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Do Women Have To Be Naked to Get Into the Met. Museum?




The Guerrilla Girls were a group of female artists who were known for wearing gorilla masks to hide their identity and openly stating their opinions. In their book, The Guerrilla Girls’ Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art, they write, “We are a group of women artists and art professionals who fight discrimination. We’re the conscience of the art world, counterparts to the mostly male traditions of anonymous do-gooders like Robin Hood, Batman, and the Lone Ranger. We have produced over 80 posters, printed projects, and actions that expose sexism and racism in the art world and culture at large… We use humor to prove that feminists can be funny… We could be anyone; we are everywhere.” They were first provoked after a survey of the art at the Museum of Modern Art showed that out of 169 artists, only 13 were female. The group made posters and put them up in public areas, including on the streets of Soho and East Village. 

The Guerrilla Girls’ most well-known poster was titled Do Women Have to Be Naked to Get Into the Met. Museum? (1989) Before making this piece, they surveyed the amount of female artists and female nudes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They learned that 5% of the artists at the Met. were women, but 85% of the nudes were women. The poster depicts a woman, seen in Odalisque and Slave, a painting made by Jean-Auguste-Dominique. This woman now has a gorilla mask, hiding her face. 

At first, the Guerrilla Girls were seen as only an activist group that brought up a lot of controversy. However, now, the museums and art world that they were protesting have grown to love their work. In the beginning, they tried multiple times to display their work on billboards and buses but were denied because it seemed too controversial. The Guerrilla Girls’ work was meant to be controversial because it tackled subjects that were not talked about often. They covered sexism, racism, and corruption in politics.

The Guerrilla Girls’ art may not have been traditional painting or sculpture, but it was still art in its own way. Their posters were modern, influential, and unlike anything anyone had seen before.


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