The Guerrilla Girls were founded in New York in 1985 as anonymous mask-wearing women, who took the names of famous female artist as pseudonyms –one might be called Frida Kahlo and another will be Georgia O’Keeffe. The members are individual working artists, but they keep their identities secret when working in the group.
The work of this collective has focused on shaming galleries that do not put enough work by women artists, as well as critics who do not write sufficiently about them. As Iwona Blazwick, director of the Whitechapel Gallery, puts it, the group wants to remind the world that there is a battle out there that still needs to be fought, since women have been systematically excluded from galleries and museums.
With the group’s first dedicated UK show opening in October, at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, the Guerrilla Girls want to expose inequality in the art world. This summer they will be surveying more than 400 European galleries to see if museums are showing the full diversity of art history and art production. Guerrilla Girls’ previous research found that in galleries, female artists work had made up only 10% of all exhibitions.
Despite the higher access for women to higher education in arts, there is still constant discrimination of female artist, be that financial or their talent is just not recognised as their male peers' is. Women have been advised to sign their works only by surname to avoid discrimination. The arts scene has been long dominated by men, who are seen more represented in museums and art galleries. Taking a look at the past few years of special-exhibition schedules at major art institutions, in the UK, the Hayward Gallery comes out with the worst mark, with only 22% of solo exhibitions dedicated to female artists over the past 7 years. Whitechapel Gallery is at 40%, and since 2007, the Tate Modern has featured women artists solo exhibitions only 25 percent of the time.
The Guerrilla Girls do not form part of any gallery, but their work is shown in museums such as the Getty and Tate. The Whitechapel Gallery will include a banner and a public presentation about their 31 years of activism on 1 October. From 3-9 October, the group will lead a wee-long public project at the Tate Modern. With this first dedicated UK show opening, the Guerrilla Girls want to expose inequality in the art world. This summer they will be surveying more than 400 European galleries to see if museums are showing the full diversity of art history and art production. Their investigation will ask about the representation of artist who are female, gender non-conforming or from Africa, Asia or South America.
In an ever changing world, women still face subtle and no so subtle forms of discrimination. It is in everybody's interest to promote the work of more women if we want to also change the way we see the world. Art expressions show the different ways people perceive and experience the world. Having just one view of that narrows the possibilities of discovering new positive stories about strong women. This should not be a question of gender or origins, this should be about talent. If the scenes are changing, it is thanks to the work of collectives like the Guerrilla Girls.
-  Brown, M., "Feminist scourges of a too-male art world bring battle to Britain", The Guardian (London), 20 July 2016, pp. 13
-  Reilly, M (2015), Taking the measure of sexism: facts, figures and fixes, Art News, Available online at: http://www.artnews.com/2015/05/26/taking-the-measure-of-sexism-facts-figures-and-fixes/ (Accessed on 20.07.2016)