The gender divide in art
In my recent blog post I questioned whether women artists were taking over.
That was a rhetorical question based on a personal observation that there are often a majority of women artists in the galleries and exhibitions nowadays. That is actually fine by me, but it prompted a couple of other questions.
The first extra question in the blog was whether women have always been just as artistic as men or not. And secondly whether women artists have been under-recognised because of the societal power base held by males.
Answer and conclusion was yes to both questions.
By focusing on the gender divide we can see that for centuries the general European population was deprived of art by women. That was very unfair for women artists and stupidly narrow minded by men.
It gets worse.
Further reading on this subject has thrown up some more interesting facts.
In the established artworld there is still a noticeable gender divide. Women artist’s account for just about one third of Tate Modern’s collection.
And in the National Gallery of Scotland only 4% of their collection are artworks by women.
And then it gets better.
However, in the new online artworld the website gallery Artfinder have said that women artists sell more than men artists from the Artfinder site. And Artfinder represent over 10,000 artists worldwide.
Nowadays it seems that female artists can survive and thrive.
Maybe they are doing so well because the female creative mind has other advantages. Or maybe male artists are just slipping behind. Perhaps they are victims of other social pressures and their artistic creativity is thwarted.
And this springs from looking at the concept of a gender divide in the art world.
But it sparked off another idea. Why is this so interesting? The human mind has a natural inclination to divide in order to find patterns and understand. Because we are constantly trying to understand more.
So my focus turned onto this issue of splitting things into two. Artists into either male or female were in this example. But there are many other two-way split potentials.
How about dividing artists into left handed or right handed. East or West of a line down the middle of the Atlantic. Older or younger than say 45 years old. Tall or shorter, Art College or self taught, North or South of Birmingham. You name it there are many such divisions. Each one can tell us a bit more about our artworld.
Of course the natural temptation is to notice something interesting and find a division that supports our preconceived personal position. We all do this. But the true explorer should examine more options.
My initial blog topic was conceived because of something noticeable in my involvement in Skylark One Gallery in London. In the group we have two male artists and twelve female artists. So this unbalanced gender divide became the obvious focus for the blog.
But possibly the fourteen artists in the group could be examined and understood equally as well if we did an age above or below whatever number. Or living North or South of the Thames, or something else.
Maybe ‘Art College’ or ‘Self Taught’ would be a good one.
[Note to self… start exploring this topic for future blog posts.]
And, we could take a much wider range of artists, like say the Tate Modern artists, or the Artfinder artists. Then with more data we might split the total database into two parts in order to attempt to discover other constructive insights into the artistic life.