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
- 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. http://www.artbook.com/9780870707711.html
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: http://www.salon.com/life/broadsheet/2010/05/17/female_filmmakers/
Top 50 Female Visual Artists According to Someone: http://www.faqs.org/shareranks/811,50-Female-Visual-Artists
Lucy Hunnicutt - Art Shown in Story: http://www.southernbreeze.net/tour152.htm