Museum Hack’s weekly Badass Bitches tour highlights unsung women artists and muses in some of the country’s biggest art museums.
Finding works of art by women can be a bitch.
The paintings, drawings, sculptures and other pieces from female artists makes up only 3% to 5% of major permanent collections in the U.S. and Europe, according to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, in part because the patriarchy long stymied women’s talent. For example, ladies were banned from studying nude models from the 16th to 19th centuries; an essential practice when learning to draw, sculpt and paint.
But a 2014 Association of Art Museum Directors study also found that men occupy most upper-level positions in museums. And even those women acting as to art museum directors earn substantially less than their male counterparts, earning 75 cents for every dollar earned by male directors.
Which is why Museum Hack launched its $59 Badass Bitches tour of NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which celebrates the women represented in the world-class cultural institution – and educates guests on the ones who aren’t, but should be.
It scored the feminist blessing of entrepreneur and former advertising exec Cindy Gallop, founder of IfWeRanTheWorld.com and MakeLoveNotPorn.com. She raved on YouTube: “Women, this is going to be an absolute God-on revelation to you in terms of female empowerment in the arts, and the extraordinary number of female artists who have been overlooked and missed out on, and still are not represented in the Met fully. And men, you have to come on this tour, because it will be utterly eye-opening to you, as well as hugely enjoyable. It’s fascinating, it’s educational, it’s informative, it’s revelatory, it’s sexy and it’s badass as all get-out.”
Museum Hack runs unconventional tours in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, D.C. that feature provocative art history gossip, the occasional glass of wine, or getting entire groups to pose as the famous works on display (such as George Washington crossing the Delaware).
Badass Bitches was dreamed up by a former guide who frustrated by the disparity she was seeing during her weekly tours.
“I realized most of the artists, famous figures and scandal-makers that I (and most other guides) were telling stories about were men. Where were the stories of awesome, kick-ass, rebellious and DGAF ladies like us in art history?” mastermind Kate Downey said in a statement. “I’ve assembled a tour that not only features the stories of amazing female artists and subjects of the art, but also outlines the insane discrepancy between how art by women and art by men is valued in the museum world today. The tour also creates opportunity for activism, all without hating on dudes, or getting depressed.”
Rebecca “Bex” Odorisio, a fellow Badass Bitches guide, walked Moneyish through 10 female artists, muses and legends highlighted in New York City’s tour of the Met. Or visit MuseumHack.com/ for Badass Bitches tours in other cities.
This first recorded female pharaoh, who ruled for the 21-year interim period between the death of her husband and the coming-of-age of the next king (her stepson), was almost “erased” from history by subsequent Egyptian kings. “She ruled over a time of great cultural expansion and peace,” said Odorisio, such as creating the world’s first public zoo, and opening trade routes that brought wealth and goods to Egypt.
The Baroque Italian painter was raped by one of her paint tutors as a teenager, Odorisio said, but grew up to illustrate women-centered Bibilical stories such “Esther Before Ahasuerus.” It depicts the Jewish queen Esther pleading the before King Ahasuerus to save her people, which is the basis for the celebration of Purim.
“That painting is very beautiful and very touching, and she displays this compassionate moment between man and woman,” said Odorisio, which is remarkable, “after having experienced what she did during her formative years.”
This French lesbian painter and animal lover applied for a special permit with the Parisian police to wear pants in public, arguing that trousers were more practical for working with animals.
It is truly an amazing feeling when you see great women artists like Rosa Bonheur on display. It makes me feel like I can accomplish anything. [ side note: it may look like I’m wearing a skirt in this photo, but I’m actually wearing pants and I think that would make Rosa proud….since she had to get a pants permit! ] #👩🏻🎨 #RosaBonheur #TheHorseFair #19thCenturyArt
She was especially skilled at painting and sculpting animals, and her most famous painting, “The Horse Fair,” hangs in the Met.
Legend has it that this fierce figure protects villages in the Caroline Islands in Micronesia by blessing crops and warding off with the most feminine part of her body. Dilukai figures were carved over houses with their legs spread, presenting their vaginas.
Beware of Lilith. 👿 #jyflynyc #kikismith #sculpture #lilith #lullaby #themet #museumhack #arthistory #artbitch #babfeministtour #badassbitchestour #ladies #artlovers #weekends #manhattan #newyorkers #nycstyle #fromwhereistand #viewfromabove #photoshoot #fashionpost #classic #stylepost #styleinspo #fashioninspo #photooftheday
See the statue of the semi-Biblical first wife of Adam supposedly caused a ruckus in the garden of Eden with her “nasty” behavior, and was replaced by Eve. She became a baby-eating demon, and inspiration for the all-female concert tour and traveling music festival founded by Sarah McLachlan in the late 90s.
Auguste Rodin’s assistant, occasional muse and lover was a master sculptor, herself, and some art historians suspect that many of Rodin’s pieces are actually her uncredited works, which is why the tour discusses her by Rodin’s figures.
“She was skilled at making hands and feet, and Rodin’s sculptures are known for big, exaggerated hands and feet,” said Odorisio. “But she often used Rodin’s name to get her work cast in bronze because she was an unmarried woman, and the French government frowned on that sort of thing. So now her work is completely intertwined with Rodin. And she went unrecognized and uncredited, and ended up dying alone.”
The coca Goddess, her name in Quechua means "mother coca". She is associated with health and joy. pic.twitter.com/QNB0I0Ckhn
— Divine Forum (@divine_forum) November 7, 2017
COCO MAMA/KUKA MAMA
Incan folklore tells that this goddess of love, joy and sexual freedom was split in half by her many lovers. The coca tree – source of cocaine – grew from her body, giving her the name “Mother Coco.”
Paul Revere who? This 14-year-old unsung Revolutionary War hero took her own midnight ride 40 miles across Putnam County, N.Y. and Danbury, Connecticut – more than twice the distance of Revere’s legendary 12.5-mile trek – to warn the American Patriots that the British were coming. Late American sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington memorialized Ludington in a statue displayed in Danbury, but her “Reaching Jaguar” statue is on display at the Met.
This was once the seat of the most powerful oracle in the ancient world. Thousands would pilgrimage here to ask for the blessing of the Oracle of Delphi. From the lowest class to kings, no one was above this woman's guidance. Turns out it was a massive way to control warring city states. #themoreyouknow🌈
THE ORACLE OF DELPHI
This most revered religious position in Ancient Greek society was always held by a young woman with unusual powers of “insight.” Models of the two great sanctuaries of ancient Greece, Delphi and Olympia, are on exhibition in the northeast corner of the Hall of Architectural Casts at the Met.
See Kim Kardashian’s 6,000-year-old predecessor. This marble statuette of a curvy woman with an Internet-breaking behind was considered by people of 4500–4000 B.C.-era Greece to be a luck and health-bringing goddess.
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