Category Archives: Guggenheim

Just when you think it can’t get any worse…..

It’s worse than I thought, and I thought it was awful.  (See my brief post from 2016 here.)  According to a report  published on artnet News….just 11% of all museum acquisitions over the past decade have been of work by women.  Yes, you have (unfortunately) read that correctly.  (No typo:  eleven.)  To add insult to injury ….the number of works by women acquired  did not increase over time.  In fact, it peaked a decade ago.

Go ahead.  Take a moment to let that sink in.

Julia Halperin and Charlotte Burns’ report is worth reading.  It’s a nuanced examination of the reasons why there hasn’t been any progress in gender parity in museum collections.  It’s based on research by Julia Vennitti and part of ongoing research into the presence of female artists’ work in museums and the art market in the past decade.

Perhaps one of the most important observations is expressed by Helen Molesworth, former chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.  The art world is simply not the liberal progressive bastion it imagines itself to be and you can’t solve a problem if you don’t own it.  

It’s true.  I had thought we were making some progress, albeit glacial,  in this area, didn’t you?   But as the report says ….perhaps one of the key takeaways is that the stories we tell ourselves – about our museums and our societies – are not to be trusted.

Sigh.  Just like almost every other issue, we need to dig deeper to discover the reality.

I’ll leave you with some images from the Hilma af Klint show, which I saw at the Guggenheim, NYC, in December 2018. The research indicates that this show …drew the youngest audience of any exhibition since the museum started to measure visitor demographics and drove a 34 percent increase in membership.

Seems like showing work from interesting female artists is a recipe for success and longevity.

Hilma af Klint, Guggenheim Museum, December 2019

Hilma af Klint, Guggenheim Museum, December 2019

Hilma af Klint, Group IX/SUW, The Swan No.13, 1915

Hilma af Klint, Group IX/SUW, The Swan No.13, 1915

Thanks to @artgirlrising for bringing the research article to my attention.






Interesting Artist Alert!

The Guggenheim Museum in New York is featuring an Agnes Martin exhibition.  I was vaguely aware of her name, guessing she was an American  painter, during the 50’s and 60’s…..or so I thought.

Agnes Martin photo credit: The Guardian

Agnes Martin photo credit: The Guardian

Well, the more I read about her, the more fascinated I am.  Here are at least seven interesting facts about Agnes Martin to pique your curiosity…..

~Agnes Martin was a Canadian.  She was born in Macklin, Saskatchewan.  (Further evidence that there is always another Saskatchewan town you’ve never heard of before!)  Her birthday is March 22, 1912, the same year as Jackson Pollock.

~She was a talented swimmer, and in her teen years, was a contender for the Olympic team.  She trained as a teacher, and taught in the Pacific Northwest before she turned her attentions, at age 29,  to studying and making art.

~ When she lived and painted in Manhattan in the 50’s and 60’s, she hung out with artists like Elsworth Kelly and Robert Indianna.

~In 1967, she gave up everything, bought a truck and an Airstream trailer and disappeared, heading west……

~18 months later, she ‘appeared’ in New Mexico.  She hand built her own one room adobe house, as well as a separate studio on a remote mesa. She lived a monastic-like life, and eventually resumed painting.

~Agnes Martin painted until the end of  her long life.  She moved into a retirement home in 1992, and indulged in a white BMW she used to drive to her studio. She worked through 2003, and died in December 2004.

If you want to learn, or read more, there’s a wealth of great writing and film about Agnes Martin.  Even if you only have a minute to spare, click here to see an excellent, short  (yes! 1 minute and 19 seconds) video about Agnes Martin and the current exhibition at the Guggenheim.  (It’s worth it just to see some gorgeous shots of the museum.)  Here is the (brief!) Guggenheim’s biography of Agnes Martin. For a more detailed discussion of her life, and her work, this article from The Guardian is excellent.

Friendship, 1963 by Agnes Martin

Friendship, 1963 by Agnes Martin