Women Artists Visibility Event: The Museum of Modern Art opens but not to women artists, NYC on June 14, 1984
Shot by Clarissa Sligh
Despite the increased visibility of women artists by 1984, most were not included in mainstream gallery or museum exhibitions. When the Museum Of Modern Art opened the exhibition the “International Survey of Painting and Sculpture,” with great fan fare, of the 169 artists chosen, all were white and less than 10 percent were women.
Women artists were incensed. The Women’s Caucus for Art and other women’s groups in the area organized to protest the underrepresentation of women artists.
Included in the photographs are Lucy Lippard, May Stevens, Linda Cunningham, Emma Amos, Sabra Moore, Sharon Jaddis, and Alida Walsh. The posters were pasted all over Soho, a vastly different place from the Soho of today.
What’s really cool is that this protest never really ended.
A ton of the women involved in the protest decided to form an anonymous feminist collective called the Guerrilla Girls. Their main purpose is to creatively address underrepresentation and dismantle sexism in the art world.
Since 1985 they’ve used wit, humor, and cold hard statistics to draw attention to these issues. Over the decades, they’ve managed to piss off tons of museum curators and critics, and have basically flipped the art world upside down with their antics. Their infamously sarcastic posters have actually been collected as art pieces in museums around the world.
Once when the Whitney Museum asked the Girls to create a gallery show for them, they used the opportunity to throw some serious shade on the museum. For the show, they created informational posters and artwork that bashed the Whitney for its shitty record of sexism, and the posters were then displayed right there in the Whitney itself. Boom.
They look badass too. To remain anonymous they wear gorilla masks and use the names of historically famous female artists. The group is massive now and is super diverse demographically. Also many of the girls are hugely successful female artists while others may be just starting out. Despite all their differences, they have managed to kick High Art’s ass for 30 years straight.
Here’s one of their interviews: http://www.guerrillagirls.com/interview/