Why not paint under a false name?

The gender disparity in art is terrible. So why don’t I paint under a nom de pinceau?

Autumn Leaves, Beauchamp Point, is one of the non-nude paintings at the Rye Arts Center’s Censored and Poetic this month.

Last month, when I wrote about the gender disparity in art, a reader asked me why I didn’t believe gender-neutral nom de pinceaus were the answer. I promised  I’d answer the question in my following post, but then Russia invaded Ukraine and it seemed like wars and rumors of war were more pressing.

Last night was the opening of Censored and Poetic at Rye Arts Center, which brought the question back to mind.

Kicki Storm, me, and Anne de Villeméjane at the opening.

The gender disparity is in fact greater than the race disparity in US galleries. According to a 2019 study, an estimated 85% of artists represented on US gallery walls were white, compared to 76.3% in the general population. That is terrible, but a study the prior year found that in 820,000 exhibitions across the public and commercial sectors in 2018, only one third of the works were by female artists. That’s despite the fact that 51% of the US population is female.*

In general, a name cannot tell you whether a painter is white or black. I had a brief chat about this last night with Matthew Menzies, my former painting student. Matt and I both check a lot of the same sociological boxes. We both have Scottish surnames. However, Matt’s not white, although you’d never know that until you met him. On the other hand, my given name tells you immediately that I’m female. I can be rejected in the sorting process.

Last night, Kicki Storm referred to a 1989 art project by the Guerrilla Girls called Do Women Have to be Naked to Get Into the Met Museum? which found that less than 5% of the artists in the Modern art section of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York were women but 85% of the nudes were female.

I’d like to say it’s better now, but a short comparison of the careers of Lois Doddand Alex Katz reveals otherwise. They have oddly parallel careers. Both studied at Cooper Union. Dodd went on to be one of the founders of the Tanager Gallery. She taught at Brooklyn College and Skowhegan.

The Met owns 19 Alex Katz paintings and three of Lois Dodd’s, none of which are on view. MoMA owns one Lois Dodd painting, acquired in 2018, when she was 91 years of age. I lost track trying to count how many of Alex Katz’ paintings they own; there are 137 records.

In light of this, why not hide behind a gender-neutral set of initials, or, even better, a false name? Because to do so is to capitulate to the world, to agree to its assumption that male painters are superior. If my generation doesn’t challenge this assumption, who will?  

There’s also the stubbornness of identity. I am who I am, for better or ill. That’s complex; it involves boats and building as much as it does children and grandchildren. Concealing that complexity simply perpetuates gender stereotypes, which I think have gotten more rigid, not less, during my lifetime.

*Every time I read about a massive survey like these, I wonder who has time to count these things.

Confidence is key for women artists

Do you allow yourself to believe you’re good at what you do? If not, why not?

Campbell’s Field, by Carol L. Douglas. At the time I painted this, I thought I was a pretty poor painter. 

I rudely eavesdropped on a conversation about negotiating salary. The speaker, thirty-something, was describing input from friends and family. “Dad said, ‘ask for the highest figure in their range,’ and Steve said, ‘ask for $5000 more.’” The negotiator—a woman—asked for $1500 more. She low-balled herself. At her age, I would have done worse. I’d have meekly accepted whatever was put on the table.

The gender pay gap is more complicated than simple sexism. It starts with college graduates’ first jobs. Part of this is based on the college tracks women prefer (non-STEM) but part of it is simple confidence. The responsibility for that rests with us, as women. No manager has ever insisted that a candidate take more than what was first offered.

Bridle path, by Carol L. Douglas. Same vintage.

The confidence gap is even more of a challenge in the art world, where success is based on selling oneself. Frankly, women are lousy at it. I’ve written hereherehereherehere, and hereabout gender disparity in the art world, and it hasn’t gotten any better. The gap between men’s and women’s pay in the arts is worse than it is in the economy as a whole. That’s a clue that the gender gap is about far more than just majoring in STEM subjects.

My daughter and her husband have turned job stereotypes on their head. She’s a computer programmer; he’s a social worker. “When she knows she’s excellent at something, she’s very confident about it,” he says. That is new. As a recent college graduate, she was unsure. She allowed herself to be hired at the bottom of the pay range. She’s wised up and is working to narrow that.

Upper and Middle Falls, Letchworth, by Carol L. Douglas.

I often tell people I only know how to do two things well, and one of them is not cooking. I can paint, and I can write and teach about painting. In those narrow tracks, I’m competent. More importantly, I know it.

But I wasn’t always that way. Paintings I did twenty years ago are no less accomplished than my paintings today (albeit in a different style). Why did I feel then that I was a poseur and today I feel capable? What has changed?

In part, I was influenced by what others said about me. There are supportive communities and others that subtly undercut our self-esteem. Think back through recent interactions with your peers. Did they encourage you to take risks, or float good ideas for improvements? Or do they subtly discourage you? If the latter, perhaps you need new friends. (Family is not so easy to change, unfortunately.)

Lower Falls, Letchworth, by Carol L. Douglas

Sometimes the person who smack-talks you is not your so-called friend, it’s you, yourself. Your inner monologue has a critical impact on your confidence. Try to listen to your own commentary and analyze it dispassionately. If you find yourself constantly running yourself down, stop and redirect those thoughts.

Start by intentionally choosing a posture of thankfulness. I know of no more powerful tool to reframe our attitudes. In giving thanks, we focus on what’s right and good, rather than on what’s broken.

Women, in particular, are trained to be modest about their achievements. But there’s a fine line between humility and self-effacing meekness. Confident people take credit for their own achievements—to themselves as well as to others. As a teacher, I’ve noticed that people who were successful and confident in their careers bring that expectation of success into painting.

If you don’t have that, don’t despair. Instead, challenge yourself in some area that’s far outside your experience. Doing something risky and difficult is a great way to start to understand your own strength. The time I’ve spent alone in the wilderness has been a powerful spur to my own self-confidence. We send boys to camp to get filthy and learn to start fires without matches; we don’t send our daughters. We should.

Women are trained to be helpers and—as I mentioned before—that can be a trap. But it’s also a strength we can build on. I have found mentoring to be a great spur to my self-confidence, if for no other reason than that the people I’ve mentored admire me.

But there’s something to be said for plain old age. I think in some ways I’ve simply outlasted my insecurities. They’re exhausting, and at this age I have better things to do with my time.

Devastatingly resistible men and the stupid things they say

The sexualization of a young, competent competitor is a way to put that woman in her ‘proper’ place.
Athabasca Glacier, by Carol L. Douglas

“She’s great,” a woman told me about a young woman artist. “Excellent drafting, fantastic brushwork. But, actually, I think she has more ground to cover before she hits her full potential.” It was an admiring, supportive, incisive comment.

“Nice ass,” said one of her male peers.
The vast majority of the men I know in the art world are kind and decent fellows. But not all. (Sadly, the offenders are unlikely to read this blog.) Consider the artist who importunes a woman his daughter’s age for a date, while he has a long-standing partner at home. Or the pair who mutter suggestive comments about another artist to each other while sitting right next to an older lady. (As women of a certain age know, with wrinkles and grey hair comes a magic cloak of invisibility.)
Parker Dinghy, by Carol L. Douglas
When I was young, I put on a stiff face and ignored cat-calling. After all, women are trained to be polite. I wish I had said something instead. It wasn’t until my own daughters reached that age that I realized how corrosive it is. But, for some reason, young women generally don’t have the power to control the situation. “It’s not important,” they tell me, or “It happens everywhere. Might as well get used to it.”
I talked with another young woman artist yesterday. She’s changed her mind about it. “I’ve resolved to call them out,” she told me. I wish her well. More young women should do so.
Three Graces, by Carol L. Douglas. Courtesy Camden Falls Gallery.
The sexualization of a young, competent competitor is a way to put that woman in her ‘proper’ place. If a man objectifies her, he can ignore the fact that she can paint circles around him. The problem is his, not hers, but it’s still offensive and it coarsens the community.
“It’s a thin veneer of bravado painted over a thick layer of insecurity,” commented another woman artist, comparing that behavior to pack mentality. “These men are not going to take down an older woman, so they hunt the young one instead.”
In the old days of chaperones, a man couldn’t get past an older woman and her sharp stick to make lewd comments. A young woman had the weight of an alpha female on her side. We artists travel alone for the most part, putting us all outside our comfort zones. 
Lake Moraine, by Carol L. Douglas
I have some advice for the men who act like this: get over yourself. You’re not devastatingly irresistible. You’re not funny, either. You’d do your career far more good by shutting up and being a gentleman. That way, even though your painting is lousy, you’ll be remembered as a nice guy.
Young women: bear in mind that these old gaffers feel threatened by you. But don’t let them objectify you. Call them out.
Old men: that could be your daughter. Don’t let that kind of thing pass.
Old women: nobody expects a grandmother to have a sharp right hook.

Lois Dodd in New York

It’s not often you get to see the work of a living master, so go see this show while there’s still time.

Two Red Drapes and Part of White Sheet, 1981, Lois Dodd

If you like reading phrases like, “sets up a dialectic between an implication of distance and the optical immediacy of design,” by all means buy Lois Dodd, by Faye Hirsch. I don’t, but I like picture books. And I appreciate any attention paid to Lois Dodd. She is one of the masters of 20th century art, but has been overshadowed by her male brethren.

The 90-year-old painter has summered in Cushing, ME for six decades. She was part of a wave of New York modernists who came to Maine at the end of World War II. They were following an historic line of painters, starting with the Hudson River School artists. All of them found freedom and inspiration here. For Dodd and her peers, Maine was where they could break away from the strictures of Abstract Expressionism and explore representational painting.
Dodd never achieved the fame of the men who joined her on this trek to Maine: Fairfield PorterRackstraw DownesAlex Katz, Charles DuBack, and Neil Welliver. This was despite her sterling pedigree as a painter.

Globe Thistle, 1996, Lois Dodd

She was educated at Cooper Union, and one of five founding members of the Tanager Gallery. This was one of New York’s first artist cooperatives and central to the avant-garde scene of the time. Dodd taught at Brooklyn College and at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She is an elected member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and of the National Academy of Design.

Dodd didn’t receive her first solo museum show until 2013, and it wasn’t in New York, but at the Portland Museum of Art. “Artists who have experience in both New York and Maine will tell you that Maine is much friendlier to women artists,” wroteEdgar Allen Beam at the time. “Indeed, Caldbeck Gallery in Rockland, Dodd’s Maine gallery, can boast of gender equity with 51% of the artists it represents being women.
“I suppose the fact that Dodd mostly paints interiors, landscapes, gardens, flowers and female nudes in a very matter-of-fact modernist style of realism might explain why New York area museums – in love as they are with flash and fads – have failed her,” Beam continued.
View Through Elliot’s Shack Looking South, 1971, Lois Dodd
Well, yeah. She’s not agonizing over sex, and she has an affection for the things she observes. What room does the art establishment have for that?
Meanwhile, the Alexandre Gallery, her New York representative, is finishing up its thirteenth show of Dodd’s work. Lois​ ​Dodd:​ ​Selected Paintings​, runs for one more week, until January 27, 2018.
Two Trees, Afternoon Light, 2014, Lois Dodd
At 90, Dodd continues to paint, although she doesn’t get out like she used to. Mortality is staring her in the face, as it does with us all. She is one of the greatest living American masters, and this might be your last chance to see her work before she is frozen in time. If you’re in the metro New York area this week, you really should go.


Rewriting Painting

A panel discussion chaired by Barry Schwabsky, featuring painters Lois Dodd, Thomas Nozkowski and Philip Taaffe, and art critics Faye Hirsch and John Yau
Thursday, April 19, 2018, 6:30pm – 8pm

Join Barry Schwabsky and a panel of leading painters and critics for a lively debate on the state and shape of contemporary painting and its critical reception. How far have artists extended the boundaries of the medium in the 21st century, and what does it mean to be identified as a painter today? Is the word ‘painting’ still adequate to describe a practice which no longer necessarily involves paint or flat surfaces? And to what extent do the ways in which we write about painting influence both the public’s reception of the work and contemporary practice itself?

Self-defeating behavior?

Perhaps women make less money because we tend to take our careers less seriously than men do.

American Eagle in Dry Dock, by Carol L. Douglas

I’ve written about gender inequality in prices achieved by male and female artists. I’ve also writtenabout the gender gap in the broader arts industry. Women in the arts earn 68¢ for every dollar earned by men. That’s far worse than in the overall economy, where women can expect to earn 79¢ for every male-earned dollar.

There’s gender disparity in arts prizes, too. We see it at every awards celebration. It’s somewhat puzzling because the judging for art prizes is usually ‘blind’, meaning the juror doesn’t know who the artist is. However, that’s a leaky bucket, since most of us recognize each other’s work even when the work isn’t signed.
Dinghy, Camden Harbor, by Carol L. Douglas
If work is genuinely judged without knowledge of who the artist is, what do judges see in men’s work that they don’t in women’s work? Men tend to paint bigger at plein airevents; they buy into the cliché, “go big or go home” more than women do. Bigger work is flashier and more likely to catch a juror’s eye. That’s about the only qualitative gender-based difference I’ve seen, and it’s hardly absolute. I’ve strained to look for them, and differences in subject matter, competence, temperament or viewpoint are simply not there.
Lisa BurgerLentz and I were chatting last week about the idea of professionalism. She proposed that artists who define themselves as professionals tend to earn more money than those who see themselves as dedicated hobbyists or amateurs. I looked around the sales floor at Adirondack Plein Air and thought she was right. Those painters who see themselves as pros charge more money and put effort into creating a consistent package of framing, image, and product. They have developed a sales patter that works. To be a professional artist, you do a lot more than create beautiful work.
Bev’s Garden, by Carol L. Douglas
Bobbi Heath and I drove to Long Island Beach, New Jersey, yesterday for Plein Air Plus. In her prior life, Bobbi was a tech project manager who worked in entrepreneurial start-ups. She brings those management skills to her art career. “No one else bestows on you the title of ‘professional.’ You decide whether you’re a professional or not. It’s not about how much you sell. It is based on your view of yourself. Being a professional is about how you approach your work. It’s an attitude that you have about yourself and your career.”
None of this has anything to do with artistic brilliance. I assume that anyone reading this is already striving to be the best painter he or she can be. In the marketplace, artistic brilliance is a chimera. It’s irrelevant to sales, because there’s a market for anything. It’s also a subjective definition.
Keuka Clearing Sky, by Carol L. Douglas
Perhaps women make less money because we tend to take our careers less seriously than men do. We shy away from the hard work of comparative pricing, marketing, and market development, partially because those aren’t areas we have any experience in. We tend to see our low income as an indictment of our worth, rather than a stage in our business development. If that’s the case, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot.

Why do you do what you do?

It is possible to be a successful woman artist and mother, if one has an exceptional husband, good time-management skills, and an iron will.
Daddy’s little helper, 2015, Carol L. Douglas
Yesterday I was reveling in the simplicity of my job. I had planned no deep thinking; it would be a day alone with my brushes.
That never works. “Why do you do what you do?” asked a regular reader.
The easy answer is that it’s the only thing I know how to do. A little honesty compels me to admit that this isn’t entirely true. I can write. I could retire if I want. Clearly, something besides necessity drives me.
In fact, my reader sensed that. “Why do you teach, travel all over the place, produce as much work as you do?” she continued. “Is working at that pace a habit, or something deeper?”
Maternité, 1890, Mary Cassatt. Cassatt, the greatest painter of the mother-child bond, had no children of her own.
Yes, I was raised to work hard, and it’s an ingrained habit. Still, I do take time off. A chance conversation with a Mennonite contractor years ago turned me into a Sabbatarian. He explained what a tremendous gift a regularly-scheduled Sabbath day was. There are a few weekends a year I can’t take off, but in general, you’ll find me working six days and resting on the seventh.
I like painting and I like being on the road. I like the challenge of sizing up new places and trying to reformat them to a 12X16 canvas.
But mostly, I work like this because I can. It’s a pleasure and a shock to be free of day-to-day responsibility for others. Yesterday, I mentioned a Tracey Eminquote about parenting. Here it is in full:
I would have been either 100% mother or 100% artist. I’m not flaky and I don’t compromise. Having children and being a mother… It would be a compromise to be an artist at the same time. I know some women can. But that’s not the kind of artist I aspire to be. There are good artists that have children. Of course there are. They are called men. It’s hard for women. It’s really difficult, they are emotionally torn. It’s hard enough for me with my cat.
When I first started painting full time, another woman artist told me much the same thing. The evidence supported her statement. Most artists (of either gender) in our circle were childless. Those with children also had wives who supported both their family and their art careers.
Mutter mit Jungen, 1933, Käthe Kollwitz. Kollwitz is an exception to rule that says mothers can’t make good artists.
That realization came close to derailing me. I was struggling to make enough time for my kids and art, but the historical reality seemed to be that women with children would always be second-rate painters.
I’m glad I didn’t learn that before the kids were irrevocable. They’re certainly the best work I’ve ever done.
Now that I’m beyond child-care, I think it’s a case where history is not necessarily destiny. Gender roles have changed tremendously in the last century. It is possible for a woman to combine competent child-rearing and any career, provided she has an exceptional husband, good time-management skills, and an iron will.
But the question my reader asked is an important one. There are many easier ways to live. Why do we do what we do?

Soon-to-be famous woman artist

Indiana Statehouse, by Karen Pence.

Indiana Statehouse, by Karen Pence.
Yesterday, a reader sent me this piece from the Washington Post, asking what the Trump administration means for the arts. I’ve written about the cringeworthy portrait of him by Ralph Wolfe Cowan that hangs in his home in Mar-a-Lago. However, his taste in art hardly matters. Politics doesn’t affect the arts directly; it makes or breaks us in how it runs the economy.
WaPo mentioned that incoming VP Mike Pence and his wife Karen have a strong history of supporting the arts. She has an undergraduate minor in art, she has taught art, worked as an artist, and championed art therapy.
That undergraduate minor was an afterthought. Her college, Butler University, required a declared minor. “I thought gosh, ‘I’d like to learn more about art,” she told the Indianapolis Star on the eve of Pence’s inauguration as governor of Indiana. “I pulled it out of the air.”
Mrs. Pence grew up outside of Indianapolis in a town called Broad Ripple. I’ve painted in Indiana, and I agree with her assessment that “Indiana is just a very special place. There are no other people like Hoosiers.”
When the Pences had children, Karen decided to take an art class. She chose watercolor because it dries fast. “I told Mike I need a night when you’re in charge and I just go have fun,” she said. “Then what happened was, I realized I can paint.”
Unlike Mrs. Pence, I’ve always painted, but work and kids got in the way. I picked up my brushes again when my youngest child was born, from the same need to escape the incessant demands of motherhood. I’d wager that isn’t uncommon.
Indiana First Lady Karen Pence takes in the 91st Annual Hoosier Salon Exhibition at the Indiana Historical Society, August 2015 (courtesy of http://www.in.gov/).

Indiana First Lady Karen Pence takes in the 91st Annual Hoosier Salon Exhibition at the Indiana Historical Society, August 2015. (Courtesy of http://www.in.gov/)
What followed for Karen Pence was a series of house portrait commissions: well-executed and deeply traditional. As a politician’s wife, she’s had the opportunity to champion art to a broader audience. In 2008, she became the honorary chair of the Art Therapy Committee at the Riley Hospital for Children. The Indiana First Lady’s Charitable Foundation, has, during her tenure, focused on children, families and the arts.
Karen Pence also ran an Etsy shop, selling something she called “towel charms.” It was suspended during the election, but not before it was broadly ridiculed.
Indiana First Lady Karen Pence working with students from Southside Elementary School on an art exchange program with Japanese students (courtesy of http://www.in.gov/).

Indiana First Lady Karen Pence working with students from Southside Elementary School on an art exchange program with Japanese students. (Courtesy of http://www.in.gov/)
Those who lampooned her towel charms as ‘useless’ have apparently spent no time at all on Etsy, where whimsy is the by-word that has created an $85.3 million a year business. While I certainly wouldn’t defend her towel charms as ‘art,’ I would note that art is intended to be useless. In fact, lack of purpose is the primary distinction between fine art and fine craft.
Do I think Karen Pence is a great artist? No, but I hardly see how that matters. Teacher, wife, mother, artist, operator of an Etsy shop: it’s the resume of many working artists.
As we ponder how to close the gender gap in the art world (here and here), I suggest that we quit apologizing for being women. It’s not like male artists don’t work other jobs at points in their careers (including child care). The bottom line is, no matter what lip service they give to feminism, many intellectuals don’t really like the things women actually do.

Speaking up

Being small has its disadvantages.

Being small has its disadvantages.
Yesterday I wrote about a survey confirming the gender gap in the art world. (Women in the arts earn 68¢ for every dollar earned by men.)  That sparked a lively conversation, which I’m sharing with you more or less verbatim:
“It’s interesting when there’s a group of painters set up and you notice passersby only going to engage the male painters, or they ask if he’s teaching a workshop.”
“I was asked to join a co-op. When I showed up, they were surprised; they thought I was a man. Last week Steve was helping me bring my work in and someone asked if I was helping him.”
“I was set up during International Paint-Out Day at Otter Cliffs about six feet from a man who was outfitted in his painter’s vest, high leather boots with his pants tucked in, and a big brimmed safari hat. I saw many vacationers strolling around the rocks, but most of them would just go and look at the guys’ easels. One couple just kind of walked around until they saw where we were standing and walked all the way from the shoreline up to his easel, and bought the painting. It was his first time out, and he was new at painting, but he looked the part and that’s all it took.”
I've taken to carrying a riding crop so that passers-by will know I'm the teacher. Just kidding.

I’ve taken to carrying a riding crop so that passers-by will know I’m the teacher. Just kidding.
“That’s one of the reasons why I sign my paintings with only my last name. It doesn’t indicate my gender.”
“An artist friend painted a very large oil. She walked into the gallery as the sale of said painting was going on. The man buying it was introduced to her, and exclaimed, ‘A little girl like you painted this?’ And walked out of the gallery.”
“I won the top prize at a plein air event. My work sold adequately; about the same as it would have in a gallery. A few paintings later, the auctioneer was trying to gin up business, and said, ‘c’mon guys, So-and-So is a professionalartist.’”
“Back when I used to do a pretty full schedule of summer shows, I cannot tell you how often people assumed ‘JC’ was my husband. He’s tall; I’m small—bigger presence. It used to irk me that once he redirected them to me, they were always so surprised.”
“On too many occasions I’ve had to defend my right to use my initials as my business name and signature, always to male artists. At least one told me flat out that if I was truly proud of who I was and my work, I wouldn’t have to hide behind my initials.”
One of the best posses I ever rode with was this group of women at Adirondack Plein Air. From left, Mira Fink, Crista Pisano, me, Marlene Wiedenbaum, Laura Bianco, Kari Ganoung Ruiz and Tarryl Gabel.

One of the best posses I ever rode with was this group of women at Adirondack Plein Air. From left, Mira Fink, Crista Pisano, me, Marlene Wiedenbaum, Laura Bianco, Kari Ganoung Ruiz and Tarryl Gabel.
I’m going to add one more story of my own, about a gallerist who refused to even talk to a friend about representation, averring that “women can’t paint.”
Yesterday, Sue Baines, owner of The Kelpie Gallery, commented, “I think across the board, we need to be retrained, from female artists who apologetically price their work for less, to the art buyer/collector who undervalues a female artist’s work.”
How do we do that?

A tale of two pretties

“Bluewald,” 1989, by Cady Nolan, is the top-selling work by a living woman artist. It sold for $9.8 million at auction in Spring 2015. If you think that's a lot, compare it to $58.4 million for a Jeff Koons.

“Bluewald,” 1989, by Cady Nolan, is the top-selling work by a living woman artist. It sold for $9.8 million at auction in Spring 2015. If you think that’s a lot, compare it to $58.4 million for a Jeff Koons.
Artists are generally politically liberal. So why are they more backward than the rest of society in compensating women?
I’ve written about gender inequality in prices achieved by male and female artists. Now a large study confirms that the gender gap is alive and well for those holding art degrees. Women in the arts earn 68¢ for every dollar earned by men. That’s far worse than in the broader economy, where women can expect to earn 79¢ for every male-earned dollar.
The study used data from the 2011 Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP), which included almost 34,000 respondents, all of whom held degrees in the arts. Of this group, about half were not working directly in the arts sector. A quarter were creators themselves. Roughly speaking, it isn’t having an art degree that kills you economically; it’s having an art degree and being female that’s deadly.
Working for a non-profit organization is almost as much of a liability as being female, it turns out. That will earn you a $17K drop in salary if you’re male or a $7K drop if you’re female.
“Mirror Room (Pumpkin),” 1991, by Yayoi Kusama. She tops the list for living women in terms of the aggregate value of her work sold at auction: nearly $216 million at the end of 2015.

“Mirror Room (Pumpkin),” 1991, by Yayoi Kusama. She tops the list for living women artists in terms of the aggregate value of her work sold at auction: nearly $216 million at the end of 2015.
And if you’re thinking it would be better in other places than in the troglodytic United States, think again. A similar survey in the UK found similar results.
Artsy did an excellent analysis of the data, here, and it’s worth weeping over.
One reason women’s salaries lag in every industry is that women are far less likely to negotiate job offers than their male peers. I know two young women who took the wages they were offered at their current professional jobs. The first is a programmer; the second is a gallerist. In the case of the programmer, her employer—a heartless, multinational defense contractor—has since worked to reduce the gap, since her boss wants to retain her. In the case of the gallerist, the initial insult was compounded by violations of labor law such as asking her to train on her own time.
Spare me the liberal pieties about social justice, my art-industry friends, until you are willing to promote, support and compensate women equally with their male peers. What I really want for Christmas is to never read news like this again.