The art world has always been a male domain. This is reflected in awards, in exhibitions or in museum management. A key factor in the success of an artist is visibility. In the exhibition business, analogous to the pay gap, there is also talk of a gender show gap. Accordingly, female artists have a much smaller chance of counting themselves among the most influential of their time.
For almost 40 years, the performance artists Guerrilla Girls have been fighting against the discrimination of female artists – mostly with cheeky, humorous posters, performances and actions. Their focus is on the USA, but they have also had their sights set on Europe for a long time. On the occasion of International Women’s Day next week – on March 8, 2023 – we want to introduce the busy collective.
The Guerrilla Girls are a group of anonymous feminist action artists who appear in public with gorilla masks and usually use the names of deceased artists such as Frida Kahlo, Eva Hesse or Käthe Kollwitz as aliases. First with simple posters, then with an ever-increasing artistic range, the guerrilla girls fight against the dominance of white men in the art world.
The collective from the USA campaigns against sexism, racism, discrimination, abuse of power and corruption in the art world with humorous and accusatory works. The artists formed the group in 1985 in response to the inaugural exhibition “An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture” at the extended building of MoMA (Museum of Modern Art), which was intended to provide an overview of the world’s most important contemporary works of art and artists. Only 13 female artists were represented among the total of 165 exhibited artists.
“Do women have to be naked to enter the museum?”
“Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?” (“Do women have to be naked to get into a museum?”) – with this legendary poster, the Guerrilla Girls in New York in 1989 drew attention to the fact that although women are a popular motif, there are only a few female positions in museums, galleries and art institutions to be issued. The Guerrilla Girls recently developed their own work for the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MK&G), which critically evaluates the museum’s collection.
In the current exhibition “The F*word – Guerrilla Girls and Feminist Graphic Design” at MK&G, the artists’ group’s posters form the starting point of the group show, which includes around 400 works from 1870 to the present day.
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