Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Cold, Hard Truth About Collecting Women Artists

The Village Voice recently published a piece by Jerry Saltz highlighting astonishing figures for womens' presence on the New York contemporary art circuit. The opener is a zinger:

When it comes to being artists, women can be as bad as men. The problem is that even now, decades after the onset of women's liberation, women aren't being allowed to demonstrate this.
It discusses some new figures:
According to the fall exhibition schedules for 125 well-known New York galleries—42 percent of which are owned or co-owned by women—of 297 one-person shows by living artists taking place between now and December 31, just 23 percent are solos by women.
And makes its case:
Art historian Griselda Pollock has written about "women's struggle for meaning"; whatever we call this struggle, it needs to be seen as a failure of the imagination that amounts to apartheid. We all have to feel threatened by the bias. We must see it as a moral emergency. Having mainly men show means that more than half the story is going untold. Whatever story women tell will be told in ways it never has before.
It's an invigorating and bracing piece, and you should read it. But what I loved even more was reading Lisa Hunter (aka The Intrepid Art Collector) turn this issue, quite pragmatically, on its head: If women artists are underrepresented, she argues, they are undervalued; this means that collecting art produced by talented women artists is not only a good investment but is, on balance, a better investment than artwork by equally talented men. She argues:
Long term, market forces are on the side of today's female artists. Look back at the past few decades in the art market: Whenever collectors were priced out of one area, they started reconsidering other artists, driving up prices there too. (Don't believe me? Try pricing Outsider paintings.) I feel sure that will happen for today's women artists when prices for male art stars go stratospheric. And once collectors start buying undervalued female art, galleries will start stocking more, in response to customer demand.
I'm happy to report that Think In Pictures has several interviews with women artists in the works. I intend to continue to support women artists as well as emerging artists in general through a steady stream of artist interviews. Look for two new interviews with emerging female painters from me in the next two weeks.

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