are expert complainers. They’ve been doing it very effectively since 1985, when they first organized and began distributing posters and stickers around New York City. A group of feminist art activists, the Guerrilla Girls had become increasingly aware that the art they were seeing in galleries and museums in New York City wasn’t necessarily the best of what was around. And after an ineffectual 1984 demonstration outside the Museum of Modern Art
, protesting a survey exhibition that included only 13 women artists out of more than 150, they decided to try a different approach.
Their posters name names and use information, statistics, and humor to expose gender bias, racism, and corruption within and outside of the art world. In bold black type, one of their first posters, from 1985, clearly lists the names of galleries that were showing no more than 10 percent women artists, or none at all. A 1989 billboard asked: “Do Women Have to Be Naked to Get into the Met Museum
? Less than 5 percent of the artists in the Modern Art sections are women, but 85 percent of the nudes are female.” They updated the figures in 2005 and 2012, noting little to no improvement. Using the language of advertising, the Guerrilla Girls seek not only to point fingers but to change minds through the intrepid deployment of facts and sometimes outrageous visuals. Calling themselves “the Conscience of the Art World,” the group has produced hundreds of posters, billboards, books, stickers, animations, and actions—about not just art, but also politics, film, war, and more.