If you’ve been wanting to appreciate art lately but’ve been deterred by the genitals of people creating it, take heart: In order to fight the patriarchy, the Baltimore Museum of Art has made a promise — in 2020, they will refuse to purchase any composition if it was made by a guy.
That’s right: If you’re a male artist, your masterpiece won’t be welcome.
Director Christopher Bedford told the Baltimore Sun this is how it’s done, son:
“This is how you raise awareness and shift the identity of an institution. You don’t just purchase one painting by a female artist of color and hang it on the wall next to a painting by Mark Rothko. To rectify centuries of imbalance, you have to do something radical.”
If you’re wondering who the late Mark Rothko is, he’s this dude:
Photograph of Mark Rothko, painter, by Conseulo Kanaga
circa 1940 ‘s
Brooklyn Museum pic.twitter.com/ITP5Xkf9S3
— María A. (@zarandillo) March 31, 2019
There’s even a play about him right now, starring the great Alfred Molina:
🔴 “Red” takes a look at Mark Rothko’s relationship with his paintings and his assistant.
— ALL ARTS (@AllArtsTV) November 27, 2019
Mark won’t be getting a boost in Baltimore any time soon. Not — as noted by NPR — unless it’s free:
The policy will apply only to works purchased by the museum, not gifts.
BMA is really going all out this year to bring balance to the Force:
The move is part of a larger initiative launched in October called 2020 Vision, a series of 22 exhibits at the museum celebrating [women] artists. The initiative includes 13 solo exhibitions and seven thematic shows, with more being planned. Next year marks a century since women were guaranteed the right to vote in the United States, with the ratification of the 19th Amendment.
As it stands, the museum boasts 95,000 works. However, only 3,800 — just 4% — come compliments of female artists.
And nationwide, it’s even worse. Not only with regard to sex, but race:
A 2019 study of 18 major U.S. art museums found that 87% of artists in their collections are men, and 85% of the artists are white. Another study earlier this year found that up to 10% of art galleries don’t have a single woman among the artists they represent.
BMA Chief Curator Asma Naeem explained the sexist oppression is outright built-in:
“The challenges are systemic and widespread, because many of the works in local donors, local patrons’ collections are traditionally made by male artists. There are these various subtle but consistent, pervasive markers of what is considered creative achievement, and we are trying to reset all of those markers.”
Back to my first paragraph, artist Elissa Blount Moorehead — who’s set to be featured this year — believes the museum’s commitment will be great for the art world at large. That’s because, in her view, one reason people have stopped going to museums is because they’re sick of men:
“I’m hoping that all of us can start to think about how patriarchy and hierarchy has really diminished people’s interest in museums and cultural centers. This will enliven your audience. It’s just the right thing to do.”
So there ya go. But wait — I’ve saved a glimmer of hope for the end. If you’re a male artist and would like to have your work purchased by the Baltimore Museum of Art, it sounds as if they may cough up some dough if you announce you’ve become a girl.
I used brackets in the quote above, but here it is with its original text:
The move is part of a larger initiative launched in October called 2020 Vision, a series of 22 exhibits at the museum celebrating female-identifying artists.
You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons, but good luck, chick.
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