The Art World = A Man’s World

A recent topic of study for me has been how the art world has always been and continues to be a man’s world. Mostly white men at that. I’m preparing for a very large argument I feel needs to be had, so I’m gathering my sources and increasing my knowledge base. Thought I’d amass some links and pull quotes here, where I can easily find them and other people can read them if they feel so inclined (and you probably should read them).

We find that paintings by female artists sell at a discount of 42.1 percent. So on average, a painting by a woman will sell for much less than a painting by a man.

What Adams and her colleagues find is that affluent people who visit art galleries, especially men, rate art as less compelling when it is said to be painted by a woman.

Researchers Explore Gender Disparities In The Art World


Art by women makes up only 3-5% of the major permanent collections in the U.S. and Europe, even though women earn half of the Master of Fine Arts degrees granted in the U.S. In New York City’s art galleries, 88% of the American artists are white.

Since white, straight, cisgender men get to occupy museum spaces, they also get to dictate how the bodies and experiences of marginalized groups like women and people of color are represented. For instance, judging from Greek and Roman nude female sculptures, vaginas simply didn’t exist during that time period. All of these sculptures of female bodies have “genitals” that look absolutely nothing like real human vaginas; between their legs, there is simply a hairless, smooth triangle with no indication of a vulva, pubic hair, or protruding labia. On the other hand, penises are documented in great detail on the male nude sculptures.

From the 16th-19th centuries, women were denied access to the classical training needed to become esteemed artists. During this time period, studying nude models was considered “too inappropriate” for women, so female artists were forced to create only the kinds of paintings that were considered less valuable at the time like portraits, landscapes, and still lifes. History has also devalued traditionally feminine art such as quilting, embroidery, needlework, and china painting because of their “domestic” natures, yet it assigns great value to traditionally masculine forms of art like paintings and sculptures.

The other issue at the root of this problem is that the people in power who get to decide what art and artists are valuable are also predominantly white, straight, cisgender men.

Museums: It’s a White Man’s World


The under-representation of women, ethnic minorities and disabled people in executive positions is just one small symptom of an industry dominated by white, European men. Female artists are almost entirely absent from historic art collections; their work goes for much less commercially and they are still massively underrepresented in contemporary art institutions.

Art: a man’s world


It is important to understand the impact this bias has had on the art world. These galleries, with outposts across America and Asia, are global tastemakers; championing artists, funding their work and introducing them to the world’s wealthiest collectors. It is still the case that the art that we consider to be the most valuable, in monetary but also cultural terms, is almost all by men. It is the reason that the museums in the world considered to have the greatest and strongest collections are the ones that boast works by Turner, Matisse, Van Gogh and Picasso, Pollock, Rothko, Koons, Hirst and Hockney. That a female equivalent for each of these artists doesn’t roll off the tongue says it all.

How the art world airbrushed female artists from history


Commercial galleries showing 40% female artists and state museums showing 34% female artists in 2014 tell a different story – one where commerce, history and taste are more traditional and hierarchical. The closer an artist gets to money, prestige and power the more likely they are to be male. These results are not surprising as they mirror those in almost all other areas of creative production as well as in almost all spheres of power and influence.

The Countess Report


In the first experiment, we find that participants who are male, affluent and who visit art galleries have a lower appreciation of works they associate with female artists. In the second experiment, we find that affluent participants have a lower appreciation of works we associated with a female artist’s name, particularly when they visit art galleries. Since affluent males who visit art galleries are most likely to represent the typical bidder in an art auction, we believe the evidence is consistent with the idea that “Women’s art sells for less because it is made by women”.

An artful truth about gender bias: Lessons from the art market


As artist and professor Joan Semmel put it: ‘…if there are no great celebrated women artists, that’s because the powers that be have not been celebrating them, but not because they are not there.’

What does it mean to be a woman in art?


Here’s a collection of statistics and links from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, that I don’t have time to dig through right now.

And in closing, a study from Texas State University’s Journal of Research on Women and Gender: Still A Man’s World: The Gendered Experiences of Women Artists.

Probably not all the data I will need to gather, so expect more posts full of links about gender equality in the arts.

Big Sky Country – Texas

Nobody freak out, but I did some actual representational art today. ‪I’m beginning to have opinions about particular watercolor pigments. I may recreate this on the other paper I have tomorrow. Just to see what the difference might be.‬
Painting of Texas country view.

Dump Trump

‪This is a “poll” on the official re-election website for the current President of the United States. Looks like the Republicans never matured beyond kindergarten. Is this really how people want their country to be run?
Trump Poll
Dump Trump
Click images for larger view.

Afternoon Project

I’ve recently been stuck on a couple of paintings, so to sort of knock me out of my creative blockage, I decided to try watercolors, which I have never messed with before. Not even when I was a kid. I’m not ready to formulate an overall opinion on the matter of watercolors as a creative medium, besides saying it’s been interesting and I don’t think I’m well suited for them. It has been interesting trying something new.

This afternoon I stole a little time from the rest of my life to play around a while, and I’m apparently having a good watercolor day (there have been BAD ones). I like how this is going. Tomorrow, when I get back to working on this, I’ll probably mess it up, but I had a nice relaxing afternoon with my new toys.
Watercolor painting on artist's table.

Master Debating

I don’t generally partake of presidential primaries. I haven’t “belonged” to a political party for quite a many years now, so I figure each party should just present me with the best they’ve got. I’ll then decide which flavor of evil I’m willing to vote for. I have taken part in exactly one presidential primary in my entire voting life, and that’s because I was fired up and ready to go. In 2004, after hearing Obama speak at the Democratic convention, the first words out of my mouth were “He’s going to be President someday.” I did everything I could to make that happen, and I was not unhappy with the outcome.

So for me to bother even watching the very first debates between a gigantic mob of Democratic hopefuls, is an unusual event. But I did that. Mostly. I did, in fact bail on the second debate for a while, because my god, what a cacophony of shouting. And all I can say after two nights of this is that I continue to have pretty much the same opinions about the whole clown car full of Democratic potential nominees.

Now that I have gotten through this first round of debates, I will go back to not paying too much attention to what any of them are doing or saying until after I have celebrated Christmas and New Years. It’s ridiculously early for me … or anyone, really … to have strongly held opinions on who to vote for months from now. I’m one of those people who is deciding how to vote on things weeks, and sometimes days (or even hours), before voting on them. Not because I don’t care. I care very strongly about a great many things. I don’t bother paying rapt attention because the closer you get to voting day, the more clear the history of the candidate or measure or whatever is. I know where I stand on things, and I have been unwavering in that for decades, what I need is to see the data … what candidates have been saying and doing or who has been spending money to defeat/support ballot measures.

It’s not at all that I make split second decisions. Ever. It’s that ten years ago I was contemplating potential outcomes from some scenario, and I can then apply that to whatever decision it fits with in the present. It’s how my brain works. I contemplate potential outcomes for all manner of scenarios. I see patterns in how things are moving, and I follow them to their most likely final position.

And I update my internal database all the damn time. I keep up with that’s going on. As well as all the things that have already happened, because I’m big into history. It takes a lot of time and energy to do this, so I get why not everyone does. Hell, not everyone can. I’m lucky, I worked my butt through way the hell too much education, and my life is mostly not filled with having to just survive (though sometimes, it is). Anyway, I’m done with politicians trying to convince me they are the chosen one until after January 1, 2020. Possibly later than that. I’ve run scenarios.

With that said, I have formed some very mild, lukewarm opinions of the rabble that is running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The people I am mildly interested in hearing more from at some date are Warren, Harris, O’Rourke, Gillibrand, Castro, Buttigieg. In no particular order, though I suppose the order my brain thought of them might mean something. I’m sure I’m forgetting someone, but if I can’t even remember you right now, then you probably don’t matter much and will be eliminated long before the Texas primary, or you are one of the people I actively cannot stand and already knew I never needed to hear from again. I will refrain from stating their names, because I don’t need any hate mail.

Now on the subject of the debates themselves, I do have some thoughts. The format sucked. All it did was ask for and produce sound bites. Important thoughts cannot be compressed down into sixty (or thirty) seconds. And my god, none of the moderators moderated. There was zero control of the situation. It’s the same clown car fiasco the Republicans went through when they had ten million people running for President. It is now that I will remind everyone … that process gave us President Trump. The Republicans didn’t get the best possible Republican nominee. They got the person who could best sell themselves in sixty second sound bites and string together words in catchy slogans (with maybe some help from outside sources). If you think this can’t happen on the left side of the political spectrum you are fooling yourself. Evil and/or stupidity can exist on all points along a political line from left to right. It’s a thing I wish more people on the left would keep in mind while rooting for their team mascot, whoever that might be.

So … I’m out. All the back stabbing and mud slinging can happen without me paying attention to it. I’m sure I won’t be able to completely avoid it, unless I give up existing on the internet, but generally speaking, I’ll check back in when we’re closer to the Texas primary. It’s possible I will have less mild opinions about whoever has survived that long, and I will take part in the primary. It’s also possible I will continue to feel only mildly interested in anyone, and I’ll let other people pick the nominee, because any of them will do as well as any of them, which isn’t as sad as it sounds.

I will now watch cat videos on YouTube and cleanse my brain, before curling up in my comfy bed and having a nice long snooze. Hopefully, I will not dream of politics.