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Sunday, June 28, 2009
The following contribution to this global conversation comes from Artnet News (www.artnet.com) and was posted on June 23, 2009
"New York Magazine (and Artnet Magazine) art critic Jerry Saltz has long crusaded for better representation of women artists in the art world, notably parsing the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Biennial, P.S.1’s "Greater New York" and even shows at Chelsea galleries for gender bias. Recently, he has taken the issue to his Facebook page, where a wide-ranging discussion has been launched.
More important, perhaps, are the statistics that Saltz has marshaled to make his case -- stats that show the Museum of Modern Art doing an exceptionally poor job of giving women artists their rightful place in the patriarchal story of modern art. According to Saltz’s numbers, MoMA has 383 works of art hanging on its fourth and fifth floors, where the museum presents its comprehensive history of 20th-century art -- and a pathetic four percent of the works are by women.
Specifically, of the 135 artists with works hung on those two floors, only nine are women: Louise Bourgeois, Sonia Delaunay-Tack, Natalia Goncharova, Eva Hesse, Frida Kahlo, Lee Krasner, Marisol, Agnes Martin, Lyubov Popova and Hannah Wilke. The museum has no shortage of women in its collection; they’re just not on the walls. On Facebook, Saltz lists 75 women artists in the MoMA collection whose art could easily be added to the museum’s influential art history lesson.
The list -- and quite an impressive one it is -- includes Anni Albers, Romaine Brooks, Claude Cahun, Leonora Carrington, Elaine de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Grace Hartigan, Barbara Hepworth, Gwen John, Hannah Hoch, Dora Maar, Joan Mitchell, Grandma Moses, Alice Neel, Louise Nevelson, Georgia O’Keeffe, Niki de Saint-Phalle, Florine Stettheimer, Dorothea Tanning and Bridget Riley.
Now, Saltz has sent an open letter to Ann Temkin, MoMA’s chief curator of painting and sculpture, urging that "something has to be done -- soon." Saltz notes that he is well aware that the museum is publishing a book on all the women artists in its collection, that MoMA photo department plans an "all women hang" this year, and that the curators consider the entire museum as "the permanent collection," which presumably brings the numbers up a bit. He also implies that the museum may be waiting for more exhibition space in a new building planned to the west of the current facility, an option that Saltz calls unsatisfactory. Will Temkin find a way to do better by the numbers? Stay tuned."