YOU CAN BUY A WHOLE COLLECTION OF WORK BY WOMEN ARTISTS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE PAINTING BY A FAMOUS WHITE GUY
WHEN RACISM & SEXISM ARE NO LONGER FASHIONABLE, WHAT WILL YOUR ART COLLECTION BE WORTH?
The glass ceiling is firmly in place in the art world, especially when the work of women artists comes up at auction. When we did this poster in 1989, we wanted to make art collectors nervous about their choices. We also wanted them to know what a bargain the art of women is! Things are a little bit better now—the work of Tina Modotti and Frida Kahlo have broken sales records—but not much.
Asked to design a billboard for the Public Art Fund in New York, we welcomed the chance to do something that would appeal to a general audience. One Sunday morning we conducted a "weenie count" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, comparing the number of nude males to nude females in the artworks on display. The results were very "revealing."
The PAF said our design wasn't clear enough (????) and rejected it. We then rented advertising space on NYC buses and ran it ourselves, until the bus company canceled our lease, saying that the image, based on Ingres' famous Odalisque, was too suggestive and that the figure appeared to have more than a fan in her hand.
I. Thou shalt not be a Museum Trustee and also the Chief Stockholder of a Major Auction House.
II. A Curator shalt not exhibit an Artist, or the Artists of a Dealer, with whom he/she has had a sexual relationship, unless such liason is explicitly stated on a wall label 8" from the exhibited work.
III. Thou shalt not give more than 3 retrospectives to an Artist whose Dealer is the brother of the Chief Curator.
IV. Thou shalt not limit thy Board of Trustees to Corporate Offices, Wealthy Entrepreneurs and Social Hangers-on. At least .001% must be Artists representing the racial and gender percentages of the U.S. population.
V. Thou shalt not permit Corporations to launder their public images in Museums until they cleaneth up their Toxic Waste Dumps and Oil Slicks.
VI. Thou shalt provide lavish funerals for Women and Artists of Color who thou planeth to exhibit only after their Death.
VII. If thou art an Art Collector sitting on the Acquisitions or Exhibitions Committee, thou shalt useth thy influence to enhance the value of thine own colleciton not more than once a year.
VIII. Thy Corporate Benefactors who earn their income from products for Women and Artists of Color shall earmark their Museum donations for exhibits and acquisitions of art by those Groups.
IX. Thou shalt keep Curatorial Salaries so low that Curators must be Independently Wealthy, or willing to engage in Insider Trading.
X. Thou shalt admit to the Public that words such as genius, masterpiece, priceless, seminal, potent, tough, gritty and powerful are used solely to prop up the Myth and inflate the Market Value of White Male Artists.
The events portrayed in this poster bear direct resemblance to real events at U.S. art museums. It's the only poster we have ever done in Old Testament language. Copies of it have been spotted hanging in museum offices all over the country.
Assigning commemorative months to social issues has become another form of tokenism. This poster is a favorite on university campuses where African Americans and women always get art shows in February and March.
By 1990 "multiculturalism" was a buzzword, accompanied by the perception that things had gotten better for women and artists of color. Artforum asked us to do one of their "Artist's Projects," and in it we announced the conditions for our retirement.