Say the phrase “female contemporary artist” and you’re likely to conjure, via Google or collective memory, images of Cecily Brown’s writhing bodies; Tracey Emin’s messy, suggestive bed; Lisa Yuskavage’s kitschy soft porn; or Vanessa Beecroft’s nude installations. The financial success of such in-your-face sexuality — whether viewed with icy remove (Beecroft), humor (Yuskavage), or brassiness (Emin) — dovetailed nicely with the Third Wave feminism popularized in the early nineties. So what’s next for the double-X chromosome creative set in our current period? Photo evidence and a few words from art critic Jerry Saltz after the jump.
We bring up Jerry Saltz as a fellow crusader for the equal representation of women artists in major institutions, specifically MoMA, whose bone he’s been picking since 2004 when he was with the Village Voice. Now senior art critic for New York magazine, Saltz has once again picked up the mantle and has made his case (via Facebook, naturally) against the Painting & Sculpture galleries of the world’s foremost modern art museum. Though he’s arguing for a more balanced ratio of male: female works from the Modernist era, MoMA’s investigation of the issue would set a precedent for gender parity in the contemporary sector.
Though Young British Artists like Emin and Sarah Lucas achieved notoriety and helped pave the way for recent art school grads, their thematic, confessional female spirit is mostly absent from the contemporary pieces shown in our image gallery. Are these new artists less sensationalized because their work is devoid of the unabashed, sexual female perspective? Or are we, in an oh-so-gender-conscious 21st century, still an artistic society in the throes of masculine hero worship?
As The Independent reports in an article detailing the Max Mara art prize for women, the art market is greatly skewed to favor men, as “Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Lucian Freud vie for the title of the world’s most expensive living artist.” To wit, a Jeff Koons sculpture from his “Hanging Heart” series sold two years ago at Sotheby’s for$23.6 million, while the most expensive piece ever sold by a living female artist (a painting by recent MoMA exhibitor Marlene Dumas) clocks in at $3.34 million. Not too shabby, but still a ways to go.
Check out the slideshow and get familiar with the latest crop of female artists on our radar screen.