Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.

You may recall that a short while ago I made a post called “Think Outside the Box”; a title in which I amused myself because it’s main focus was on curating art away from the cliché white cube. It included my personal view that, although artwork within galleries can be mesmerising, creating artwork outside of gallery spaces is an excellent opportunity to introduce art to those who wouldn’t normally even consider going into a gallery in the first place.

Pablo Picasso once said: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

Personally, I agree. I believe that this is absolutely true. As a society it seems that we have the creativity and passion knocked out of us, after constantly being told that we aren’t good enough. Despite “good enough” being an entirely subjective term, many take this view to heart and eventually give up. In fact, I’m a prime example of this! I missed out on achieving an art GCSE because my mums boyfriend told me that all the good artists are dead and there’s no point. It was only thanks to a chat with my dad that I am now taking a degree level education in fine art, with a promised tattoo art apprenticeship with one of the best tattoo artists in britain! Many people aren’t as lucky as I have been, and don’t have such support. 

I recently learned that one of my favourite surrealist artists- Salvador Dalí- had illustrated one of my favourite childhood stories, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland back in 1969. Those who know Dalí should also know that he rose to fame with his early piece “The Persistence of Memory” back in 1931 after befriending artists of the likes of Miro, Picasso and Magritte. So after making such a living from sophisticated, adult works, why begin illustrating a children’s book?

To begin, no one piece of art is more professional or important than another. You could be a gallery artists, a tattoo artist, a children’s book illustrator, each different but each as creative and important as each other. Of course, everyone has personal preference, but on an overall scale, all arts validity is equal.

I believe that putting art into a children’s book, such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, introduces children to art at an early age and raises them with the creative love that many children lose as they get older. And it is not only Dalí who has illustrated books, another artist with her own take on Carroll’s Wonderland is Yayoi Kusama. In fact, only last year did she partake in the wonderful illustrations of The Little Mermaid.

Below are a couple of links with a series of artists, followed by the children’s books that they have illustrated, including the likes of Warhol, Hockney, and Manet!

https://www.artsy.net/artsyeditorial3145

https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/articles/11-books-illustrated-by-famous-artists/

It just goes to show that a good artist is versatile, and will paint the whole world in colour no matter what the age of their audience.

Battle of the Sexes

For those who have been living under a rock for the past 30 years, the Guerrilla Girls are a feminist movement among the art society that combat discrimination through the means of art, humour, and activism. According to their research, 83% of the nudes in U.S. galleries are of women, however, only 3% of art is actually by women. This isn’t just a 60-40% difference that can be overlooked by nothing but mere coincidence, this is a 97-3% difference.

These findings made me curious as to whether or not statistics were similar among the curation aspect of art. Much to my surprise, it turned out that- within curatorial studies- there is a 5:1 ratio between genders… In favour of women! According to Johanna Burton (director, graduate program, center for curatorial studies, Bard College), gender ratios within curatorial studies are “famously imbalanced”. I went on to discover that this point has been validated by a number of other curation professionals. Personally, I am a feminist. This means that I believe in equality for both genders, so the 500% female to male domination also sparked a few alarm bells in my mind, and I continued in my research.

Plot twist!

Despite the mass proportion of curation students identifying as female, the statistics do their cliché again and flip themselves around so that- when studies are over and the time comes to finding a secure job- the number of males hired is “exceedingly high” in comparison to women, especially seeing as there were significantly more women partaking in the studies.

“…That said, and assuming—as I do—that men are not inherently better equipped than women, it is of note that female students outnumber male students by at least 500 percent in most instances, yet they often represent 50 percent or less of any given professional context.” Burton then goes on to explain that the cause of the difference between the number of male and female curators is as such: “The persistence of deeply held, if outmoded and even somewhat unconscious, beliefs that link the arts and extended discourses around the arts to those aspects of culture deemed nonessential. While curatorial practice has, in the last two decades, assumed a much more visible role, and with that a kind of tangible intellectual prowess, assumptions around the nature of certain modes of production still hold. The ratio under discussion is hardly unique to curatorial courses, as I begin to discuss above. The liberal arts, for all their visibility, are assumed to labor outside of immediate urgency (that ascribed to the sciences, for instance), and so are still coded as luxurious pursuits. Female students and practitioners (myself included) do not, for the most part, identify with such reductive bourgeois associations. Indeed, what I describe here does not explain the presence of so many female students—on the contrary, it explains the absence of more male students. That men often assume the most powerful institutional roles in cultural institutions simply affirms that within any eco-system (however it signifies more broadly) familiar gendered rules apply.”

So is the art world sexist? Or are the neurological differences between males and females what cause there to be a significantly inproportionate balance between genders in such professions?