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Women In Art Essay

2322 words - 9 pages

Women in Art


Throughout history many artistic works have been deemed "great" and many individuals have been labeled "masters" of the discipline. The question of who creates art and how is it to be classified as great or greater than another has commonly been addressed by scholars and historians. The last quarter of the 20th century has reexamined these questions based on the assertions that no women artists have ever created or been appreciated to the level of "greatness" that perpetually befalls their male counterparts. The position that society has institutionalized on women as unable to be anything but subordinate and unexpressive is a major contributor to this claim. Giving a brief history of gender discrimination in the art field, examining different theories in regard to why women have been excluded from art history throughout the ages, and finally, discussing the contributions and progress that women artists and historians have achieved in the past two decades, will help to better understand the complexity and significance of women artists.

The early years of the 1990's mark the 20th anniversary of the women's movement in art. The exact date of the movement can not be ascertained due to the fact that there was such an immense number of things happening for the Women's Liberation movement at that time. Nevertheless, the achievements of the 1970's women's art movement were enormous and it is one of the most influential movements of that decade. Twenty years later, the struggle for representation in the arts continues. In 1990, a U.S. study was conducted on Gender Discrimination in the Artfield. The results are as follows:

50.7% of all visual artists are female and women hold 53.1% of the degrees in art, yet
80% of art faculty are males. Male artists make 68.6% of the total art income, and male artists receive 73% of grants/fellowships. According to the Guerrilla Girls, art museums average 15% women in curated exhibits, and minority women only .003%. On top of that, only 4% of museum acquisitions are of work by women artists (Strawter).

The study of why women artists have systematically been erased from history and why currently the exhibition of women's art is not valued as much as the male artists' continues. There have been many theories behind the eradication of women artists from history. At the beginning of the Women's Liberation Movement, an art historian by the name of Linda Nochlin published an article called, "Why have there been no great women artists?" In here article, she addressed her own question offering one of the first consciously feminist challenges to the established canons of art history. Her query proved to be a rallying cry for women artists in the fervent days of the Women's Liberation movement and offered fragments of a manifesto to women artists, and others, intent on reexamining and ultimately restructuring the discipline (Morse, 1992). Nochlin argues that contemporary...

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