I got the Brainstormers email alert last week. The notice said there was a gender disparity in the artists selected for the Greater NY 2005 exhibit at PS 1....and we can guesss which way the results skewed, right? So that's not really news -- that there are fewer women than men in the exhibit. However, when I got a followup email today with a refer to an artnet article and actually read the numbers, 107 men out of more than 160 artists total -- an almost two-to-one ratio -- now that is a shock. (image is Nicole Eisenmann's "Untitled" 2004, a watercolor on paper, exhibited at the Armory last weekend. Thanks James Wagner for this and the next image)
Follow that up with the comment in the article by the P.S.1 curator Klaus Biesenbach: "Any discrepancy is due to the quality of the art," and I'm sorry, but do I hear an echo of Harvard President Lawrence Summers implying that the natural inferiority of women is the reason there are not more of them in the sciences? Is Biesenbach implying women naturally make inferior art? I don't suppose it could be that male curators have a pre-disposition to like what male artists are making and see art by men as, well, better quality because it's made by, well, you know, a man?
Just when I think things may be getting better out there for women -- and it might well be that it is better in the galleries -- I am reminded that it often takes a death for a woman to get her due in a museum. (image is Alice Neel's "Eka," 1964, showed this weekend at the Armory. Neel, by the way, had a major museum retrospective at the PMA recently -- her post-death exhibit.)
Brainstormers was founded by Maria Dumlao, Jane Johnston, Elaine Kaufmann, and Danielle Mysliwiec, all recent graduates of the Hunter College MFA program. I hope they can raise some hell with this.