Why is the work of female artists always less valued than the work of male artists?


The graph above indicates that, although small, there are some differences in the media used by male and female artists, with the notable observation that men remain the dominant producers of conventional media, such as painting. and sculpture.

Taking this investigation further, basic log ratio analyzes indicate that there are also differences in the more than 1,000 characteristics applied to works of art by The Art Genome Project. That is, in some ways, women and men produce different characteristics of art according to this taxonomy. While the vast majority of characteristics show no substantial difference by gender, there are some that do. Analyzes of ongoing research further suggest that with these features of the Art Genome project, a machine learning algorithm can classify art by artist’s gender with a relatively high degree of accuracy. How this finding ties in with the claim that women and men make art with different characteristics is a central focus of the research.

If the preliminary conclusion that men and women, in some respects, produce art with different characteristics is confirmed by further scientific examination, the next step is to investigate whether the characteristics appearing most often in the women’s work are also associated with lower prices or other outcomes. of artistic value. If this is the case, then the undervaluation of “feminine” characteristics may contribute to our broader understanding of gender inequality in the art world. The evidence that this hypothesis could be confirmed is provided by a weak but negative correlation between the chances of a feature of the Art Genome project appearing in the works of art of women, as opposed to men, and the selling price of the works of art. art displaying this characteristic.

Sociologist Pierre Bourdieu once joked that “sociology and art don’t mix.” His reasoning was based on the tension between the desire of the art world to focus on individual creative genius and the insistent aim of sociology to explain phenomena in terms of social forces. Who and what defines art and quality, what institutions are important and how to access them, who knows who, whether the benefit is accrued from a past of prejudice, and where the conscious prejudices and Unconscious of culture interrupt economic valuation – these are the questions that sociologists explain to greatness. It is not a denial of quality, talent, innovation or genius, but a way of contextualizing them.

As a brief analysis shows here, efforts to analyze this context in the realm of the contemporary art world can be aided by online art platforms. Data from these platforms helps answer questions not only on gender, but also on race and ethnicity, age, career stage, and socio-economic status. And not just on inequalities, but also on networks and curation, the changing influence of roles and institutions, the position of art in social life, the tastes and demographics of collectors, and the emerging influence. algorithmic recommendation systems and social media. In other words, the marriage of these platforms with academic research will teach us more than ever about the roles, models and processes that together (re) produce the art world as we know it.

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