Home Magazine (Re)mind the gap! The current role of women in the art field...

What does it mean to be a woman in the arts? If we google terms like "woman" and “art", it's truly impressive to look at the numerous articles dedicated to the still evident discrimination of women in the field. Regardless of their roll: artist, director, curator, gallery manager... the female placement is still in a disadvantage. So, we collected some recent declarations by reliable sources in order to understand both improvements and deteriorations. 

Find more out about the story of important women artists of the 20th Century

Example number one. A report released by the Freelands Foundation and reported by Frieze Magazine has found that while more women (66%) are enrolling in postgraduate study in creative arts and design, this figure is effectively reversed for commercial gallery representation. In 2018, 68% of artists represented by major commercial galleries were men. Similar inequalities exist in art and design institutions, in which 63% of senior staff are men, a 4% increase in 2017, suggesting a growing gender disparity in this field.

Again... In the same report, the worst area for gender inequality was in the art market, in which 88% of 2018 sales were by men, a 3% decrease on the previous year. Of the top ten highest grossing sales at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sales, only 3% of sales were by women artists. The report criticized these ‘very concerning’ statistics, suggesting they are caused by ‘anecdotal attitudes in the sector that female artists make poorer investments.’ However, the report has found that progress is being made in the museum and not-for-profit sectors: in 2018, 55% of solo shows in Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport or Arts Council England National Portfolio Organizations were dedicated to female artists, while 53% of museum and gallery directors in the sector identified as women.

As denounced by the feminist group "Guerrilla Girls" thirty years ago --> Do women have to be naked to get into the Metropolitan Museum?


Guerrilla Girls, Do Women Have to Be Naked to Get Into the Met. Museum?, 1989. Poster. © Guerrilla Girls. Courtesy guerrillagirls.com.


On this thought, good news comes from MoMA in New York: their upcoming renovation will include 4,000 square meters, in addition to the many famous works of the museum, dedicated to those of lesser-known artists, such as women, Latin Americans, Asians and Afro-Americans. In a statement, Leon Black (president of the museum) declared:


We do not want to forget our roots, we have a huge collection of modern art, but the museum has not given enough space to female artists, to what the artists belonging to the minorities, and was too limited geographically.


Ready to share a common intent, the Tate Modern director Frances Morris has commented that women have been discriminated against for centuries, and major institutions have typically failed to support the careers of women artists working on the margins. 


The number of women in the Tate collection is growing, and half the rooms in the Natalie Bell Building are currently devoted to a solo female artist, but work remains to be done. 


Donna Ferrato’s Living With The Enemy series.


The National Museum of Women in the Arts has declared that 51% of visual artists today are women. But when it comes to exhibitions and gallery representation, the numbers tell a less optimistic story. In London, for example, 78% of the galleries represent more men than women, while only 5% represents an equal number of male and female artists. 

Finally, there's still hope according to an interesting article on ArtPrice. Indeed, the Contemporary Art Market certainly looks dominated by men with only 14% of women present on the Top 500 Contemporary artists world auctions; by looking at artists born after 1980, the percentage of women rises to 31%. So… it seems that market is slowly moving towards gender parity although the imbalance is still substantial.

Written by Elisabetta Rastelli

Stay Tuned on Kooness magazine for more exciting news from the art world.