"Champagne Life"

A look at the historic all-female art show opening in London this week

The new year is off to a promising start for women’s representation in the art world. This month, a new exhibition in London will showcase the work of not one, but 14 visionary women. London’s prestigious Saatchi Gallery is known for spotlighting previously little-known artists who have gone on to become eminent art figures, among them Cindy Sherman and Cecily Brown. For its upcoming exhibition, Champagne Life, the lineup is as varied and diverse as it is promising. Works will include the detailed portraits of Korean-born painter Seung Ah Paik and the installations of Saudi Arabian sculptor Maha Malluh, among others.

Julia Wachtel, "Champagne Life." (Courtesy Saatchi Gallery, London)

Julia Wachtel, “Champagne Life.” (Courtesy Saatchi Gallery, London)

American artist Julia Watchtel created the piece Champagne Life, from which the exhibition draws its name. “Male artists are taken more seriously. While one might say it’s problematic to have a show of just women artists, because we don’t have a show advertised as exclusively male, the statistics speak for themselves,” Wachtel told The Guardian. Indeed, the statistics on women’s representation in the arts paint a discouraging picture. According to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, women make up 51 percent of artists working today, but only 28 percent of museum solo exhibitions in the 2000’s were dedicated to women artists.

The gallery’s first-ever all-female exhibition is one on a growing list making an effort to showcase and recognize women artists. Also this month, a show at the Art Institute of Chicago will bring together the work of Cindy Sherman, Zoe Leonard, and Lorna Simpson. While there is undoubtedly a need for greater representation of women in museums and galleries, some have argued that “all-female” themed shows are more patronizing than productive. “Creating pink ghettos within the art world — rather than simply making a conscious effort to include a diverse group of artists in all exhibitions—simply furthers the nasty perception problem that work created by a woman is somehow inherently different from that created by a man,” Cait Munro argued on Artnet this week.

Nonetheless, though no theme links the fourteen artists featured in Champagne Life other than their shared gender, Saatchi Gallery’s message is clear: in the world of high art, women artists have earned, and deserve their space in the spotlight.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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