Female artists are finally in our galleries – let's keep them there

Issue no4
Aug - Sept 2020

Galleries are finally choosing to exhibit works by women – but will they stay on the walls once the trend for representation has passed? The Guardian's Naomi Polonsky on the gender imbalance in the UK art exhibitions.

n the face of it, 2018 was a good year for female artists. Museumsand galleries across the UK staged exhibitions on historic and contemporary female artists, with events that celebrated 100 years since British women won the right to vote. But now that the bunting has been taken down and the suffragette sashes stowed away, will women still get wall space in our public museums? Are they here to stay or will they have to make way for the next fad?

It’s certainly true that over the past few years, public museums have begun redressing the gender imbalance in their collections. When Tate Modern opened its major extension in 2016, director Frances Morris made a point of dedicating half of the new gallery space to women artists, increasing the percentage on display across the museum from 17% to 36%. And in 2020, the National Gallery will stage its first solo exhibition on a historic female artist – the 17th-century Italian baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi.

But there is still a long way to go...

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