Thanks for your comment Ryochus, and I actually wish it was that simple! Art is firstly a question of personal taste, nobody likes it all. My question is, who are they?
If, as the Tate claims, ignoring art that hasn’t been created by men goes right back to the art schools, these have had since the feminist outcry in the ’70s to get their fingers out. There have always been a lot of women students in art schools, and not just studying fashion and design. I don’t know how many women teach fine art in art schools and departments today, but in the ’60s and ’70s it was probably zero.
Also, avant-garde women artists have been around for ever but the way the tabloid press treats contemporary women artists, you’d think there were only two around. (That Tracey Emin, she gets drunk you know, and swears and sleeps around, oh yes and she puts her dirty knickers in an art gallery – ha ha ha! And there’s that Rachel Whiteread, who put this ugly great concrete thing based on a crappy old house in a nice park opposite somebody’s home and she didn’t have planning permission! Luckily the council knocked it down or she might have put one outside your house next!)
The obvious “They” are the Turner Prize judges, and here’s where it gets a bit confusing. Many of the judging panels since 1990 have included a large proportion of women, who I certain would not want to be described as sexist, but who may have strived a little too hard to appear unbiased on gender grounds. There is also Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, who from 1988 to 2007 was the chairman of the judging panel, how much responsibility does he hold?
Recently the application form for consideration for the Turner Prize has become more widely available, which may bring an increase in women being nominated – for 2008 three women have been shortlisted, and one man. The judges include two women and Serota has been replaced by Stephen Deuchar. I still wonder how the number of application forms the Tate receives for the prize is whittled down to the four nominees, and who does the whittling?