“Women simply don’t pass the test” Wait… what?!?


Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1652/3)
Self-portrait as the allegory of Painting (La Pittura)
Oil on canvas
96.5 x 73.7 cm

Georg Baselitz, to many one of the greatest living artists, made his name by being provocative. But in an interview published on Spiegel almost a month ago, he surpassed even his own cantankerous, choleric self by dismissing women painters who ”simply don’t pass the market test, the value test” because ”women don’t paint very well”. With a few bright exceptions to the rule like ”Agnes Martin or, from the past, Paula Modersohn-Becker” whose paintings make him ”very happy” but, still, they are ”no Picasso, no Modigliani and no Gauguin”.

No they are not. How could they be? Perhaps because the are Artemisia Gentileschi, Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Ann Vallayer-Coster or Gwen John?

But on what grounds would an articulate, accomplished artist annihilate the work, the very existence of an entire gender in art? Where does one even begin to argue against a perspective so very wrong in so many ways? And could a verbal or written argument do anything to change a vision as fundamentally distorted as it is dismissive? When did technique, artistic integrity and virtuosity become intrinsic values of a specific gender?

I am at a loss for words… Which is why I set up Basel[d]itz; a voice in protest against the continuous biased approach towards women in art. To let art speak for itself, I’ll be adding works by women artists I find fascinating, pleasing or repelling – all with their own individual charm and character.

Meanwhile, here is the extract from the interview in question:

SPIEGEL: You started painting in East Germany, but you left early and continued to study in the West. Nowadays, the art market largely ignores the artistic legacy of East Germany, including the painters who received all the attention and promotion, the ones you referred to as “assholes” after German reunification. Is it delayed justice?

Baselitz: As always, the market is right.

SPIEGEL: Always? The market only embraces a few women. There are hardly any women among the most expensive artists.

Baselitz: Oh God! Women simply don’t pass the test.

SPIEGEL: What test?

Baselitz: The market test, the value test.

SPIEGEL: What’s that supposed to mean?

Baselitz: Women don’t paint very well. It’s a fact. There are, of course, exceptions. Agnes Martin or, from the past, Paula Modersohn-Becker. I feel happy whenever I see one of her paintings. But she is no Picasso, no Modigliani and no Gauguin.

SPIEGEL: So women supposedly don’t paint very well.

Baselitz: Not supposedly. And that despite the fact that they still constitute the majority of students in the art academies.

Read the full interview here: Georg Baselitz ‘My Paintings are Battles’. In case the article is moved or archived please send me a message and I’ll e-mail it to you.



15 thoughts on ““Women simply don’t pass the test” Wait… what?!?

  1. Is this guy for real???? ‘Women can’t paint well’, how sexist.
    By the way, I love both Artemisia and Berthe Morisot, Have you seen the two movies based on their lives. Both very sad films, worth checking out. I watched the film ‘Artemisia’ almost a decade ago, but watched the French television movie on Berthe Morisot, only last year.

    • And the worst is that he -apparently- voices the opinion of other sexists too who just don’t speak up! Unbelievable? I haven’t watched the films yet; I’ll look out for them, thanks!

  2. what? he doesn’t like carolee schneemann? what a pig! seriously though, it hasn’t exactly been a level playing field for women. the work should be judged on it’s own metrit, not gender, sexual preference, race, or any of the other labels associated with art/life. I know many terrible male painters…oh but, that’s only my opinion.

  3. Let alone women weren’t allowed in Academies and even when were somehow accepted, they worked in different rooms like the second class citizens they were… No, certainly Baselitz is not likeable… I was not a fan before, even less so now but, still, he did inspire me to start my own little virtual collection of art! So I’ll be updating the Baselditz page regularly as a means to remember, learn and – why not? even if just one person browses through – promote art by women. Plus making a point to all those ditzes out there!

  4. WTF?! I mean Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jenny Saville,.. To be honest, this one sounds like misogynist git. As in many fields of the arts, women have traditionally struggled to be accepted because gatekeepers have been traditionally men and it was considered hedonistic and selfish for women to want to leave the home and children to pursue something solely for their own enjoyment. Men have never had to fight against this so it stands to reason there are more male painters. It certainly doesn’t mean they’re better, just more plentiful. However nowadays the art buyer is often female–I doubt he has earned himself any fans with this nonsense talk!

Chatroom | The Floor is Yours

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s