October 31st, 2012
12:29 PM ET

From muse to moneymaker: A brighter picture for women in art

By Rose Hoare, CNN

(CNN) - From Warhol's silkscreens of Marilyn Monroe to Picasso's nudes, it has generally been easier for women to be the subject of paintings than to have their own work exhibited.

In 1989, when New York feminist collective Guerrilla Girls began counting how many works in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art were by women, less than 5% of the artists in its Modern section were female.

But the art world looks set to change its stubbly face, and shows increasing signs of recognition for the value and stature of leading female artists.

Half of the nominees for Britain's Turner Prize are women this year, as are three of the four photographers shortlisted for Canada's $50,000 Grange Prize, and at this month's Frieze Art Fair, two of the five artists commissioned to make site-specific works were women.

Online sales bring the decision making to the public ... away from the hands of the male-dominated, traditional art world
Cynthia Rowley, Exhibition A co-founder

The chief curators of MoMA, the Whitney, the Met, the Guggenheim and the Centre Pompidou are all female, as are the directors of Tate Britain and the Uffizi Gallery. The world's biggest buyer of contemporary art, according to Art Newspaperis the Qatari royal family, whose purchases are directed by Sheikha Mayassa Al Thani.

"It is better than it has ever been for women at the emerging level," says one of the founders of Guerrilla Girls, Frida Kahlo. But, she warns, "when one travels up the art world ladder of success, there is a crushing glass ceiling. Women only get so far, especially at the level of economics."

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