Thursday, October 12, 2017

36  Tomboy Artist part 2

A really ugly male behavior is getting a lot of attention right now.  In politics and in the entertainment business the assault on female bodies and dignity has been business as usual for decades.

How about the art business?  It's well known that the male abstract expressionists of the 1940's and 1950's considered women artists as not only inferior, but essentially worthless (except for fucking.)  As for the "revolutionary" 1960's-how many famous pop artists were female?  Hmmmm, I'm thinking...

Today, fifty plus years after pop and AE, the art world's treatment and belief that women artists should be taken as seriously as men is uneven at best.  I've had my share of dismissive treatment by dealers and curators.  All women artists have.  Honestly, I don't know what to do about it.  I don't know how to change this neanderthal mindset.  It's not in the best interests of male artists to stand up for us.  More sales and representation of women means less for them.  If a gallery represents 20 artists and 20% (a typical percentage today) are female, to even out the opportunities for women-six of the male artists in the gallery are going to have to take their work down and leave the gallery.  Do you know any male artists willing to do that?  I don't.

Here's an additional hurdle to chew on.  Until recently (the 1980's) Janson's History of Art had ZERO women artists represented in its 850 pages.  ZERO.  Today it has 9% female representation.  In 2017 91% of the artists in the most commonly used art history textbook are male.  Welcome to Art History 101!

How does it affect young women studying art today and how did it affect women of my generation in the past to study an art form where the vast majority of artists honored, are male.  How does a female form attachments to the male artists of the past who we know treated women abominably?  Young people need to study and learn from those who came before.  What is the effect of having no role models with whom one can share a particular knowledge of life?  Imagine a whole area of study and human practice, fine art, where one must have a penis in order to be taken seriously? Would a dildo suffice?  It's ludicrous, but true.

A lot of artists, Picasso and Pollock notably, were well known to have treated women badly.  Yet they are two of the most undeniably important painters of the 20th century.  What is a woman artist supposed to do?  Pretend these two men and thus their work, never existed?  Turn our heads away and not learn from them?

I had a painting teacher in art school who told me that I could not be an artist until I had first gotten married and become a mother.  I have no clue what he was talking about.  I had another painting teacher grab me in the crotch.  Some years back I was in a four person show in my hometown museum-the three guys were in the main room and I was in the rear hallway.  And so it goes and goes.

Until it doesn't.

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