January 21, 2016

M/F: What Are The Numbers? Jonathan Jones, Sarah Lucas, and Some Counting

We go to the gallery, by M. Elia and E. Elia (Dung Beetle Ltd, London, 2015)

If you haven't read my Sleek article about the first all-female show at Saatchi Gallery yet, check it out here. What actually disturbed me more than the lame Saatchi show, was Jonathan Jones' review about it in The Guardian. I'm wondering if he was paid extra by Saatchi to write it. He made the ridiculous claim that “Saatchi’s Gallery’s all female exhibition could start to shift male gaze of the art world.” But his review is also a serious case of over-interpretation, especially where it concerns Jelana Bulajic’s portraits of what Jones defines as “old women”. Here it’s important to say that he did use the parentheses too, probably to show his awareness of the fact that he’s using a stereotype (women are always described as old, men never age, they just become more charismatic). But why he doesn’t use “elderly” instead of “old” in the first place remains unclear (His word choice is questionable in general, using expressions like “black hole.”) Jones always has a penchant for the dramatic (check out his article on the lack of outrageous art, where he did make a good point) but in his Saatchi review he goes over the top with the pathos: “These [“old women’s"] faces seem to represent not just themselves but all the oppressed generations who never got the chance to pick up a paintbrush or sell an unmade bed at Christie’s.” Is that cynicism right there? No favour is done by presenting women as poor victims, and certainly not in a cynical way. 

In my Sleek review I counted the female and male artists in Johnen Galerie and Johann König. For the blog's sake, I counted some more, and I made the surprising discovery that my favourite (feminist) artist Sarah Lucas is represented by the most male dominated gallery in Berlin, Contemporary Fine Arts. I wonder if she knows?

Sprüth Magers: 43 male artists, 17 female artists

Galerie Neu: 22 male artists, 11 female artists

Eigen + Art Galerie: 16 male artists, 10 female artists

Esther Schipper: 17 male artists, 6 female artists

Blain Southern: 22 male artists, 7 female artists

Thomas Fischer Galerie:  8 male artists, 2 female artists

Isabella Bortollozzi Galerie: 18 male artists, 8 female artists

Contemporary Fine Arts: 26 male artists, 6 female artists


  1. Guido Baudach: 13 male, 2 female. It took 6 years to find the first female, another seven to find the second.