Tag Archives: Guerrilla Girls

Loss, …and change?

It’s a time of great loss.  The death of the American painter, Emma Amos , adds another drop into the ocean of sadness threatening to flood our world.

Black Dog Blues, Emma Amos, 1983 artnews image

Emma Amos (American, born 1938). Preparing for a Face Lift, 1981. Etching and crayon, 8 ¼ × 7 ¾ in. (21 × 19.7 cm). Courtesy of Emma Amos. © Emma Amos; courtesy of the artist and RYAN LEE, New York. Licensed by VAGA, New York

Emma Amos (American, born 1938). Preparing for a Face Lift, 1981. Etching and crayon, 8 ¼ × 7 ¾ in. (21 × 19.7 cm). Courtesy of Emma Amos. © Emma Amos; courtesy of the artist and RYAN LEE, New York. Licensed by VAGA, New York

Baby, Emma Amos, 1966, oil on canvas, 45" x 50"

Baby, Emma Amos, 1966, oil on canvas, 45″ x 50″

Artnews has prepared a brief slideshow of a few of her works.   Ms Amos worked across several media, from drawing and painting to printmaking, tapestry and installation work.

Emma Amos was an artist, wife, mother, and (sometimes) reluctant activitist.  She was a Guerrilla Girl! Guerrilla Girls work anonymously to expose gender and ethnic bias, but Ms Amos did say I was once a member of a very famous clandestine women’s group that worked at night and did not ever go out without masks on our faces.

Howard Cotter’s article in the New York Times Is worth a read.  It’s a factual, insightful and compassionate summary of a very accomplished artist. He points out the significance of paintings like Tightrope, Equals and Work Suit.

Tightrope, Emma Amos, 1994, acrylic on linen with African fabric borders, 82" x 58"

Tightrope, Emma Amos, 1994, acrylic on linen with African fabric borders, 82″ x 58″

Equals, Emma Amos, acrylic on linen fabric, image transfer, African fabric borders, 1992

Equals, Emma Amos, acrylic on linen fabric, image transfer, African fabric borders, 1992

Work Suit, 1994 Acrylic on linen, with African fabric borders and photo transfer, 74" x 54" Image courtesy Ryan Lee Gallery

Work Suit, 1994 Acrylic on linen, with African fabric borders and photo transfer, 74″ x 54″ Image courtesy Ryan Lee Gallery

If you’re like me, you’re wondering why you’ve never heard of Emma Amos, or seen her work.  She wondered the same thing.  The ARTnews article about her career quotes her: I wake up in the morning and say, ‘I have one piece at the Museum of Modern Art.  I wonder, Is it still there?’  ‘You know, I wonder if I’ve been deaccessioned,’ she said. ‘And I wonder how come nobody knows who I am?’

As we all know, it’s time for that to change.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Sad, but true….

Guerilla Girls

The Guerrilla Girls began in 1985. They chose to be anonymous, wearing gorilla masks for public appearances, and taking the names of deceased women artists. Their wanted to focus on discrimination issues in art, rather than themselves, as individual female artists.

Click here for a recent interview with some Guerrilla Girls on Late Night with Stephen Colbert.  Notice the “name” tags.

One of their (several) fun slogans is “Fighting discrimination with facts, humour and fake fur!”

(Thanks to MAWA for sponsoring the excellent lecture by Erica MendritzkiLet me talk to you man to man, during which Ms Mendritzki brought the Guerrilla Girl facts to my attention.)