ELF Arts: Freize 2012 Project – results released!

All eyes are on London this weekend, as Frieze Art Fair 2012 showcases the best the art world has to offer to members of the public and art collectors alike. As part of our campaign, we have taken this opportunity to audit the galleries exhibiting at this year’s Frieze as part of their wider investigation into gender inequality in the art world, ahead of publishing our annual survey in April 2013.

The ELF audit team have analysed the list of artists represented by each of the international galleries exhibiting in the commercial section of this year’s Frieze and have collated the following results from the data gathered[i]:

27.5% of the artists represented at Frieze Art Fair 2012 are women

(excluding collaborations and taken from a cumulative total of the amount of women represented by each gallery)

1.5% of the galleries represent less than one third male artists, 67% of the galleries represent less than one third female artists

3.7% of the galleries at Frieze 2012 represent the same number of male and female artists

8.9 % of the galleries represent an equal number of male and female artists or more female artists than male

6% of the galleries represent only one or no female artists

As well as auditing the galleries exhibiting at the art fair, ELF took a look at the commercial galleries across London and discovered that 23.3% of solo exhibitions hosted by these galleries during Frieze 2012 are by female artists. In 2008, Laura McLean-Ferris, Art Review’s current editor-at-large, conducted her own survey of the solo shows being presented by London’s commercial galleries during the art fair and discovered that 11.6% of these shows were by women. Whilst these comparative statistics imply that the situation for women practicing as artists is improving, the figures from 2012 remain hugely disproportionate.

In October 2011 ELF hosted a panel discussion in order to identify problem areas for women in the arts and to think about how to tackle them in a positive fashion. The event, which brought together leading figures in the arts, revealed that often people think that equality has already been achieved in the arts due to the fact that things have indeed improved and that inspirational figures such as Tracey Emin, who have defied the statistics, exist in the public arena – but the truth is that women are still severely under-represented in the art world. In order to raise awareness of the inequality that persists, ELF launched the Great East London Art Audit. The campaign celebrates and takes inspiration from the women who have achieved success, as well as the galleries and museums that support them; the audit is complimented by a varied programme of events including gallery tours, artist-led workshops, curator talks and group discussion.


[i]  These results reflect a survey of 3441 artists across 135 galleries

Image courtesy of Bárbara Gutiérrez
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