Guerrilla Girls (Group of artists)

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The Guerrilla Girls formed in 1985 as an anonymous group determined to fight sexism in the art world. Their initial strategy was to put up protest posters during the night in the Soho neighborhood of Manhattan. What residents saw in the morning were statistics printed in black on white paper, and the numbers spoke for themselves: that only one woman had had a solo exhibition in a New York Museum in the previous year; that fewer than 10% of artists shown in top galleries were women; that art magazines devoted less than 25% of coverage to women artists. Confronting the art world with its patent injustice, the posters caused a sensation.

The Guerrilla Girls developed their expose over the next two decades, systematically attacking the arbiters of taste in the art world, including gallerists, critics, curators, collectors, editors, and even prominent male artists who failed to support their campaign. To the stark presentation of fact they added wit, using, for example, the format of an elementary school report card to grade and comment on the galleries' performance with regard to women artists, or listing the disadvantages of being a woman artist as advantages. It was frequently this mock reversal of values that was at the core of their effective humor, even when they moved into the broader political arena to target the Bush-era censorship campaigns, with messages such as, "Relax, Senator Helms, the art world is your kind of place."

The Guerrilla Girls have given lectures and performances dressed as gorillas to pursue the pun on their name, conceal their identities, and emphasize the primal intelligence and strength of their political position. Instead of using their given names, they took the names of women artists from the past as pseudonyms. They have also curated two major exhibitions. In 1985, their Palladium show exhibited women artists. In 1987, in protest against the Whitney Biennial's selection of artwork, they curated a counter exhibition, Guerrilla Girls Review the Whitney, in which they revealed the corporate ties of the institution. Over the years, they have also produced mass mailings that attacked reviewers or gallerists with more specificity than a poster allowed; books, including Confessions of the Guerrilla Girls (1995) and The Guerrilla Girls' Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art (1998); the journal Hot Flashes (1990); and various toys, cards, banners, and other ephemera, often derived from the poster concepts.

From the guide to the Guerrilla Girls records, 1979-2003, (The Getty Research Institute)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Guerrilla Girls Collection, 1987-1992 The Women's Art Library (MAKE)
creatorOf Guerrilla Girls (Group of artists). Guerrilla Girls records, 1979-2003. Getty Research Institute, Research Library
creatorOf Guerrilla Girls (Group of artists). Oral history interview with Guerrilla Girls Frida Kahlo and Kathe Kollwitz, 2008 Jan. 19-Mar. 9 [sound recording]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Guerrilla Girls (Group of artists). Oral history interview with Guerrilla Girls Zora Neale Hurston and Agnes Martin, 2008 May 17 [sound recording]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Fanny Adams Collection, 1991-1993 The Women's Art Library (MAKE)
creatorOf Guerrilla Girls (Group of artists). Oral history interview with Guerrilla Girls Rosalba Carriera and Guerrilla Girl 1, 2007 Dec. 1. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn A.I.R. Gallery Archives, ca. 1972-2006 Fales Library & Special Collections
creatorOf Guerrilla Girls (Group of artists). Institutional file. Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives
referencedIn Roach, Michael. Poster and Broadside Collection of Tamiment Institute Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, [ca. 1904-1991]. 1935-1975 (bulk). Churchill County Museum
creatorOf Guerrilla Girls (Group of artists). Oral history interview with Guerrilla Girls Elizabeth Vigee LeBrun and Liubov Popova, 2008 Jan. 19 [sound recording]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Guerrilla Girls records, 1979-2003 The Getty Research Institute
creatorOf Guerilla Girls. Guerilla Girls: Art World Personality Files. Whitney Museum of American Art, Library
referencedIn Group Material Archive, Bulk, 1979-1996, 1976-2009 Fales Library & Special Collections
creatorOf Guerrilla Girls (Group of artists). Relax Senator Helms, the art world is your kind of place! Getty Research Library
creatorOf Guerrilla Girls (Group of artists). Oral history interview with Guerrilla Girls Alice Neel and Gertrude Stein, 2007 Dec. 1 [sound recording]. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Women Art Revolution : videotape interviews by Lynn Hershman-Leeson for film, 1990-2008, 1990-2008 Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Guerrilla Girls (Group of artists). Oral history interview with Guerrilla Girls Jane Bowles and Alma Thomas, 2008 May 8. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Hershman-Leeson, Lynn, 1941-. Women art revolution : videotape interviews by Lynn Hershman-Leeson for film, 1990-2008. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Public Art Fund Archive, 1966-2009 Fales Library & Special Collections
creatorOf Guerrilla Girls (Group of artists). Ephemera. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
creatorOf Guerrilla Girls (Group of artists). Oral history interview with Guerrilla Girls Julia de Burgos and Hannah Höch, 2008 May 8. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn A.I.R. Gallery (New York, N.Y.). The A.I.R. Gallery archives, [ca.1972-2006]. Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Public Art Fund. Public Art Fund Archive 1966-2009. New York University, Fales Collection
creatorOf Guerrilla Girls (Group of artists). Artist file : miscellaneous uncataloged material. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
referencedIn Guerrilla Girls : PAD/D pamphlet file : miscellaneous uncataloged material. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith A.I.R. Gallery (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Fanny Adams; 1992-1993; feminist campaign group corporateBody
associatedWith Franklin Furnace Archive, corporateBody
associatedWith Group Material (Firm : New York, N.Y.). corporateBody
associatedWith Guerrilla Girls, conscience of the art world. corporateBody
associatedWith Guerrilla Girls (Group of artists) corporateBody
associatedWith Hershman-Leeson, Lynn, 1941- person
associatedWith Hershman-Leeson, Lynn, 1941- person
associatedWith Museum of Modern Art corporateBody
associatedWith Public Art Fund. corporateBody
associatedWith Richards, Judith Olch, 1947- person
associatedWith Whitney Museum of American Art. corporateBody
associatedWith Women's Art Magazine corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York NY US
Subject
Art museums--Exhibitions--20th century
Art critics--United States--20th century
Feminism and art
Art Critics--20th century
Feminism in art
Women artists--Interviews
Art museums--Exhibitions--United States
Women artists--United States--20th century
Feminsim in art
Politics in art
Women artists
Art dealers--United States--20th century
Sexism
Photographic prints--United States--20th century
Feminism and art--20th century
Feminists
Women artists--20th century
Anti-racism
Sex discrimination against women
Art dealers--20th century
Feminism and art--United States--20th century
Occupation
Function

Corporate Body

Active 1985

Female

Americans

Information

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