The Five Trailblazing Galleries that Only Show Women Artists

In 2018, just one third of global exhibitions were by women artists. These galleries defy the trend

A spate of studies published in recent years have confirmed what we already know: women artists are underrepresented in galleries. In the US, men make up 87 percent of artists in permanent collections, while in London’s major art institutions, just 22 percent of solo shows in 2017 were by women. Worldwide, the figures are equally disheartening: in 2018, of the 820,000 global exhibitions, just a third were by female artists.

There was some positive news last week, however, with the announcement that a gallery showing only works by women artists will open in Melbourne later this week. To celebrate, we’ve put together a list of five galleries bucking the trend and doing likewise.

Deborah Kelly, Augur, 2018, collage, 29 x 41 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Finkelstein Gallery, Melbourne

Deborah Kelly, Augur, 2018, collage, 29 x 41 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Finkelstein Gallery, Melbourne

Finkelstein Gallery
Melbourne, Australia

Opening on 29 August, Finkelstein Gallery is Australia’s only commercial gallery to show works exclusively by women. Founded by Lisa Fehily, an art consultant who was inspired by viral campaigns concerning the underrepresentation of women’s art in commercial galleries, Finkelstein opens with a group show of ten female artists – eight of whom are Australian.

National Museum of Women in the Arts, installation view, 2019. Courtesy: National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C.

National Museum of Women in the Arts, installation view, 2019. Courtesy: National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C.

National Museum of Women in the Arts
Washington D.C., USA

Tender etchings by Mary Cassatt and a brimming floral still life by 17th-century painter Clara Peeters star in Washington D.C.’s permanent collection of more than 5,000 artworks by women, which also features contemporary artists such as Sonya Clark and Magdalena Abakanowicz. A full exhibition schedule of ten shows per year highlights both emerging and established names.

New Hall Art Collection. Courtesy: New Hall Art Collection

New Hall Art Collection. Courtesy: New Hall Art Collection

New Hall Art Collection
Cambridge, UK

More than 500 works of modern and contemporary art by prominent women artists are held in this Cambridge college collection. Housed in a modernist wing of Murray Edwards College, paintings by Paula Rego and Lubaina Himid hang alongside prints by Judy Chicago and a photograph by Cornelia Parker.

Frauenmuseum, Bonn. Courtesy: Frauenmuseum

Frauenmuseum, Bonn. Courtesy: Frauenmuseum

Frauenmuseum
Bonn, Germany

Since it was founded in 1981, Bonn’s Frauenmuseum has hosted more than 500 exhibitions. All shows are considered through an art-historical lens, with recent exhibitions exploring female friendship in the 18th century and women’s suffrage. The permanent collection boasts work by Maria Lassnig and Yoko Ono while a specialist library holds an impressive array of books on women artists.

Glasgow Women’s Library, 2015. Courtesy: Glasgow Women’s Library and Collective Architecture

Glasgow Women’s Library, 2015. Courtesy: Glasgow Women’s Library and Collective Architecture

Glasgow Women’s Library
Glasgow, UK

Radical suffragette ephemera and rare LGBTQ+ journals are included in the Glasgow Women’s Library archive collection. As well as being the UK’s only accredited museum to exclusively archive women’s lives, the library also hosts a programme of public events and supports women across Scotland to tackle a range of issues around violence, health and sexuality.

Main image: Guerrilla Girls, Do women Have to Be Naked update, 2005. Courtesy: National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, in honor of Wilhelmina Cole Holladay; © Guerrilla Girls

Figgy Guyver is editorial assistant of frieze, based in London, UK. She is co-founder and editor of CUMULUS journal. Follow her on Twitter: @FiggyGuyver.

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