The changing status of painters and sculptors

Question from p29 of Course Guide

“How would you describe the status of artists today? Do we still think in terms of big ‘stars’? Are they still predominantly male? Is there still a hierarchy that privileges painting and sculpture over art forms like textiles? What about photography? Make brief notes in your learning log. Again, you’ll develop your ideas about all these questions as you progress through the course.”

I would say that there are certainly many famous artists who are treated like big stars today. A lucky few living artists have their work sold for millions (including some women artists).

I would guess they are predominantly male but there are a lot of famous women artists that I can think of. I did a quick net search and of the Mall Galleries Top Ten Painters of 2015 only 3 are women. One famous women artist that pops into my mind is Tracey Emin, she seems to think that sexism in the art world is ‘unbelievable’, and that women artists are paid less than men.

I think the art scene has changed and although painting and sculpture are still seen as higher art forms than crafts such as textiles and ceramics, these days concept is king, so in some respects it doesn’t matter what some artists use as their medium because it’s all about the concept behind the art. For example Tracey Emin’s ‘Unmade Bed’ and the glass of water exhibited at the Tate on a bathroom shelf as an oak tree.

Photography is creeping in slowly, but it doesn’t fetch the same hefty sums at auction as other art works. No photograph has ever sold for more than a Picasso for example.

References (retrospective list):

Mall Galleries. (2015) Top Ten Portrait Painters 2015 At:
(Accessed on 23 December 15)

Walker, T. (2014) ‘Tracey Emin: Why are women artists paid less than men?’ In: The Telegraph [online] At:
(Accessed on 23 December 15)

Tate. (2002) Michael Craig-Martin – An Oak Tree, 1973 At:
(Accessed on 23 December 15)


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