Feminist Art Project Calls Out Galleries’ Gender Imbalances
What do you imagine the ratio of male artists to female artists is in a typical gallery? You probably aren’t fooling yourself into believing it’s a perfect 50/50, but maybe you’re hopeful it’s close to 60/40. Turns out, in most Los Angeles art galleries, it hovers around 70/30, while in other parts of the country it’s likely even more lopsided. According to the Art Newspaper, New York’s Mary Boone Gallery clocks in at 83 to 17. Blum & Poe is at 89 versus 11, while Sperone Westwater comes in at a shocking 91 versus 9.
Thanks to artist and educator Micol Hebron, a new Internet-based, open-source art project sheds light on these shocking imbalances on the rosters of almost all major galleries. Gallery Tally invites artists to create posters that calculate a gallery’s male/female ratio and represent it visually. The initial call for work was put out last fall, and in April the resulting posters were shown at Los Angeles art space ForYourArt. Now, Hebron is taking the project on the road, asking volunteers to create posters visualizing the gender tallies at galleries in New York, Miami, Seattle, San Francisco, Berlin, Tel Aviv, and Tokyo.
The posters, like the artists who created them, range from quirky to serious, occasionally referencing feminist art historical touchstones (like the Guerilla Girls’ “Do Women Have to Be Naked to Get Into The Met?”) that we hoped would no longer be so poignant several decades later. The project is undeniably shocking, though in a decidedly different way than the Guerilla Girls campaigns.
Hebron is less interested in confrontational protests and public actions, instead preferring to let the numbers speak for themselves. Particularly shocking are the numbers coming out of female-owned galleries like Marian Goodman, Mary Boone, and Regen Projects, which are just as imbalanced, if not more so, than their male counterparts. Hopefully, the implicated dealers will feel inspired to rejigger their rosters, even if their ratio is 70/30, as opposed to an off-the-charts 90/10.
Hebron told TAN that her next step includes compiling a book of the posters, and also expressed interest in tracking numbers for artists of color.
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