Georg Baselitz Makes Disgraceful Sexist Remarks on Women Painters, Again

Female artists lack ambition, he said.

The artist was speaking ahead of his exhibition at London's White Cube gallery. Photo: ARNO BURGI/AFP/Getty Images

The German star-artist Georg Baselitz has come under fire (again) for making outrageously unabashed sexist remarks in an interview with the Guardian.

The notoriously outspoken artist was talking about his new exhibition at the pop-up White Cube gallery at the Glyndebourne opera festival when the conversation turned to the subject of female artists.

“The market doesn’t lie,” he explained to the Guardian’s Kate Connolly. “Even though the painting classes in art academies are more than 90% made up by women, it’s a fact that very few of them succeed. It’s nothing to do with education, or chances, or male gallery owners. It’s to do with something else and it’s not my job to answer why it’s so.”

But Baselitz didn’t stop there. “It doesn’t just apply to painting, either, but also music,” he offered.

When Connolly pressed him to elaborate, he added “If women are ambitious enough to succeed, they can do so, thank you very much. But up until now, they have failed to prove that they want to. Normally, women sell themselves well, but not as painters.”

If Baselitz’s opinion on female artists sounds familiar it’s because he made nearly identical comments in an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel in 2013.

At the time he insisted, “Women don’t paint very well. It’s a fact.” He backed up his claim by saying that women don’t pass “the market test” or “the value test.”

It is undeniably true that male artists have traditionally performed better at auction than female artists. The auction record for a work by a male artist, set by Pablo Picasso, stands at $179 million (see $179 Million Picasso Sets Stratospheric Record at Christie’s $705.9 Million “Looking Forward” Sale).

For comparison, the auction record for a female artist, set by Georgia O’Keeffe, stands at $44.4 million (see O’Keeffe Painting Sells for $44 Million at Sotheby’s, Sets Record for Work by Female Artist).

But unfortunately Baselitz fails to consider societal factors such as the gender wage gap and gender stereotypes when making his comments, which sadly reinforce the art world’s male bias (see We Asked 20 Women “Is the Art World Biased?” Here’s What They Said).

Applying the logic that higher prices indicate that men are better artists than women is deeply flawed. As is the logic that the quality of art is determined by its price.

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