Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Um, No.

"The art market is not sexist. The likes of Bridget Riley and Louise Bourgeois are of the second and third rank. There has never been a first-rank woman artist."

"Only men are capable of aesthetic greatness. Women make up 50 per cent or more of classes at art school. Yet they fade away in their late 20s or 30s. Maybe it's something to do with bearing children."

-Brian Sewell

Lest you think I'm somehow taking his remarks out of context, see the full article here.


Melix said...

I’m neither an art historian, nor do I consider myself 100 percent proficient in any sort of criticism; however, I am a KEEN caller of bullshit. This article is indeed pure bullshit in its limited scope and irresponsibly limited breadth of differing points of view. In fact, it seems written merely to inflame. So, I will take that bait and pose a few questions NOT posed in this all too short article.

First, there are no great African/African American artists. There are no great Hispanic artists. There are no great Asian artists. Is anyone getting upset with those statements yet? How about, there are no great disabled artists. Let’s pick on the poor too: the poor suck at art. There are no great poor artists especially if they have a vagina or are a shade of brown.

Is anyone noticing the theme to my sarcasm?

By the way, HOW IS FRIDA KHALO not mentioned as a great artist? Are you kidding me? Really?

Furthermore, who defines “great”? Is it skill, innovation, relationship to subject matter? Why must one achieve greatness? Who has the power here? Should that not be a fundamental question and perhaps integral to the problem?

becca said...

Melix, I think you've hit on something in that last paragraph. There is a clear answer to the question "Who defines 'great'?" and sadly, it's "Men." For most of history, anyway. And still today, far too much, especially in the art world. It does puzzle me why it's so much worse for women visual artists -- painters, filmmakers, etc. -- than other types of artists. I think we have it a bit easier as women poets, although of course things aren't perfect, or else there wouldn't be a reason to start a feminist press for women poets! Is it because there's more of a business/commercial side to dealing in the world of visual art (the gallery, the studio), and men tend to "throw their weigh around" more in the worlds of business & commerce?

I always point people to the Guerrilla Girls for actual things they can do to help or make people more aware. This (http://www.guerrillagirls.com/posters/getnakedupdate.shtml) would be a great poster for people to print out and put in bathroom stalls or leave on benches at the Met, the Art Institute, and beyond! And this book (http://www.guerrillagirls.com/books/bedside.shtml) is essential reading for anyone who cares about women, feminism, and art. When I was in film school, we plastered the halls with these: http://www.guerrillagirls.com/posters/hwdstick.shtml. Go to it, feminists!