Friday, September 22, 2006

boys' club?

Our art friend jerry saltz has again noted some interesting facts about woman in the art world. Here are a few of his points:

"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."
"Meanwhile, since 2000 only 14 percent of the Guggenheim's solo shows of living artists have been devoted to women."
"All of us can notice, then mention that we noticed. I did this last year when I had a hissy fit on this page about how women were only around 15 percent of the artists included in Artforum's annual Top 10 lists and the "power lists" of Art + Auction and ArtReview. That seemed to ruffle a lot of feathers."
"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."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reference: Pages 174-182 (Chapter 19)
Title: "Kafka on the Shore"
Author: Haruki Murakami

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's face it. Women artists suck.

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Ann,

I just took a Very casual (!!) tally of the names mentioned in paragraphs and captions throughout your September posts. What I found was that

of 122 artists mentioned
68 were male
47 were female
7 were gender non-specific names (couldn't guess)

that's about (and I mean about) 58% male vs. 39% female.

I don't know the breakdown of the community in Detroit. But that's pretty equal! Good job. You should crunch the numbers since you started this blog :)

Women Rock!
(So do gender non-specific folks)

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I meant to ask you about your box at the DAM show but hadn't bumped into. I was wondering if it was a joke or criticism of his use of many of the same words?

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous, equal means 50/50.

I agree with you, though, that Ann's blog is doing a great job....

we should not, however, get used to or comfortable with the inequities that still exist in the art world. The Guerilla Girls still have a lot of work to do.

We are all victims of the 'powers that be' that choose this group or that group to dominate in museums, galleries, or the art press. Ann covers what is out there.

39 does not equal 58.

I really dont mean to be a grey cloud diminishing your very kind and positive comments to Ann. I just want to remind everyone that, overall, the art world is still basically dominated by a white male power structure, and that influence filters down to influence the smallest community.

10:55 AM  
Blogger art blogs are fun said...

I basically went through a lot saltz's essays/articles and found the adjectives he used to describe art. The box was a litte bit of a joke on those who go out to shows and don't take the time to look at the work and know how to decribe it past saying "i like it" or "don't like it". The box of saltz's art flashcards was a playful commentary of how we look at art and the words we use to decribe it.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I began my tally hoping to show it was perhaps 90%-10%. So I was pleased to determine that it was 58-39 or whatever. My jaded psuedo-thesis destoryed, I still shared the findings.

Of course equal representation all depends on the total proportion of male to female artists in Detroit. If there are 10 male artists to every 1 female artist, or 10 female artists to every 1 male artist, then representation should not be 50/50. Unless it's going to travel the affirmative action path.

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


i suppose one could look at the makeup of the population of art schools, and probably see that females outnumber males least that is how it was when I went to art school in the 90's. Dont think it has changed much.

So what happens when these graduates emerge from the cocoon of the academy, and we find that the ratios have changed drastically----that the male artists have the upper hand in the media, getting notice, being lionized, etc.

In referring to the total proportion of male to female artists in Detroit, unless a specific census is taken of the arts community, how would we know? Maybe Artserve Michigan has this data in their files. But why is it in a city that is 80% African American, and with a very large Arab American community, we dont see that reflected somewhat proportionately in the arts media? Now, dont mistake my question for a plea for quotas. I am just asking why.

And it is not because they are NOT going to art schools, because they are. But something happens when artists of any ethnicity or gender meet the big wall of the media and the structured gallery/exhibition system.

I thank you for your query and your research into opened up an interesting dialogue that I hope is sustained. When I responded, though, I wanted to make clear that in terms of the struggle for notice, artists [or whomever] should not be satisfied with less than total parity.

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe it's a big wall. But maybe it's other things as well. This is all theoretical of course. Almost so much so as to be moot. But let's forge ahead with some questions.

These women who 'quit' making art, do they move into other fields? Or marry? Are they perhaps less ego-driven than men and keep their work private?
Do they re-direct their creativity into educaiton. awareness, and facilitation? Men and women do not shre the exact same goals by and large, so why wouldn't their paths display some divergence?

Aren't there black and arab owned galleries in Detroit who enjoy the same very modest success as white owned galleries? Isn't Namdi equal to Hillberry in the city? Press is of course an issue. But which press? print, TV, bolg? Also in the city of Detroit proper, recent public debates over ideas such as the proposed "Africa Town" commercial subsidy show a trend of blame rather than action within the city.

I think it's too easy to say that there's a big red wall that stops everyone but white males. Women nationally now comprise the overwhelming majority of HS valedictorians, and are said to outperform their male counterparts in many areas. There have been articles in pubs. from Harpers to Discovery that report a trend toward descrimination that now affects young men, of all races, stating that girls learning methods are more aligned with current educational practices, and despite educator's awareness of such pedegogical shortcomings, do nothing to change their practices.

Isn't it equally possible that women, repressed and short-changed as they are in the workforce are equally blessed with the option to marry and not work. An option available to perhaps only a very small fraction of men?

I do agree that it is still a largely phalocentric world. And a largely eurocentic country. But in matters as important as this, matters that extend far beyond the art world, isn't it equally as important to be sure of causation? If you don't ask the right question you may not get the right answer..and solve the important problems.

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

except scott hocking & co, i'm not aware of too many young artists who get fair coverage in the press anyway.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a big gas distraction. I really cannot see any woman being turned away from a gallery because they are female. Last time i was in New York it seemed 80% of the galleries I went into were owned by women. As a white male whom has always held on to the liberal end of things I find it to be an excruciating task to make it in the art world where perhaps I am being victimized at times for not being politically correct to some degree, or gay or whatever. Yes this happens.

Look at our Art Centers, they are filled with women and have been for a long time. Not many men besides a few teachers and the janitor. To be a male teacher today is a pain which I would not wish on anyone. But you all will probably not touch that.

It is amazing how everything is riddled with hypocrisy.

12:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

baker, take a gaviscon and chill.

No one was talking about anyone being turned away from any galleries.
What we were doing was having an interesting conversation about structures, constituencies, motives, and histories.

12:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

barbara, perhaps you should re-read the last 10 posts.

9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

its' Anon again

Baker and Barbara you are both right. The truth of the matter lies not in the middle of your observations and opinions, but varies between them based on location, institution etc.

I think it's really crucial to remember that there is no generalized statement one can make about how individuals are treated, where, and by whom. It's not possible and not helpful. Certainly the climate and realities in SF, Miami, Lincoln Nebraska, and Toronto are different.

We are all without public funding now. We are all largely unable to sell consistently in this starved market. if the 58% of males and 39% of females (and incidental % of gender non-specific folks) could jsut agree to hold hands for a god-damned minute....see where I'm going?

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is the discrimination "male/female" or rather where you went to school and whether or not you have an MFA?

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a percentage for you all.
It is has been figured over the last 10 years that 95% of ALL MFA graduates 5 years after finishing school are not in their field or making art anymore.

11:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder what the five year numbers for a BFA are. 99.99995%?

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

baker's last comment is scarier than any of these other percentages.

some of our best and most progressive artists are women (julie mehretu, dana schutz, tracey emin, elizabeth murray, ann hamilton, louise bourgeois etc).

i think this is a dead argument, especially in detroit. when the guerilla girls approached my institution 10 years ago to do a "sexism in the arts" project, we told them "thanks, no thanks."

we neither saw then nor now any real imbalance with artist gender in detroit. in fact, at the time, women were showing 2 to 1 in the region.

moreover, i believe those artists that continue on (those 5%) are mostly women - due to gender roles. male artists usually are the first to be driven into "functioning" jobs outside the arts.

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to admit I kinda shuddered when I opened up this thread: "oh, here we go bashing eachother with statistics that are only as valuable as the paper their printed on anyway" but I have to say I am very pleasantly surprised by the level of genuine observation displayed here. Esp: Anonymous, I wish you would identify yourself. You make excellent points.

They heydey of sociology and its statistics is waning as we realize that these complex problems/facts of life can't be boiled down to meaning in numbers: there are too many contributing factors. Anthropological studies have begun to indicate especially that the feminist theory of equality is not, in fact, true equality or the only equality. There are many degrees of equality and 50/50 sales is a superficial measurement. As someone mentioned: there are a lot of women who are able to make art because they are at home with their children and have a level of free time that their partners do not (simply walk through an art faire or, better yet, a craft faire).

However, having said that, there is a great deal of truth to self-replicating cycles: more men are shown and so they sell more, so more male work is shown because it sells. Though I would argue that there are greater forces at work than the opening statistics give credit for. Can you boil a purchasing decision down to a simple statistic or equation? If you could, sales (all sales, but especially art sales) would be much easier, wouldn't they?

One of my favorite lines from a poem, which I think of everytime I see statistics bandied around: "this is not the truth / the truth would have / more questions".

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's an interesting universe of questions to be sure. I am glad Ann raised the idea. And I have been happy to chew on it. This is one of those instances I beleive, when the question initially raised is brought into perspective by the questions the discussion itself raises. For example; does the appearance of inequity/inequality between groups (gender, racial, etc) still impact the community in the same way actual inequity/inequality would? I think the answer is of course yes. Our national politics and family fueds offer serviceable examples daily. So perception is a keystone. I beleive I was raised to more or less assume constantly and consistently that everyone but white men get the shaft. I do feel that this is often or very often true, and may be true more often than I know. But this assumption is quite rediculous really. If we can theorize that some objective factual reality does exist somewhere, and that it must collide with our perception(s) of the world, then we see there is very little room for such assumptions. They are merely muddying factors. And there are already enough of those already burdening issues that are so close to so many.

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Conversely, I was raised in an all-female household with highly educated and successful women, where racism and sexism were non-issues (such non-issues that they weren't worthy of discussion), so I struggle w/ those ideas having never actually witnessed the later directly. I can't think of a time where I felt discriminated against for being a woman, or told that I couldn't do something for that reason. We all struggle to be successful: I have seen white affluent men struggle to be successful. I don't know where this idea came from that they (white men) didn't have to work for what they acheived: I am not sure if that was ever really true. But the world looks for scapegoats and criminals.

I just overcome hurdles as I come to them and think of them as hurdles, not as racism or sexism, but just as hurdles that need to be addressed on an individual basis. I think that a lot more would be accomplished if we stopped trying to segregate ourselves (because I would propose that it is true that we segregate ourselves more than any ambiguous "society" segregates us now).

Or maybe I have just lived a charmed life where I have not been discriminated against and that is rare? Or maybe I have been discriminated against and didn't recognize it as such (and thus diminished its power over me).

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I empathize. I was raised by mom, sis, and gradma. Mom started and runs a business and sis is a corporate raider. Grandma raised 5 kids after gramps walked out. So I get it.

Like I said before, every Circumstance is different. You make very good observations that frame the current discussion with more of an emphasis on perception.

I used to have unusually open discussions with a friend in the city. He is black and I am white. I remember him saying that I had no idea what it was like to have nothing expected of you. This was an interesting turn for me. I mentioned that perhaps he had no idea what it was like having everything expected of him. Both presume things based on potentially irrelevant factors. Both diminish the Individual based on their connection to a skin color. Silly. And also potentially very dangerous.

In either case we are much more free to self-define our own levels of success and ethics than either of us may have previously thought. I don't know what he's up to now but I think he has most likely done whatever the hell he has set his mind to. We are both tenacious.

Hopefully the consensus is that everyone who works hard gets a fair slice of pie.

5:47 PM  

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