Guerrilla Girls: The Revolutionary Feminist Group

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The Revolutionary Feminist Group Guerrilla Girls Introduction:

The Guerrilla Girls, a collective of anonymous feminist artists, activists, and advocates for social change, have significantly impacted the art world. Armed with wit, creativity, and a commitment to gender equality, the Guerrilla Girls have successfully challenged the systemic biases in the art industry. This article delves into their origins, members, objectives, and notable actions aimed at promoting their empowering agenda.


The Guerrilla Girls emerged in response to the glaring gender inequality in the art world during the 1980s. Founded in New York City in 1985, the group adopted pseudonyms inspired by famous female artists from history, donning gorilla masks to conceal their identities. This anonymity allowed them to focus on essential issues without focusing on individual recognition.

The Guerrilla Girls consist of a rotating and evolving roster of individuals dedicated to the cause of gender equality. While specific member identities remain undisclosed, they represent diverse backgrounds, including artists, writers, researchers, and activists. They have profoundly impacted the art community worldwide through collaboration and shared values.


The primary objective of the Guerrilla Girls is to expose and challenge the sexism, racism, and other forms of discrimination permeating the art world. They aim to dismantle the institutional barriers that limit opportunities for women and artists of color, encouraging greater inclusivity and diversity within creative spaces. Furthermore, they seek to raise awareness about societal issues that intersect with gender inequality, such as racial justice and LGBTQ+ rights.

The Guerrilla Girls employ various creative tactics to communicate their messages assertively. One of their most renowned strategies involves using provocative posters, billboards, and public art installations to expose women’s lack of representation and unequal treatment in the art industry. Their striking visuals, infused with humor and irony, challenge deep-seated biases and force audiences to confront uncomfortable truths. In addition to street art interventions, the Guerrilla Girls have staged protests at museums, galleries, and art events across the globe. Whether through picketing, distributing flyers, or holding impromptu performances, they highlight instances of discrimination while simultaneously educating the public about underrepresented artists and their contributions.

The Guerrilla Girls also actively engage in critical research, compiling statistics and shining a light on the persistent gender and racial disparities present within the art market. Exposing these disparities through data aims to hold institutions accountable for their lack of diversity and provoke meaningful change. Conclusion: The Guerrilla Girls have left an indelible mark on the feminist movement and the art world alike. They successfully disrupted oppressive norms through bold tactics, provocative messages, and commitment to justice and equality. By challenging institutions and individuals to rectify their biases, the Guerrilla Girls continue to inspire future generations of artists, activists, and change-makers to strive for a more inclusive and equitable world.

Misrepresentation of women in the Art World

Sofonisba Anguissola, ‘s portrait of “King Philip II of Spain”, King Philip II of Spain” was attributed to  Alonso Sánchez Coello.

Artemisia Gentileschi’s painting “Susanna and the Elders” was attributed to her father, Orazio Gentileschi.

Judith Leyster   Most of her works were attributed to Frans Hals or her husband, Jan Miense Molenaer.

Marie-Denise Villers’s portrait of “Charlotte du Val d’Ognes/Young Woman Painting was thought for a long time to be of Jacques-Louis David.

Caroline Louisa For decades, Daly’s watercolors were attributed to John Corry Wilson Daly and Charles Daly.

These highly talented women were paintbrushes from history and art history books. Now let’s see who writes these scholarly reference books … oh! Yes, white man. Do they feel so threatened by talented female artists that they must erase them and take ownership of their works? Women were prohibited from entering art studios or learning anatomy; they painted self-portraits of family, friends, and still life. Women were allowed to be seen nude in Galleries or museums but not allowed to see nakedness.

In 2004, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York made a significant leap forward by opening a new building and reinstalling its permanent collection. This captivating exhibition aimed to showcase artworks from 1880 to 1970, immersing visitors in a rich artistic journey through the years. However, a closer look at the collection revealed a stark gender imbalance.

Of the impressive 410 works displayed in the fourth and fifth-floor galleries, only 16 were created by women. Shockingly, this amounted to a mere 4 percent of the entire exhibit. This underrepresentation of women artists in such a prominent museum raises essential questions about gender equality and reaffirms the need for inclusivity in art.

Women were not the only group to face marginalization within MoMA’s collection. Artists of color also encountered significant barriers when it came to having their works displayed. Sadly, the number of artworks by artists of color was even fewer than the works by women. It is disheartening to realize that the vast artistic contributions made by people of color were not adequately recognized or celebrated in this particular exhibition.

However, it is worth noting that museums have recognized the need for change and progress. Museums like MoMA have consciously tried diversifying their collections and addressing these historical disparities. In April 2015, MoMA took a positive step forward, displaying 7 percent of the results from female artists. Although much work still needs to be done, this increase demonstrates a promising commitment to a more equitable representation of artists in the museum’s spaces.

In conclusion, the revelations surrounding the gender imbalance and the decreased representation of artists of color within MoMA’s permanent collection remind us of the importance of continuously questioning and challenging the status quo. By addressing these gaps and embracing diversity, museums can play a crucial role in reshaping our understanding of art history and fostering a more inclusive cultural landscape.

The art market is a billion-dollar market. Between 2008 and 2019, $196.6 billion was spent at art auctions, and only $4 billion was worked by women. Today, the record price for a work by a currently living artist is 91 million for Jeff Koons’s “Rabbit,” and for a living female artist is 12.4 million for “Propped” by Jenny Saville; it is a large sum, but only 14% of the amount received by Koon.

Renowned Women Artists.

Artemisia Gentileschi (c. 1593-1656 ) studied under her father, Orazio Gentileschi, a renowned artist influenced by Caravaggio. With his support, she became an exceptional artist at a young age and the first woman to be accepted at the “Accademia Delle Arti del Disegno” of Florence. Until recently, Artemisia and her works were unrecognized. Scholars reexamined Artemisa in the 20th and 21st centuries. Her work can now be viewed at the National Gallery in London.

The movie of her life, “Artemisia” (2020-11-25), made her a household name.

Sofonisba Anguissola, an Italian Renaissance painter, was born into a wealthy family in Cremona, Lombardy, in northern Italy, around 1532. She grew up in a society that valued education and the arts, which allowed her to pursue her passion for painting.

At a young age, Anguissola showed great talent and was encouraged to cultivate her artistic skills. She studied under renowned painters such as Bernardino Campi, Bernardino Gatti, and Correggio, honing her technique and developing her unique style.

In 1554, when she was just twenty-two years old, Anguissola embarked on a journey to Rome, the artistic hub of the Renaissance. There, she had the privilege of meeting and being mentored by Michelangelo, one of the greatest artists ever. Under his guidance, she further refined her skills and expanded her artistic horizons.

Anguissola’s career flourished, and she became one of the most sought-after portraitists of her time. She captured the essence of her subjects with remarkable nuance and sensitivity, earning her a reputation for her ability to convey not just their physical likeness but also their inner emotions.

In her later years, Anguissola had the privilege of being visited by Anthony van Dyck, a renowned Flemish painter who greatly admired her work. Van Dyck painted her last portrait, immortalizing her elegance and wisdom. This remarkable painting of Anguissola is now proudly displayed at Knole, a stately home in Kent, England, where it continues to inspire and captivate visitors.

Sofonisba Anguissola’s legacy as a trailblazing female artist and her contributions to the art world cannot be overstated. She defied societal expectations and shattered glass ceilings, leaving behind a rich body of work that is a testament to her talent and enduring artistic impact.

Bernardino Campi Painting Sofonisba c.1550s

Mary Moser (c.1744-1819) and Angelica Kauffman (c.1741-1807) were exceptional artists who made significant contributions to the art world during the 18th century. Mary Moser, born in London, had the privilege of being trained by her skilled Swiss artist father, George Michael Moser (c.1706-1783), who played a crucial role in shaping her artistic talent.

On the other hand, Angelica Kauffman, also known as Maria Anna Angelika Kauffmann, was born in Switzerland. She displayed exceptional artistic prowess from a young age, earning recognition and acclaim in the art community. With their shared passion for art, Mary and Angelica established a strong bond and became close friends.

Both Mary Moser and Angelica Kauffman experienced immense success during their lifetimes. They were not only admired for their exceptional skill but also recognized for their perseverance in a male-dominated field. They were among the 36 founding members of the prestigious British Royal Academy in 1768, showcasing their impact on the art scene. However, it is unfortunate to note that despite their contributions, they were omitted from the commemorative founding and member paintings of the Academy. Despite this omission, the legacy of Mary Moser and Angelica Kauffman remains preserved through their self-portraits, which still adorn the walls of the Academy’s academic hall.

It is worth noting that it took a significant amount of time for another woman to be accepted as a member of the British Royal Academy, emphasizing the challenges faced by women artists during that era. Mary Moser and Angelica Kauffman’s remarkable achievements continue to inspire and serve as a testament to the resilience and talent of women in the arts.

Their stories highlight the importance of acknowledging and celebrating the contributions of women artists throughout history, ensuring their rightful place in the artistic narrative. The artistic legacies of Mary Moser and Angelica Kauffman serve as a reminder of the significance of diversity and inclusion in the art world, paving the way for future generations of women artists.

These are a few uniquely talented female artists who were left in the shadow of the history of art.

Guerrilla Girls
Marie Moser Self Portrait by George Romney c.

Conclusion: The Guerrilla Girls have left an indelible mark on the feminist movement and the art world alike. They successfully disrupted oppressive norms through bold tactics, provocative messages, and commitment to justice and equality. By challenging institutions and individuals to rectify their biases, the Guerrilla Girls continue to inspire future generations of artists, activists, and change-makers to strive for a more inclusive and equitable world.

We were women in transition, raised in one era and coming of age in another, very different time … here we were, entering the workplace in the 1960s, questioning and often rejecting many of the values we had been taught. We were the polite, perfectionist “good girls” who never showed our drive or desires around men. Now, we were becoming mad women, discovering and confronting our ambitions, a quality praised in men but stigmatized still in women.
Lynn Povich