Monday, April 30, 2007

Is the Quebec Art World Sexist?


It appears that I am getting closer to getting a clearer picture - although once again the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal is showing itself to be incompetent. But to backtrack slightly...

September 21st, 2006 - Jerry Saltz, then art critic for the Village Voice writes a very thoroughly researched article that concludes that the New Work art world is sexist. (5% of the permanent collection on display at MOMA is by women, that's not good.)

October 12, 2006 - Nicolas Mavrikakis a freelancer (who I do not like) writing for Voir decides to jump on the bandwagon and accuses the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal of being sexist. His article was badly researched, and did nothing beyond stating that all the temporary exhibits at MACM this year were by men.

I responded to his article here.

February 22nd, 2007 - Isa Tousignant, the Arts and Culture editor at Hour (a friend and usually top notch writer) piles on as well, paying no attention to anything that happened before 2006 and not even looking at the permanent collection.

At about this time, I sorta go ballistic. So I write to Danielle Legentil at MACM: I get this response back: "Concernant votre demande de répertoire de la Collection du Musée, toutes les informations concernant les acquisitions (achats et dons) sont consignées dans les rapports annuels du Musée que vous pouvez consulter à la Médiathèque du mardi au vendredi de 11 h à 16 h 30." Except for the fact it isn't. At their library they have one book that lists the collection up until 1991 (or so) another book that lists the Lavalin Collection that they got, and then there are all the annual reports since then. Cross referencing something like 18 different books is not something I have time to do, unfortunately.

They do have a database, however no one will let me look at it, and no one will print up a copy for me, and no one will do the counting - pity. Because with all the other museums I asked, it was rather straightforward and easy.

So, drum roll please:

Musée d'art de Joliette: Their post 1960 permanent collection consists of work by approximately 413 male artists and 145 female artists. Or 26% female and 74% male.

The Loto-Quebec Collection
: I don't know exactly when they started collecting, but they have have work by about 500 women artists and 424 men. 54% female and 46% male.

Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal: They didn't quite follow the same style as everybody else, but... They broke things down into individual works. Paintings, Sculptures and Installations instead of a straight and easy count of the artists. They also did not supply me with raw numbers. 15% of the paintings that they have aquired since 1960 were made by women. 12% of the sculptures that they aquired since 1960 have been made by women. And 27% of the installations that they have aquired since 1960 have been made by women.

If the cut off date is moved to 1998, then 36% of the paintings, 14% of the sculptures and 42% of the installations aquired by Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal have been made by women.

If you compare the Montreal art world to that of the New York art world, no matter how you cut it, Montreal is way less sexist than New York, which only leads me to ask what does the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal have to hide?

I'd also like to thank Wanda Palma of the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, Gaetane Verna and Lynda Corcoran of the Musée d'art de Joliette for help in getting the figures and statistics.

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