What have we learned from the Guerrilla Girls work, “The Male Graze”?
Guerrilla Girls’ new body of work titled "The Male Graze" has been one of the biggest highlights of this year's Art Night edition. "The Male Graze" is Guerrilla Girls largest public commission in the UK. It is running both online and offline until the 18th of July. Scattered in public places around the UK, we’re sure you have come across one of their fantastic billboards displayed! If you haven't, make sure you check our previous article to find their exact locations.
Guerrilla Girls are asking the public to go to museums and count how many women artists there are in relation to the number of naked women. ‘What do you do with these numbers?’ - you may be wondering. You can submit them (here!) online, and at the end of the month, we will be able to see the results from this collaborative research. Guerrilla Girls have been fighting sexism and racism within the art world since 1985. "The Male Graze" is a new initiative in this continuous fight against female objectification for the sake of men’s pleasure. But what have we learnt so far during this project? Let's recap!
1. Good artists = Bad Behaviour
First, not all good artists have inadequate behaviour- of course! But the names that the Guerrilla Girls exposed were quite shocking. We were particularly shocked by how Lucian Freud viewed and treated women throughout his career. Beyond the fact that he conceived 14 children with six different women, Freud allegedly said, "women go downhill after 16", and he enjoyed painting his underaged daughters naked. Indeed, he appears to have been involved in some quite questionable behaviour.
Other shocking names were revealed, such as Picasso, Pollock, Kooning and Hopper. These names are incredibly famous, yet all were violent towards their wives.
2. Museum's labels hide male bad behaviour
Lots of people think that museums are supposedly transparent places where you can safely learn about art. Yet, Guerrilla Girls have shown us that this is not always entirely true. Like any of us, art institutions struggle to decide if it is right to expose the true personality and life of all these admired male artists. So far, most have opted to portray a neutral side of the story. Guerrilla Girls are instead proposing more transparent labels with detailed information about how women were mistreated to create such paintings.
3. Art teachers abuse female students
We were shocked by learning about Lucian Freud's reputation of abusing female students at Slade School of Art. Guerrilla Girls exposed how Freud, and many other artists such as Chuck Close, objectified their students by often touching their bodies without consent, forcing relationships, and abusing them afterwards. Art schools have been a crucial starting point in shaping how women and the female body are viewed within the art world. For instance, art schools can be seen to play a role in perpetuating female objectification through the typically lopsided distribution between female and male models requested for anatomy drawing classes.
We are curious to see what you think about what you learnt with the Guerrilla Girls so far. We have some burning questions for you: should an artist's life or behaviours be taken into consideration when evaluating an artist and his/her work ? Is art less valuable if we find out the artist engaged in poor/questionable behaviors?
While you are here, tell us which one is your favourite section about “The Male Graze”.
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