Baltimore Museum of Art Will Only Acquire Works by Women Artists in 2020

  • November 17, 2019 22:12

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The Baltimore Museum of Art is taking its initiative to focus all its 2020 programs and exhibitions on women artists to a another level.

Elizabeth Talford Scott. Plantation. 1980. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Collectors Circle Fund for Art by African Americans, Baltimore Appliqué Society Fund, and purchased as the gift of the Joshua Johnson Council, and Mr. and Mrs. Irvin Greif, Jr., Lutherville, Maryland, BMA 2012.226. © Estate of Elizabeth Talford Scott
Baltimore Museum of Art

"Museum director Christopher Bedford said Thursday that every artwork the BMA obtains for its permanent collection next year — every painting, every sculpture, every ceramic figurine, whether through a purchase or donation — will have been created by a woman," reports the Baltimore Sun.

Bedford said, “You don’t just purchase one painting by a female artist of color and hang it on the wall next to a painting by Mark Rothko. To rectify centuries of imbalance, you have to do something radical.”

“This is a declaration of intent going forward of the kinds of exhibits we will have and the kind of acquisitions we will make," he said. "There can be no beginning and no end, just a consistency of effort in the right direction.”

An eye-opening study published in March 2019 showed that 85.4% of the works in the collections of all major US museums belong to white artists, and 87.4% are by men. 

Detail of Amy Sherald's 2018 work, "Planes, rockets, and the spaces in between."
Baltimore Museum of Art

African American artists comprised the lowest share at 1.2% of the works; Asian artists had 9%; and Hispanic and Latino artists were represented at 2.8%.

Academics and a curator at Williams College, and one from UCLA, compiled the research from a survey of collections of 18 major US museums. The study reads: "With respect to gender, our overall pool of individual, identifiable artists across all museums consists of 12.6% women. The four largest groups represented across all 18 museums in terms of gender and ethnicity are white men (75.7%), white women (10.8%), Asian men (7.5%), and Hispanic/Latinx men (2.6%). All other groups are represented in proportions less than 1%."

Museums with the highest percentage of women artists include MOCA (24.9%), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) (18.1%), and the Whitney Museum of American Art (22.1%).

Grace Hartigan. Red Bowl. 1953. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Gift of Herman Jervis, New York, in Memory of Dorothy B. Jervis, BMA 1986.194. © Estate of Grace Hartigan

Now including acquisitions, BMA's 2020 Vision comprises a year of exhibitions and programs dedicated to the presentation of the achievements of female-identifying artists. The initiative encompasses 13 solo exhibitions and seven thematic shows beginning in fall 2019, with Their Creative Force: American Women Modernists, featuring nearly 20 works by artists such as Elizabeth Catlett, Maria Martinez, and Georgia O’Keeffe.

Highlights ahead will be a large-scale transformative commission by Mickalene Thomas (opening Nov. 24), a major monographic survey of Joan Mitchell’s career, an exploration of Candice Breitz’s video works, and the reinstallation of several of the museum’s galleries to emphasize the depth and diversity of women’s artistry through time.

Read more at Baltimore Sun


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