The gender imbalance of art with nudity has these female artists taking a stand for change

Shawna X’s Self-Entitled on display on Ludlow Street in the Lower East Side. absolutart.com

In 1989, feminist activists the Guerrilla Girls reported that less than 5 percent of the works in the modern art section at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art were by created by female artists, but 85 percent of the nudes on display featured women. Twenty-three years later the group went back and did a recount, but found the numbers had barely changed.

In response to this uneven representation of female artists but overwhelming interest in female nudes, Tictail — the shopping destination to discover the greatest emerging brands in fashion and art — and Absolut Art, an online retailer that collaborates with talented artists from around the world to make fine art accessible, launched Women x Women on May 19 in New York City. According to the press release, “The discovery-based art fair aims to call attention to the narrow lens through which women are depicted in art, and scrutinized by the world at large.”

The art being shown has been created by a diverse and talented group of hand-selected female painters such as Miranda July, Carly Kuhn, and Carla Fuentes, and it can be seen around a variety of locations on Manhattan’s Lower East Side until June 1, 2017. Each unique piece is meant to reflect the artist’s qualms with women’s portrayal in art and reaction to the male gaze.

“We believe the problem isn’t that diversity of thought doesn’t exist in the art world, but rather that it’s rarely given the platform it deserves,” the release continues. “That’s why we’re so excited to, quite literally, give these women the streets of New York to showcase their unique and powerful points of view.”

Due to the message behind the fair, there was a concerted effort to ensure a diverse group of artists got the opportunity to showcase their work. “We’re a Swedish company and in Sweden gender equality is a high priority: The World Economic Forum lists Sweden as №4 in the world for gender equality while the U.S. doesn’t even crack the top 10. Given this statistic and our roots, we chose a selection of artists from both countries as we thought it would be incredibly interesting to see how the cultural disparity would translate into art about the male gaze,” Absolut Art CEO Nahema Mehta tells A Plus. “We also felt that generational diversity was key to the narrative, so you’ll see artists in their 20s alongside those in their 50s.”

When asked about her original piece for Women x Women, which depicts a group of men in the foreground with their eyes trained on a group women in the background, Los Angeles-based artist Jeanette Getrost said, “I wanted to create a piece that resembles a vintage advertisement, because I don’t believe much has changed in the way that women are represented in the media. In addition, the concept of a group of men gazing at women is really a social statement on how men view women generally. I often have conversations with women about how when you leave the house and are just going about your day it is likely that you will receive unwanted attention from men.”

The art, which you can see around the Lower East Side in photos above and below, is intended to make viewers stop and think, and there’s a charitable component as well. In solidarity with women across the globe, 10 percent of the proceeds from the fair will be donated to the international nonprofit organization Women for Women. The charitable endeavor has helped more than 462,000 marginalized women in countries affected by war and conflict since its creation in 1993.

As for what she hopes viewers will take away from Women x Women? Mehta says, “I hope it gives men and women an excuse to have a conversation about gender equality. I hope this group of brave and powerful artists will inspire people to share their own stories and move the conversation forward.”

She adds, “Something magical happens when people are open and honest about issues that matter — you find power in vulnerability and it lights the fire for change.”

Though there are no current plans to bring Women x Women to additional cities across the globe, Mehta notes there are “certainly many more stories to tell.”

To learn more about Women x Women, including where you can see the art on display and how you can purchase it, click here.

Head over to A Plus to see more of the art.

By A Plus’ SAMANTHA LEFFLER

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