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“Women don’t paint very well. It’s a fact,” says German artist Georg Baselitz

February 12, 2013
Georg Baselitz

Georg Baselitz

The Independent reports 75-year-old German artist Georg Baselitz has set off a fire storm with remarks in the German newspaper Der Spiegel about the artistic abilities of nearly all women artists:

Baselitz has dismissed centuries of female artists at a stroke – from Artemisia Gentileschi and Frida Kahlo to Bridget Riley and Paula Rego – in his claim that women lack the basic character to become great painters.

[He went on to say] they “simply don’t pass the market test, the value test”, adding: “As always, the market is right.”

This sentiment seems appropriate for an outlet like Dinosaur News or The Antediluvian Daily. The Independent continued:

Sarah Thornton, who wrote Seven Days in the Art World, said: “I disagree with him; the market gets it wrong all the time. To see the market as a mark of quality is going down a delusional path. I’m shocked Baselitz does. His work doesn’t go for so much.”

Baselitz is not alone in expressing such views about female artists. In 2008, Brian Sewell went further saying there has “never been a first-rank woman artist”. He referred to Bridget Riley and Louise Bourgeois as of the “second and third rank”.

Before the opening of Jenny Saville’s breakout show at the Saatchi Gallery, critic David Sylvester said he “always thought women couldn’t be painters” because “that’s just the way it’s always been”. In 1937, artist Hans Hofmann said Lee Krasner’s work was “so good, you would not know it was painted by a woman”.

Ivan Lindsay, an art dealer and writer, said: “This is a hugely contentious issue. Some people think women just generally aren’t as good, others believe they have been held back throughout history.”

He continued: “It is a fairly outrageous and provocative thing for Baselitz to say and we inevitably react against a comment like that. But he has got to an age where he doesn’t care. Others would probably agree but wouldn’t like to stick their head above the parapet.”

“Others would probably agree …”? Calling all dinosaurs …

 

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