boy who cried wolf (also know as balloon boy) need to be tattooed on the heads of some idiots.

So can i lose the nickname "Rape Tunnel" Phillips now?

Ref Stories:
and just for fun:

Museum of Art Hoaxes:

DAMage Report Today on Hollywood Outlaw Radio ( at 2pm PST/5pm EST

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

DAMage Report - The only good artist is a dead artist

The only good artist is a dead artist. At least that is what some people believe as indicated by what they will spend on original artwork. Once you die your value increases a hundred or even a thousand fold ... assuming of course that you were a halfway talented and collectible artist.

A 1932 painting by Pablo Picasso sold Tuesday night in New York for $106.5 million dollars. This is a new world record auction price for a work of art. The price for Nu au Plateau de Sculpteur (or Nude, Green Leaves and Bust for those of us that butcher the french language) had been estimated at around $70 million  before the sale. The painting was purchased by the Brodys in 1950 for $17,000. I suck at math - what kind of return on investment is that anyway? Something like a bazillion percent? You know Pablo is probably looking up from that special place reserved in hell for artists, yelling "WTF!"

The most expensive private sale was Jackson Pollock's No. 5, 1948, which sold for $140 million in 2006. He died at age 44 in 1956. 

According to the experts that sit around calculating this stuff, "dead artists tend to retain their value better than living ones. Some insurance companies have an automatic increase of the insured value of items if an artist dies.” It makes you wonder exactly how many famous artists had contracts taken out on them by impatient  collectors who were afraid they would die before the artist did. 

Before the Economy decided to nose dive and took everyone including the art market down, there was some interest in the fact that certain living artists were pulling in some major bucks at auctions. Contemporary artists Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons became symbols of speculation when prices for their work soared 175% between 2000 and 2008. But then the bubble burst, especially for the contemporary art market, which experienced a fall of about 40% as speculative bidders vanished. Let's hope Hirst and Koons had stuffed their  easels with some cash for a rainy day, because it is unlikely that living artists will experience that potential return on their creations... at least while they're alive.... anytime soon.

Not to be morbid but do you think the people holding onto Frank Frazetta originals are secretly rubbing their hands together and calculating how much profit they just made? There is definitely something goulish about the fact that an artist will never TRULY know the worth of their work, because they rarely achieve their pinnacle of success until they're six feet under. Doesn't do them a damn bit of good then. No wonder artists have a rep for being nutcases. We're never truly appreciated until we're dead. 

Here's a thought to make it a bit more fair on the artist, who after all poured their soul into creating these great works of art: they need to tack on a death tax to their paintings when they sell them to collectors. It could be  a projected percentage of value increase applied. Example: The price of the painting is $500 with a projected 1000% value death tax applied at a calculation of 100 years and.... oh nevermind - i suck at math. No wonder artists starve.

Also a nod of respect and sorrow at the passing of artist Frank Frazetta on Monday night. He was considered the grandfather of fantasy art. If you don't recognize the name, I promise, you'll recognize the art. He did the covers of the Conan novels as well as the gorgeous busty women chained to stone pillars that inspired more than one lusty male... and a few females as well,  I'm sure. I have yet to encounter an artist who didn't appreciate his wonderful illustrations. Many of us were influenced by him on some level - whether by the fire of his imagination or his exquisite use of light and color. His passing is a great loss to the art world.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

DAMage Report - The Boobie Ban

(Arts Day has moved with the DAMage Report to Hollywood Outlaw Radio! Same time 2pm PST - new station:

Our porn loving ancestors are corrupting the current and future generations with their perversions disguised as art. It may look like a simple state seal from the 1700's but don't let that fool you. It is really a tool of the conspiracy, used to instigate the moral downfall of our country by flashing bare boobs and stirring the throbbing lust of the masses so they run a muck.

The seal depicts that hussy Roman goddess Virtus, the not so virtuous, flashing her left breast. The uninhibited wench even is the centerpiece of Virginia's state flag. Talk about an exhibitionist. But on new lapel pins Virginia's Attorney General Cuccinelli took the pornographic boob in hand and covered it with an armored breastplate. Thanks to Cuccinelli our virtue and moral dignity has been saved.... or it was until the sex-crazed populace  protested and ridiculed the Attorney General for his boob banning, forcing him to abandon the TITillating crusade. What is this country coming to? Tsk. Tsk.

A similar incident in 2002 involved the Justice Department and Attorney General John Ashcroft when he ordered bare-breasted statues of Justice be covered because he didn't like being photographed in front of the sculpted cleavage.

It is gratifying that the media has had a field day with the ridiculous victorian prudishness of politicians deciding to censor art while declaring it obscene. However... it doesn't alter the disturbing fact that the trend of perceiving nudity as porn and anything even remotely sensual as depraved is on the rise. Politicians like Cuccinelli merely reflect the escalating attitudes of the general population. We are getting closer and closer to the dangerous ground of puritanical censorship. You'll know we've officially arrived when fig leaves begin to strategically decorate all historical art.

It is ironic and interesting that Virginia's obscenity laws defines obscenity as:
"... that which, considered as a whole, has as its dominant theme or purpose an appeal to the prurient interest in sex, that is, a shameful or morbid interest in nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, excretory functions or products thereof or sadomasochistic abuse, and which goes substantially beyond customary limits of candor in description or representation of such matters and which, taken as a whole, does not have serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value."
Until this month, the seal was seen as having artistic value. Until Cuccinelli deemed it offensive and obscene.

The Supreme Court has consistently held that the First Amendment does not protect certain classes of materials, including those declared legally obscene. However the law does protect materials that may be indecent or simply offensive. The issue is, what exactly is the definition of obscene? If a work is legally obscene, it may be censored and its producers may be punished. If a work is not legally obscene it is protected by the First Amendment and can not be censored. The confusion from this issue begins with its foggy and SUBJECTIVE definition. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once stated that he could not define obscenity but "I know it when I see it." Stewart's dilemma illusrates the difficulty for the courts in clarifying the ground rules for obscenity.

Please. People. A bare breast does not equal porn anymore than a nude cupid on a valentine's card equals child pornography. While what people find offensive is as varied as individual tastes, the self righteous need to dictate what is and isn't perverted and force those dictates on others has to STOP. Teaching our children that nudity in art, any type of nudity at all is nasty and enjoyed only by pervs is a sure method of developing a repressed and mentally disturbed society. History has shown us clearly what happens when repression becomes the norm in a society.

Fortunately, we still have the saving grace of comedians to bring us hopefully back to our senses. 
Taking the issue of State Seal indency to heart, one blog offers up a new state seal for Indiana to ensure that their nude buffalo can no longer incite unseemly lust and embarrassment.