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Micol Hebron examines gender equality in the art world


Catherine G. Wagley writes about artist Micol Hebron and her project Gallery Tally for ArtNews. Gallery Tally painstakingly tabulates figures on gender representation in art galleries and visualizes these calculations in often humorous posters, such as the genitalia graveyard above. Hebron is something of an unsung hero in the art world, and as such it’s great to see this recognition in ArtNews. Read the profile in partial below, or in full here.

Last month, the artist Micol Hebron played an April Fools’ joke on her Facebook followers. She posted that Larry Gagosian, bluest of the blue-chip dealers, had emailed her to admit he had a “woman problem,” acknowledging that 86 percent of his roster is male. “He wants to know what to do about it (uh, it’s no mystery),” wrote Hebron, before suggesting her followers flood the gallerist’s inbox with pointers. Those who saw the post responded at first with happy surprise—“Holy shit!” “You’re on a roll!” “Two snaps up for Larry Go-Go”—until Getty curator Glenn Phillips pointed out the day’s date (April 1). Still, Gagosian’s New York offices received a stream of “woman problem” emails that week.

This prank was only one recent step in a long-running effort by Hebron to draw attention to the underrepresentation of women artists. In the tradition of the Guerrilla Girls, she has been counting and surveying, visibly and vocally, women’s presence—or lack of presence—in galleries for the past few years. In 2013 she began her (en)Gendered (in)Equity: Gallery Tally Project, putting out a call for contributions via social media. Artists would make posters representing the gender ratio on a certain gallery’s roster, focusing first on galleries with L.A. homes: a cemetery 83 percent full of penis-shaped headstones for Matthew Marks; a sketch of Miley Cyrus bent over in front of Robin Thicke for Blum & Poe (their roster is 86 percent male); a sky-high pile of too many unruly chairs next to a small, neat set of folding chairs for Kordansky (77 percent male). Hebron archives the posters on Tumblr.

By March 2014, Hebron had expanded the purview to New York galleries and exhibited a collection of over 300 posters at ForYourArt, the Los Angeles nonprofit run by Bettina Korek. Over 2,000 artists had contributed by the time Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions hosted a larger follow-up exhibition of about 400 posters this spring. A portion of the project will appear in a show at Kaufmann Repetto in Milan in early June, and it will be installed again en masse at Ohio State’s Hopkins Hall Gallery in Columbus this fall. Gallery Tally’s traction coincides with the growing conversation about gender bias in art and other arts-related industries. The hope is that conversation can lead to confrontation of the entrenched biases that keep these numbers skewed.

*Image: Kate Hoffman’s 2014 poster of Matthew Marks’s roster for Gallery Tally. COURTESY THE ARTIST AND GALLERY TALLY PROJECT