Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?  

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""Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?" (1989) was an awareness campaign by the American feminist group the Guerrilla Girls; who, after counting all male artists, female artists, male nudes and female nudes at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, condemned the limited number of female artists found in that institute."--Sholem Stein

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum? (1989) is a poster by the Guerrilla Girls, an indictment of the lack of female artists found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Against a yellow background, the reclining nude of Ingres' Odalisque is shown with the head of the odalisque replaced by a gorilla head. To the right of the head is the sentence:

Do women have to be naked to
get into the Met. Museum?

Below that slogan is the text, in smaller type:

Less than 5% of the artists in the Modern
Art Sections are women, but 85%
of the nudes are female.

It is their most famous poster and the slogan was plastered across New York City buses in 1989.

Background

The Guerrilla Girls conducted a "weenie count" [ penis count at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, counting naked males and naked females in the artworks as well as numbers of female artists in the collection.

They found that less than 5% of the artists in the Met's modern art sections were women, but 85% of the nudes were female.

They then made a poster to address the issue. Their design was rejected by The Public Art Fund as a billboard so the Guerrilla girls ran it as an ad in the public buses in New York City.

The poster asked, sarcastically, "Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?".

Next to the text is an image of Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres's painting of the Grande Odalisque, one of the most famous female nudes in Western art history, with a gorilla head placed over the original face.

Legacy

This poster has been reproduced in many, many textbooks on all subjects from geography to art history to women’s studies.

The Guerrilla Girls went back in 2005 to do a recount and found that there are now fewer women artists shown at the Met, but more naked males in the artworks.


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