Promoting Gender Equality in the Visual Arts

Promoting Gender Equality in the Visual Arts

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We strive to work towards gender equality in the visual arts, with a focus on promoting artists who are marginalized by systems of gender oppression (as well as, in some cases, other forms of oppression).

We aim to promote the knowledge, recognition, and appreciation in painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, and all visual arts of artists who are marginalized based on their gender or lack thereof.

Encourage that individuals marginalized based on their gender or lack thereof be able to see themselves represented in art in a respectful and beautiful way.

​Promote artists who face(d) gender oppression.

Discuss how those marginalized based on their gender or lack thereof are depicted in works of art.

Help make art and art history accessible to everyone.

Artists who are marginalized based on their gender or lack thereof, especially artists who are LGBTQ+, disabled, people of color, and/or at the intersections of other marginalized identities, have long been erased from the art world, despite their many important contributions to all forms of visual art.

Art holds immense power: it has the capacity to heal, empower, and rebel against the status quo. Because of this, it is essential that those facing gender oppression be able to see themselves represented both in works of art and in the art industry in ways that allow them agency over their own stories and the revolutionary ability to depict themselves at the center of their art.

We aim to base our work on the framework of intersectionality, a term coined by scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw to define the way multiple forms of oppression, such as gender and racial oppression, operate together to exasperate the oppression of the most marginalized.

• Of over 2300 works in the National Gallery of London,

only 21 paintings (about 0.91%) are by women.

• Of 1400 artists represented in paintings in the Louvre,

only 21 (1.5%) are women.

• In the first 10 websites found on a search browser by searching "top 10 visual artists of all time" which did not segregate the artists by gender, out of 149 total different artists, only 11 (about 7%) are women.

• Starting in 2008, over the course of a decade, only 11% of the work acquired by the top museums in the United States were by women artists. Only 3% of the women artists whose work was acquired were African American.

• A 2019 study found that 18 major art museums in the U.S. were over 87% male and over 85% white. African American women, Asian women, and Hispanic / Latina women were each represented in proportions lower than 1%.

• The first time a woman of color won the Turner Prize (a major visual arts prize) was only in 2017.

• According to a 2017 study by Artnet and Maastricht, of living artists represented in galleries in Europe and North America, only 13.7% were women.

Of over 2300 works in the National Gallery of London, only 21 paintings (about 0.91%) are by women.

Paintings

by women

in the Gallery

Total works in the National Gallery of London

Statistics

In the 15th edition of Gardner's Art Through the Ages, only 70 out of 591 artists (~12%) were women.

Women artists included in the 9th edition of Basic History of Western Art

• In the 9th edition of Basic History of Western Artonly 27 out of 318 artists were women (about 8.5%).

• In the 15th edition (published in 2015) of Gardner's Art Through the Ages, often cited as a top Art History textbook, only 70 out of 591 artists were women (less than 12%). Of the women artists, only 13 (about 18.6%) were women of color.

• Of Artcyclopedia's "Top 30 Artist Searches" from November 2015, only 2 (about 6.7%) were women, both of them white. None of the artists is generally considered to have been transgender.

• Data regarding trans and non-binary artists is incredibly hard to find. Most studies on representation in the art world by gender classify artists as either "male" or "female."

• Of the first ten pages that resulted from an Internet search of "gender representation in the art world," only one mentioned trans and non-binary artists, and it did so mainly in the context of declaring the absence of data on them.

* The terms used here (for example, "African American" as opposed to "Black") are based on what terms were used in the sources that the information is from.

What can I do?

1. Learn about artists who face(d) gender oppression and have been erased from history. Center the most marginalized among them in your learning. You can use our "Artists" page (by clicking on the bolded "Aritsts," that page will appear) to start off learning about some suggested artists.

2. Raise awareness about artists who are/were marginalized based on their gender or lack thereof that you have discovered. Create a Scratch project, social media post, or blog celebrating your favorite among such artists, or simply talk to your friends and family about them.

3. Ask your school / university to include artists who are/were oppressed based on their gender or lack thereof in Art and Art History courses. Academic curricula all too often ignore the contributions of marginalized people in all fields, including Art and Art History. Ask your student president, teachers, and/or principal to address this issue and update curricula to be more inclusive of artists who face/faced gender oppression.

4. Find and share websites and other accessible resources to promote the love of art and art history. These topics unfortunately tend to be seen as something "for the élite," yet everyone should be allowed to explore the beauty of art, whether by learning about art and art history or by starting out to create artwork themselves. You can check out our "Resources" page (by clicking on the bolded "Resources," that page will appear) to start off.

A hand in yellow, pink, orange, and blue holding an orange paintbrush with blue paint.

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed ideas, advice, and feedback to this website!

Top image credits: includes parts of images of Syzygy (2015) by Lina Iris Viktor and La Pittura (1638 - 1639) by Artemisia Gentileschi.