Get the Facts
Did you know?
• 51% of visual artists today are women.
Only 28% of museum solo exhibitions spotlighted women in eight selected museums throughout the 2000s. 1
• “The men liked to put me down as the best woman painter. I think I’m one of the best painters.”—Georgia O’Keeffe 2
Only 27 women are represented in current edition of H.W. Janson’s survey, History of Art—up from zero in the 1980s.
• From 16–19th centuries, women were barred from studying the nude model, which formed the basis for academic training and representation. 3
Though women earn half of the MFAs granted in the US, only a quarter of solo exhibitions in New York galleries feature women. 4
• “This is so good you wouldn’t know it was done by a woman.”—artist-instructor Hans Hofmann’s “compliment” to Lee Krasner 2
Women lag behind men in directorships held at museums with budgets over $15 million, holding 24% of art museum director positions and earning 71¢ for every dollar earned by male directors. 5
• Georgia O’Keeffe’s Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 is more than three times the previous auction record for a work by a female artist, which was the $11.9 million paid for Joan Mitchell’s Untitled (1960) at Christie’s earlier in 2014. 6 It doesn’t, however, come close to the world auction record, held, naturally, by a male artist: $179.4 million with Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger. 7
Venice Biennale: The 2009 edition featured 43% women; in 2013, it dropped to 26%. In 2014, it is 33%. 8
• In a report from October 2014, Gallery Tally looked at over 4,000 artists represented in L.A. and New York—of those, 32.3% were women. 8
The good news is that, while in 2005, women ran 32% of the museums in the United States, they now run 42.6%—albeit mainly the ones with the smallest budgets. 8
Here’s What the Guerrilla Girls Have to Say
The Guerrilla Girls is a group of women artists and arts professionals who fight discrimination.
The group reframes the question: “Why haven’t there been more great women artists throughout Western history?” Instead, they ask: “Why haven’t more women been considered great artists throughout Western history?”
The Guerrilla Girls created the poster, Horror on the National Mall! (shown above), in honor of NMWA’s 20th Anniversary. The poster even highlights our living founder: “Ever wonder why Billie Holladay started the National Museum of Women in the Arts? Now you know!”
Check out some of the Guerrilla Girls’s facts:
- Less than 3% of the artists in the Modern Art section of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art are women, but 83% of the nudes are female.
In 1723, Dutch painter Margareta Haverman was expelled from the Académie Royale when the painting she submitted was judged too good to have been done by a woman.
Things have not changed much since 12th century England: women who embroidered earned 83% less per day than their male peers.
1 The Reckoning: Women Artists of the New Millennium, 2013.
2 The Guerrilla Girls’ Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art, 1998.
3 Women, Art, and Society, 4th edition, 2007.
4 Brainstormers Research, 2006 and Saltz, Village Voice, September 21, 2006.
5 The Gender Gap in Art Museum Directorships, 2014. Statistics reflect Association of Art Museum Director membership museums with budgets over $15 million.
6 Steinhauer, “$44M O’Keeffe Painting More Than Triples Auction Record for Woman Artist,” Hyperallergic, November 20, 2014.
7 McDermon, “A Decade of Top Art Auction Sales Worth $1.2 Billion,” The New York Times, May 12, 2015.
8 Reilly, “Taking the Measure of Sexism: Facts, Figures, and Fixes,” ARTnews, May 26, 2015.