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Guerrilla Girls

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Interview with the Guerrilla Girls prior to Whitney Action, 2006 May 13
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Guerrilla Girls Whitney Action footage
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Interview with the Guerrilla Girls, 2006 May 13
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Interview with Guerrilla Girl Kathe Kollwitz, 2006 July 22
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Interview with Guerrilla Girl Violette Leduc, 2008 February 15

Active in New York and elsewhere from 1985 to the present, the Guerrilla Girls are an anonymous group of artists, critics, and other art world participants who draw attention to disparities in treatment and pay between male and female artists and between white artists and their non-white peers. Members maintain their anonymity—important for keeping their messages broad and their professional identities safe—by the trademark donning of gorilla masks and by the adoption of female artist pseudonyms.

The distribution of posters across SoHo and the East Village was the Guerrilla Girls’ first strategic action, soon followed by protests, speaking engagements, and surprise appearances. One poster (1988), for example, declared that “the advantages of being a woman artist” included “working without the pressure of success” and “not having to undergo the embarrassment of being called a genius.” Another (1990) presented a pop quiz: “Q: If February is Black History Month and March is Women’s History Month, what happens the rest of the year? A: Discrimination.” Combining simple graphics, clear yet clever statements, and illustrative statistics, the posters were created in order to target the art system at its epicenter, New York City. The Guerrilla Girls have more recently expanded their focus to California, Spain, Mexico, China, and elsewhere.

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Guerrilla Girls, The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist poster (1988). Courtesy of Kathe Kollwitz for the Guerrilla Girls.

Further Reading

Freeland, Cynthia. "Gender, Genius, and Guerrilla Girls." In But is it Art? an Introduction to Art Theory, 122-147. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Guerrilla Girls. The Guerrilla Girls' Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art. New York: Penguin Books, 1998.

———. Confessions of the Guerrilla Girls by the Guerrilla Girls Themselves (Whoever They Really Are). New York: Harper Perennial, 1995.

Guerrillas in our Midst. Directed by Amy Harrison, Margaret Herbig, Ron Hunnings and Women Make Movies. New York, NY: Distributed by Women Make Movies, 200–; 1992.