Gender & The Artworld–Redux

Greg Allen’s article in today’s NY Times "The X Factor: Is the Art Market Rational or Biased?" is enough to make any woman artist fighting mad.

The grand discrepancy between works by women and men that are actually making it to the auction block is staggering. THEN, when it gets to auction, the discrepancy in what it fetches is phenomenal. We’re talking first-rate women artists here!

Interestingly, Michael Plummer, the president and chief operating officer of
Fernwood Art Investments, raises a pretty basic question. "While women have taken positions of
prominence in the art world," he said, "collecting remains a
male-dominated activity, and it appears that’s going to continue for
some time. I would ask what might be the impact of having the large
part of the customer base be men."

Should we be cultivating more female collectors?

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2 comments to Gender & The Artworld–Redux

  • While Mr. Plummer (the Fernwood Art Investment CEO) makes a very good point (that collecting remains a male-dominated activity) as regards investments, which at this point in time is often regarded as a male-dominated activity, I believe that much of the actual decisions are influenced by both men and women. A case in point is the Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Music and Dance Theatre in Chicago. Mr. Harris put in $39 million,”…because of her…” gesturing to his wife of 29 years. So, yes, going after, or, cultivating, women as decision makers / buyers, is a very smart idea. Decisions are made in a combination of initial impulse and motivation, and then reviewed for safety; the greater the risk, the greater the review. As I reflect on these issues, I even surprised myself as to what that means for us women artists. When I began in this business of art over 30 years ago, I noticed that my handsome and charming, and not-so-handsome but charming men friends cozied up to the gallery owners/decision makers – many of them middle-aged or older women – who adored the attention of the men. They had an unfair advantage of testosterone-based availability, gay or straight. At the nanosecond level of human response, they began the advantage to attention which set them up for relationships, also a nanosecond issue. We are not fighting culture and trend here so much as biology, a more insidiouis foe. The stakes are great for art purchase. The biological dynamics of investment for men (using their male energy as influence) is that they will focus and invest in what they believe will promote their biological cause of continued survival in the currency of money and wealth to (caves, huts, cows, sheep, goats, the better situated hill or tree, and now a diamond ring for engagement, houses, vacations, etc.). The biological dynamics for women’s investment (also known as female energy at work) focuses on security and safety. Which leads us to the question,”.. Does this mean that women make/influnce the ultimate choices…? ” I didn’t make this up. I have read the data, and the inflluences are as old as our species. Our cells have been promoting this for the last 10,000 years. Heck, even my greyhound knows this – his breed/species has been living with ours for the last 5000 years, and he’s got us humans nailed. Given that women have more room these days to exert their personal energetic make up, it might be worthwhile to consider upon what grounds they make their money decisions, what they need to make their decisions, what influences their motivations, which is our goal here. In dating, as with other personal choices, women are re-learning how to use their male energy in a male-dominated arena such as business, with how to use their female energy as regards more intimate and particularly physical, relationships. Women are genetically programmed for physical/emotional bonding. It is a bio-flip switch via chemistry, no doubt set up to secure the future of the species. This system wreaks havoc in our curent female goals of seeking security via freedom from male authority/dominance. Is that so bad? Is it just a glaring inconvenience, or is there danger to females, a flaw in the security system with male dominant authority? Many men tell me no, that women can make their own decisions as well or better than a man. Is this issue a man talking in the male energy arena, the “winner takes all” mode? Where do we stand with influence versus manipulation or intimidation? My grandmother was apt in her knowledge of human relationships, to my current chagrin. She often said.”…make him think he thought of it…” It has proven to be a wise and efficient method. Why didn’t I understand that sooner? Even my designer-dog-food -eating pooch knows how to get what he wants from either gender! Janet Sellers

  • p.s. I’d like to add that, besides,”…show me the money!” there is another quote that fits here,”…You had me at ‘Hello’…” from the movie Jerry McGuire… -Janet Sellers