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One reason that we might want to sort art and artists into groups is so that we can understand more.

There are lots of ways to divide things up so that we can understand them better. We do it all the time. First and easiest method is to divide things into two halves. And then see if there is any crucial difference.

This can be called ‘bi-lateral division’. It is rather simplistic. Examples are; Black or White, North or South, Male or Female, Left or Right, Right or Wrong, etc.

In another instance… people are from the East or the West. They were either born in the Western hemisphere or the Eastern hemisphere. An answer to the simple question could be determined by seeing which side of the Greenwich Meridian they were born. East or West? How about you?

Hmmm! Well I was born in Bromley, Kent. That is just a few miles due south of Greenwich. But I don’t know exactly where in Bromley I was born. So I cannot tell whether I was born in the East or the West.

And of course, if you are an Easterner then if you keep going East you become a Westerner. And vice versa.

The East West bilateral approach seemed so easy, but it obviously isn't.

So that is no good.

How about sorting things out by dividing people into two age groups. Are you Young or Old?

Lets be more exact. Are you over half way through your life, or under half way?

The expected age, or LEB, life expectancy at birth, in 2010 was 67.2 years.

So are you over, or under, thirty-three years and eight months old?

Surely everyone will start in one camp and end in the other. Hmmm! This is not helping me understand people any better.

I have already written previously about the difference between Left Brain and Right Brain. And how that bi-lateral division might explain quite a lot about art and artists.

But new recent research into brain function and cognitive behaviour has suggested possible flaws in previous understanding.

Male female logo

But, how about sorting people out by gender? Are you Male or Female? Ah yes that is much more simple and clearly defined.

So how does this help us understand more about artists? Are there more men artists, or are there more women artists? How does their work differ? Is there a real long-term difference or not?

What do the exhibition or sales records show? Is gender a major factor?

But I tell myself to beware because bi-lateral simplicity can be such a tempting trap.

It is so tempting to focus on the gender divide. We do it all the time. You and I will be intrigued by the difference between boys and girls, men and women, etc. That is why I called this post Sexism and Greenwich Meridian. Sexism is such an attractive emotive concept. After all you have read down this far haven’t you?

However, putting people into two camps, Male or Female, might be as misleading as whether or not they are born East or West of Greenwich.


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