Champagne feminist

Sixteen years ago, I wrote an article for a short-lived women’s art magazine called Make responding to a complaint

on the letters page that only childless women
could succeed as artists. Off the top of my head, I immediately thought of half a dozen artists who disproved this rule and I interviewed them for


a piece called A Woman’s Work. They included Shani Rhys-James, Evelyn Williams, Susan Wilson and Sarah Raphael. A quote from Raphael, who had just had a third child, appeared
to clinch the argument: “Motherhood is such an overwhelming purpose that it has to be very powerful, the urge to do the other thing. It /* 9-970x90 */ cuts the google_ad_slot = "7160667483"; crap. google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; I just haven’t got the time to sit around wondering what sort of artist I am. The kids get
their trainers, that’s the main thing. I think it’s horseshit, personally, that you can’t be both.”


about ‘gay art’, perhaps because if you removed all the homosexuals from art history

it would knock a huge hole, so to speak, in the male //--> art pantheon.) We live in an increasingly touchy world. Such are our sensitivities on gender issues that some in the trans community – smaller google_ad_slot = "8637400688"; than the community of giant pandas, but more visible – are


for gender specification to be dropped from official forms. Since one of the presumed google_ad_height = 90; points of official forms is to ensure fairness, others in the feminist community have complained that this will make it harder, all things being unequal, to monitor sexual equality. No sex, no equality – we’re British.

It hardly seems worth getting one’s knickers in a twist when all the data on gender collected to date

has had no visible impact on the only significant measure of equality, the
pay packet. But now women artists have found
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a surprising champion in Charles Saatchi. The wife-throttling philanthropist has chosen to mark his gallery’s 30th anniversary with Champagne Life (until March 6th), an exhibition of 14 emerging women artists from around the world. In the wake of the
gallery’s recent series of exhibitions of contemporary art from Africa and Latin America, Russia, Germany, the Middle East and China, comes a show of
art from the planet Venus. Any Martian glancing google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; through the recent programme might be forgiven google_ad_width = 970; for thinking the female sex was a foreign

Aware of the problem, the show’s publicity stresses that it “does not offer an overarching vista of ‘female’ artistic practice, nor does it presume /* xin-1 */ to state that there is such a thing”. There are plenty of people around, however, who assume there is. Most wouldn’t dare go as far as Brian Sewell and claim: “There has never been a first rank woman artist. Only

men are capable of aesthetic greatness”. But Sewell did
agree with the Make magazine moaner: “Maybe it’s something to do with bearing children.”

Historically, this

was obviously true. Greer’s The Obstacle Race is

​ a catalogue of female artistic ambitions hobbled or snuffed google_ad_slot = "6023194682"; out by childbearing; between domestic commitments to children, husbands, fathers and brothers, a woman’s work as an artist was never done. Equally damaging, in her view, was the imitative hero-worship squandered by women artists on male teachers or husbands – or both, in cases where love-struck women students married their masters. /* xin2 */ “The

they break

down into google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; pointilliste confections of marble dust, ground granite and limestone, kaolin, graphite and charcoal. In terms of technique, most of the paintings in this show ­–

from the densely patterned mythological images of American Mequitta Ahuja, executed in acrylic, coloured pencil, oil,

a women-only exhibition? The Tate has been promoting women’s art, but only through safe solo shows of established artists. Saatchi, meanwhile, has brought together 14 strikingly different young women artists in a group exhibition whose effect, intentional or not, is


blow the idea of ‘women’s art’ out of the water. Yet on the most basic measure of equality – money – art by women still ranks a distant second. In 2014 the holy cow of American modernism, Georgia O’Keeffe, broke auction records for a woman artist with the sale
of Jimson Weed/White Flower No 1 for $44 million at Sotheby’s New York; the following year Picasso’s Women of Algiers sold for almost exactly four times as much google_ad_width = 970; at Christie’s. It puts the 20% gender pay gap in the workplace into proportion.

One glass ceiling leads to another. As

售价Listing Price:CNY 1280.00

long as the art market is dominated by male collectors on whom a sniff of senescent Picasso acts like rhino horn, nothing’s going to change. Saatchi’s gesture is welcome, but any celebration would be premature. Until women’s work


commands equal prices, the champagne can stay on ice.

Laura Gascoigne