Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Fighting White-Male-Ameri-Euro-Centrism

The Tate Museum in London, England, admits it has a underwhelming number of women artists in its collection, something that pretty much every art museum in the world could own up to as well. A critic in the Guardian helpfully provides a "memo" to get a Georgia O'Keeffe already, but the problem surrounding the representation of women in art is not necessarily content as much as it is the mindset of the art world.

As the Guerrilla Girls, everyone's favorite ape-masked, feminist art activists (pictured above), will tell you, not only are women artists underrepresented but the female form is grossly overrepresented in most museum collections, often in violent depictions by male artists. Women have toiled under a muse complex (and the accompanying madonna-whore psychodrama) for centuries, and it's reflected in the content of art museums and art history.

The Anonymous Female Artist (aka, Militant Art Bitch) tells a story of a Los Angeles artist fed up with the current fetish for work by artists under 30 as well as the expectation of "eccentric, bizarre, stupid, fluffy crap from artists, especially women artists." That artist fulfilled a fantasy by hiring an under 30 actor to act the part of the artist behind her work. There's an element of ageism in that story as well as sexism, but it's all part of the greater problem that the Tate story has brought to the forefront.

I herewith resolve to try to be less White-Male-Ameri-Euro-centric on this blog, knowing that I will fail by most standards of feminism, simply from the range of my own reading. I have the great Georgia O'Keeffe biography Full Bloom by Hunter Drohojowska-Philip sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read. I'll try to remember the lessons of Whitney Chadwick's excellent single-volume history of women and art, Women, Art, and Society, which opened my eyes years back. Unfortunately, the reality is that my finite brain can only hold so much, so any failure to document the great work done by women artists is simply the result of my narrow, yet hopefully widening, horizons.
UPDATE: John Perreault in his Artopia blog calls for a Women's Art Strike to fight the injustice!

No comments: