Nasty Women at the Met Museum

Wounded Amazon, 1st–2nd century A.D. Metropolitan Museum, NY

“Do women have to be naked to get into the Met Museum?” That’s the pointed question that the feminist art collective Guerilla Girls printed on a poster in 1989 to expose the dearth of female artists—compared to the bounty of naked female subjects—on the walls of New York’s Metropolitan Museum.

Edith Minturn Stokes by John Singer Sargent
Metropolitan Museum, NY

“Less than 5% of the artists in the Modern Art Section are women, but 85% of the nudes are female,” read the poster’s potent subhead.

So begins Alexxa Gotthardt’s review of the “Nasty Women” tour of the Met by Andrew Lear. To counter this unfortunate truth, Art historian Lear has a organized a tour of the museum that focuses on influential, if largely unknown, women.

“There are so many feisty, tough women artists and subjects at the Metropolitan,” says Lear as a group gathers around him. “So when a certain unappealing man used the phrase ‘nasty woman’ on television last fall, I thought ‘God damnit, I’m going to organize a tour showing that these women exist in art—and how powerful they were in life.”

“Nasty Women” is not Lear’s first thematic tour of the Met. “Gay Secrets of the Metropolitan” explored homosexuality in the Met’s collection. “Shady Ladies” was a romp past sculptures and paintings of courtesans and ladies of the night. “Nasty Women” has been sold out in advance since it opened in March. Read more about it here.

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