The Guerrilla Girls Go Down In History

The Guerrilla Girls, a group of anonymous activists whose mission is to fight discrimination against female and minority artists in the art world, have sold a bunch of documents, letters, and artwork to the Getty Research Institute for an undisclosed sum. This is kind of ironic because the Guerrilla Girls have protested against the art establishment (which includes the Getty family) since 1985.

The Guerrilla Girls started protesting the lack of women in museums and cultural institutions, covering New York with posters saying things like, “Does a woman have to get naked to get into the Met?” To get noticed, the women began wearing gorilla masks, and their posters became collectors’ items over time, with people spending money to purchase them (which then allowed the Guerrilla Girls to buy ad space on billboards to promote their causes even more).

Many in the art world have criticized the group for promoting a quota system for museums and galleries in which women would represent a certain percentage of the works on display. Art dealer Mary Boone once described their campaigns as “an excuse for the failure of talent.” Ouch. However, the fact that they’re being taught in college art history and sociology courses — and that the Getty Research Institute has bought their archive — says something about their influence. [The Independent, LA Times]