“Art and apartheid: The prime real estate is still a men’s club”

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That’s the subtitle of an article in the Village Voice entited Women of Babylon, by Jerry Saltz. Below is an excerpt:

… 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.

Some may argue that 23 percent isn’t that bad. True, it’s not as bad as last fall’s even worse 19 percent. And it’s certainly not as sorry as the situation at some of our museums. On the fourth and fifth floors of the Museum of Modern Art, in the galleries devoted to the permanent collection of art from 1879 to 1969, there are currently 399 objects. Only 19, or 5 percent, of those objects are by women. This is up from last fall’s 3 percent, but it’s partly due to the display of a silver teapot, a brass fruit bowl, and an ashtray by the excellent Marianne Brandt, who technically isn’t even in the painting and sculpture collection. Yesterday’s institutions can’t be judged by today’s standards. MOMA’s shortcomings are built-in: Of all the artists in its P&S collection with work completed before 1970, fewer than 1 percent are women. Even so, MOMA’s narrative wouldn’t be disrupted by having work on view by Alice Neel, Florine Stettheimer, Sonia Delaunay, Louise Nevelson, Emma Kunz, Hilma af Klint, Adrian Piper, Marisol, Maya Deren, Dorthea Rockburne, Niki de Saint Phalle, Jo Baer, Jay DeFeo, Joan Brown, Grace Hartigan, Leonora Carrington, Leonor Fini, Natalia Goncharova, Gego, Dorothea Tanning, Romaine Brooks, Ree Morton, Howardena Pindell, Lee Lozano, Hanna Hoch, and Claude Cahun. If MOMA doesn’t own work by all these artists it needs to rectify this.

Meanwhile, since 2000 only 14 percent of the Guggenheim’s solo shows of living artists have been devoted to women. After cringing at that, consider “Full House,” the Whitney’s recent installation of its permanent collection. The show was challenging but familiar in one troubling area: Only 19 percent of its participants were women. Figures, however, aren’t always cut-and-dried. Only 23 percent of all the artists in the Whitney’s collection are women, so “Full House” reflected its collection. There were 48 artists in “Uncertain States of America,” Bard’s summer show organized by three European male curators: Only 10 were women. Several of these were only in the rotating video program. The prime real estate is still a men’s club.

The programmatic exclusion of women is partly attributable to the art world’s being a self-replicating organism: It sees that the art that is shown and sold is made mainly by men, and therefore more art made by men is shown and sold. This is how the misidentification, what Adorno called a “negative system,” is perpetuated. …

Via Ross Cheit.

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