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Women can't paint: gender, the glass ceiling and values in contemporary art

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

Publication date6/02/2020
PublisherI. B. Tauris
Number of pages296
ISBN (Print)9781788310802
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Publication series

NameInternational Library of Modern and Contemporary Art
PublisherI.B. Tauris


Artist Georg Baselitz recently declared that women simply cannot paint, and we are told by influential art critics that women are incapable of aesthetic greatness. Artworld discrimination is rife, and a myriad of descending glass ceilings mean that today’s female artists are even less likely to succeed now than they were in the nineties. This book cuts speculation and evidences that there are few aesthetic differences in the work of women and men, yet women’s artwork can fetch up to 80 per cent less than men’s. The brand of masculinity is so powerful that when work is signed by a male artist it goes up in value, yet work signed by a female artist goes down in value. Museums are complicit in collecting disproportionate and tokenist female artwork which impacts upon the artist’s market values, yet our great institutions display work by the Guerrilla Girls to create the illusion of equality support. Older women artists especially are struggling for visibility as their appearance is often judged above the artwork itself, while younger female artists create their own eventual demise through promoting youth and sexualized selfies. A vicious cycle suggests the artworld is spinning out of control: women are failing to support one and other and the Queen Bee’s sting is deadly. This artworld expose is a groundbreaking, controversial and provocative text, challenging many existing methodologies and theories, and introducing startling new ones. It evidences how the price of being a woman artist – the cost of one’s gender - is shown to run deep through the ascribed values throughout all forms of artistic currency; the social, symbolic and economic. Women Can’t Paint is certain to stir up the position for female artists and those who collect their work – or who may start doing so after reading this book.