This London Gallery is Dedicating an Entire Year to Female Artists

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8. Penny Slinger_Penny as Red Dakini_1977_Mayotte
Penny Slinger, Penny as Red Dakini. Photo by Mayotte Magnus, 1977© The Artist; Courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery, London

100% Women at Richard Saltoun Gallery will run from March of this year, and spotlight works by both established and emerging female artists

The fact that women artists are underrepresented in the art world is no new phenomenon. The Guerilla Girls, for example, have been alerting viewers and consumers to statistics like “less than 5% of artists in the Modern Art section [of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York] are women, but 76% of the nudes are female” since the 1980s, and we continue to read news stories reporting, for example, that of the year’s 20 most popular exhibitions worldwide, only one was headlined by a woman (this was the case in 2017; the artist was Yayoi Kusama). Such trends extend beyond art, of course – last year Greta Gerwig became only the fifth woman ever to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director (of those five only one woman, Kathryn Bigelow, has won the award), and no women have been nominated in the category this year.

Addressing inequalities like these, Mayfair gallery Richard Saltoun has announced a year-long programme of exhibitions by female artists, beginning in March. The gallery has placed focus on feminist art since its inception in 2012, and has made a point of representing and exhibiting equal numbers of male and female artists (putting it in the mere five per cent of London galleries with such a parity), but 100% Women is the first programme of its kind in the space.  

The aim here is to champion contemporary female artists, and to usher in a new wave of equality in an art world largely dominated by wealthy white men. Both artists represented by Richard Saltoun and those without representation altogether will feature in the 12-month programme, which will encompass exhibitions, events, lectures, films and art fair presentations, with the inaugural exhibit showcasing British performance artist Rose English. Exhibitions by artists like Renate BertlmannPenny Slinger and Lili Dujourie will follow, and a final group show centring on motherhood will complete the year in the early months of 2020.

“Our aim is to ensure the female artists who have made a great impact on the development of contemporary art are duly noted in art history,” says the gallery’s founder Richard Saltoun. “We want to take responsibility for this and set an example, but of course still have room to grow.” With the programming in the gallery supplemented by the introduction of digital exhibitions, talks from women working in the art industry and film series, 100% Women aims to communicate this to a wide audience. Saltoun continues: “Following 100% Women, our programme will extend beyond gender equality, seeking to shine light on under-represented figures despite their race, nationality, religion or geographical location – we will continue developing our programme and taking on new artists with this in mind.”

100% Women opens at Richard Saltoun Gallery, London, with an exhibition on Rose English from March 1, 2019.