One such group of women activists are the Guerilla Girls who regularly call out the Art world for it’s sexism and lack of representation of women a people of color.
In an early date gathering, the Guerilla Girls actually did a ‘ weenie count ‘ at art institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a count on the male to female ratio in artworks. This was in 10985 though a comparable data gathering by them in recent times as shown that not much has changed. In 1985, they found that only 5% of the subjects were women and 83% of the images displayed were nude.
They also found that women and artists of color earn about 10-20% of what white men do for comparable artwork.
Historically, it is men who have been ruling over the artworld, who have elected their own as masters, who have made it possible for other men to receive the privilege of accessing knowledge of drawing and painting and having their art exhibited and acknowledged. Women were, for the longest time, refused access to these privileges.
It’s not until the 19th century that women are allowed to be in life drawing classes and even then, grudgingly.
It sometimes seems to me, that my age, my origins and specifically the fact that I’m a woman disqualify me from more serious consideration by Galleries, not the merit of my art. My being a woman somehow is seen as a sign of lesser technical abilities, of not being serious enough or passionate enough about my art, that maybe I’ll quit for more domestic persuits or something.
’m not advocating for any free passes, I happen to think that like any professional, I should make it on the merits of my art, not on pity. This being put out there, it angers me that in spite of a predominance of women in higher art education, in art schools in general, the market still favors to male artists in unfair ways.
Great women artists abound, at least as much as their male counterparts so the question of quality and numbers cannot be the reason for the lack of women artists being represented. Men do not create better artwork than women as it’s not a question of sex or gender, so how come there are less women in Museums and Galleries, even today in 2012 ?
For the longest time, it has been all about being a white male artist, these are the ones who would receive grants and commissions from their very generous benefactors like the Catholic church and royalty. And when is wasn’t via the patronage of the latter it became the Academies and Ateliers of Europe that favored male artists and refused women.