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Guess what? Women are still underrepresented in the art world

Howard Halle

We know from Patricia Arquette's impassioned acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress at Sunday night's Oscars that women are given the short end of the stick in Hollywood. But Tinseltown seems positively enlightened compared to the art world. That's the verdict issued just a few days before the Oscars in a damning "report card" by feminist artist collective Pussy Galore, which looked into the percentage of women artists being represented by some of New York's biggest galleries. Posted by New York- and Sydney-based curator Maura Reilly on her Facebook page, Pussy Galore's findings are meant as follow-up to a similar assessment from 30 years ago by Guerilla Girls, another feminist collective.

The progress over three decades? An improvement of sorts, but given the dismal baseline of the Guerilla Girls's report (out of 17 galleries examined, 15 presented no more that two shows a year of women artists between 1985 and 1987), not much of one. According to Pussy Galore (whose membership, like Guerilla Girls, remains anonymous), only five out of 34 galleries selected have achieved anything like gender parity with 50 percent female artists or more; another three clock in at 40 percent. The rest ranged from 30 percent to a dubious low of 10 percent shared by three of the city's largest galleries: Marlborough, Tony Shafrazi, and Sperone Westwater.

Considering that women make up more than half the population, the results are insulting, though you could say that about the treatment of women in just about every industry. Still, maybe things will get better by 2045. And maybe we'll finally have flying cars, too. 


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