Jerry Saltz: My Final Word on MoMA’s Woman Problem

“Nine years ago this week, MoMA opened its brand-new shiny $750 million building. Since this Garden of Modernism reopened, I’ve been gibbering about the dearth of art by women in the museum’s all-important permanent collection of painting and sculpture, installed on the fourth and fifth floors. MoMA is modernism’s mothership, so the way the story of modernism is told here is crucial. And the numbers are horrendous.

 

At the 2004 grand-opening show, there were 415 works on view on the museum’s fourth and fifth floors. Of these, fewer than 20 were by women. Less than 5 percent. In 2006, 19 were by women. A year later, the number was 14.

 

Which brings us to the present. I guess we can say that things are better: Today, by my count, there are 367 works of art on view on these two floors, and 29 of them are by women. That’s just short of 8 percent. Slightly less terrible. Still unforgivable.”

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