Tag Archives: women artists

How Do Artists Get Their Work Into A Museum?

The most common way for a living artist to get their paintings into a museum is to win or be a finalist in an international art competition. The annual BP Portrait Award exhibits winners at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Another example would be the Art Renewal Centers (ARC) annual award that includes a museum exhibit at the Museum European Art Modern (MEAM) in Barcelona.

The second most common way is to be invited by a curator for a theme. In the late 1980’s a curator named Jean Hubert Martin brought together the voices of artists from Africa, the Australian Aboriginals and Latin America for the Center Pompidou and the Grand Hall in Paris called Magicians of the Earth.

Often a curator has presented a thesis on a movement and releases its publication with a tour of work that had prevalence in that movement. Helen Molesworth the former Chief Curator of MOCA LA (with Dieter Roelstraete and Ian Alteveer) deeply researched the life retrospective of Alabama artist Kerry James Marshal. Curators often work with multiple museums sharing the exhibition costs. The Marshal exhibit traveled from MCA Chicago to the MET Breuer and then finished at the MOCA LA. (Artists do not make money from their work hung in a museum unless the museum buys a piece of art later).

The third way is if an artists work (usually someone of great fame or demand at auctions) has become something of interest in the art world. This would include some of the billionaire artists like John Currin and Ed Ruscha. (For more on billionaire and millionaire living artists, please read my article on Starving Artists vs Millionaire Artists.

The fourth way for your art to exhibited at a museum is for a prominent collector to be invited to display their collection. These can be older, family collections like The Borghese or the Farnese Collection in Rome, or modern art collectors like Doris and Donald Fisher who founded San Francisco’s Gap Inc. Usually these collections reflect artists with well documented auction and gallery demand or well loved in their community. Collectors will often exhibit their treasures to increase the value of the whole collection (saving the expense of insurance premiums). If you see the collection in a home magazine it is usually a signal the collection or several pieces of it will be up for sale or on loan. No one advertises their collection for burglars.

The fifth way is for the museum (usually a specialty museum like The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum) to reach out to people who paint under that criteria. In my case it was an exhibit based on the theme of The Mythic Image. Artist Gage Taylor (d.2000) and I had collaborated on paintings of archetypal themes that repeated in the East, the Middle East, and the West for 17 years.

Thank you for reading this article. For more articles on what galleries look for in an artist and other art eccentricities, please click through to the articles below.

Cover image:  Museu Europeu d’art Modern – MEAM Barcelona, Spain

Starving Artists vs Millionaire Artists

The concept of “the starving artist” is a belief popularized by the 19th century Romantic Art Movement. They made it fashionable to be poor.

These were the artists that rejected the classic teachings of the academies as well as traditional patronage. They intentionally alienated themselves from formal training, worldly success, and family support so they could create “what came from their soul and their own impulses”. Martyrdom was the hash-tag of the day.

Adelheid M. Gealt in her book, Looking At Art, A Visitor’s Guide to Museum Collections examines the artist’s self induced alienation from society:

“The early masters-Titian, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Guercino-became the stuff of biography and legend that emphasized their talent, inspiration, and romantic attachments. Gradually, the eighteenth-century ideal of the artist—that urbane, witty, poised, and cultivated member of society gave way to a new model. Rough, uncultivated, isolated, misunderstood, and tortured by greatness, the nineteenth-century artist was a creature of genius and superior sensibilities who fulfilled his destiny best by dying young.”

Gealt goes on to say that because the Romantic artist relied primarily on inspiration and the internal voice of genius, failure was accepted as a natural outcome of any artistic endeavor and that without an occasional disaster, no artist was considered authentic.

Film and books love recreating these romantic scenarios about artists because they are dramatic and drama sells. Unfortunately, continually recreating these martyr-for-entertainment moments has society and many artists trapped in a samsaric loop.

Artists in the 21st Century do not have the luxury to separate themselves from society. Technology is doing that for them in the same way it is causing a huge divide in society. We are told that to succeed we must constantly post our personal evolution as an artist on social media when in professional reality, it strips the emotion out of our images, makes it feel commonplace as well as unnecessary to purchase. (For more on this phenomenon I highly recommend Jaron Lanier’s best selling book, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now).

Millionaire artists are not interacting on social media but immersing their non studio time in genuine human interaction with communities, corporations, and collectors.

The art world has devolved in America over the last decade, into two separate realities. There are the 1% financially elite, and then the working poor. Its middle class is disappearing. This should concern all of us because the arts are the unseen fabric of every thing you use or purchase in life.

As in the rest of the business world, the art world has its own 1%. They are painters, sculptors, and photographers that have become self-made multi millionaires or billionaires off their art.

We need to stop perpetuating the 19th century stereotype of artists being self absorbed martyrs too delicate to make a living. Until we do, we will continue to lose the backbone of every innovation America has to offer. One of my goals years ago as an Arts Ambassador for the US State Department, was to get artists to believe a living income was possible and what they did was of value. To that end I would like to share some of our millionaire success stories.

Many artists will not disclose their net worth (for obvious reasons). One only has to wonder what Kitsch painter Odd Nerdrum’s net worth must be to owe 2.6 million in taxes? I’ve chosen only the most glaring examples based on auction or highly publicized sales.

Here are a few living painters and their net worth in US dollars. I’ve included female as well as male artists. 

Millionaire Artists - John Curran

John Currin (American, b.1962) Net worth 1.43 Billion. Currin paints figurative art with provocative sexual and social scenes.

Damien Hirst (British. b.1965). Net worth 1 Billion. Conceptual Artist.

Ed Ruscha (American, b.1937). Net worth 1.2 Billion. Long associated with the Pop Art Movement, over 50 of Ruscha’s paintings have sold for over a million dollars at auction and another for slightly under 7 million at Christies, NY.  His paintings and photographs depict iconographic Southern California.

Jeff Koons (American, b.1954) Net worth 500 Million. He sold one of his balloon dogs for $58.4 million in 2013

Jasper Johns (American, b.1930) Net worth 300 Million (technically he’s a sculptor).

David Choe (Chinese America, b.1955) Net worth 200 Million.

Andrew Vicari (Welsh, b.1932) Net worth 142 Million. Official painter to the king of Saudi Arabia. Known as the Rembrandt of Riyadh.

Anthony Gormley (London, UK, b.1950) Net worth 100 Million (sculptor). Many of his works he has used his own body for the moulds.

Takashi Murakami (Japanese, b.1962) Net worth 100 Million. This Tokyo based artist has created painted sculpture for fashion, advertising and animation. As an artist, he achieved celebrity status via Louis Vuitton and later from an album cover created for Kanye West. He sold one piece of sculpture at Art Basel for over 2 million dollars.

David Hockney (British, b.1937) Net worth 40 Million. Hockney began his career with the pop art movement of the 1960’s. Hockney is as famous as a stage designer as he is as a painter. Appointed by the Queen to the Order of Merit and is a Royal Academian.

Gerhard Richter (German, b.1932) Net worth 40 Million sold a painting for 37.1 million in 2013 and 44.52 million in 2015 setting world records for paintings sold by a living artist.

Anish Kapoor (British Indian, b.1954) Net worth 62.7 Million. Large public sculptures. Former Turner Prize Winner.

Andreas Gursky (Germany, b.1955) Net worth 30 Million. A photographer who sold one print for nearly 4.5 million. He creates the illusion of wide spaces.

Cindy Sherman (b.1954) Net worth 35 Million (a photographer but a woman so worth mentioning). Queen of the selfies, photographed herself 69 times in every female cliché.

Richard Prince (b.1949 in the Panama Canal Zone). Net worth 30 Million. Not a man liked by other artists. He is known for appropriated imagery. He re-photographs, copies, scans, and manipulates the work of others; in other words he has crafted a technique of appropriation and provocation.

Christopher Wool (American, b.1955) sold a painting for 26.5 million in 2013.

Georg Basellitz (German, b.1938) Net worth 20 Million. Neo-expressionist post modern painter known for bright colors and upside down figures.

Chuck Close (American, b.1940) Net worth 25 Million. Photorealistic images. Recognized by his massive, room size portraits.

Brice Marden (American, b.1939) Net Worth 500 Million. Minimalist . Although classically trained at Yale he developed an interest in Abstract Expressionism. I love how the universe really wanted this man to create art. Marden was going to go to school in Florida to learn to be a hotel manager when a teacher gave him a MOMA membership card to go see an exhibit by Jackson Pollack who had just died. He decided to transfer to Boston University for his BFA. This in turn led him to a summer program at Yale’s Summer School of Music. He became classmates with soon to be famous artists like Chuck Close. He also married Joan Baez’s sister, Pauline. He was exposed to Jasper Johns when working part time as a guard at the Jewish Museum.

Here are some women artists and what their paintings demand:

Cady Noland (American, b.1956) 6.6 Million (one painting), 9.8 million one painting “The broken illusion of the American Dream”, Silkscreen ink on aluminum plate.

Yayoi Kusama (Japanese, b.1929) 5.8 Million (one painting). Works primarily in sculpture and installation.

Bridget Riley (British, b. 1931) 5.1 Million (one painting), British Op Art.

Julie Mehretu (Ethiopian/American b.1970) 4.6 Million (one painting).

Jenny Saville (British, b.1970) 3.5 Million (one painting). Known for large scale painted depictions of nude women.

Viji Celmins (Latvian, b. 1938) 2.4 Million (one painting) 3.4 million Sotheby’s (2014 painting). Photo realistic paintings of natural environmental elements.

Beatriz Milhazes (Brazilian, b.1960) 2.1 Million (one painting). Brazilian modern cultural imagery.

Lee Bontecou (American, b.1931) 1.9 Million (one painting). Excellent sculptor and printmaker.

Marlene Dumas (South African, b.1953) 6.3 Million (one painting).

Rosemarie Trockel (German, b. 1952) 4.9 million  (one painting). Creates a number of pieces in knitted wool.

Tracy Emin (British, b.1963) 4.3 million. Installation art.

Cindy Sherman (American, b. 1954). 35 million (photographer) sold one print for 4 million, another 2.7 million.

Hugh Honour, Romanticism (New York: Harper & Row, 1976), p.16

Featured Image: Jasper Johns, Two Flags 1973


Looking At Art, A Visitor’s Guide to Museum Collections by Adelheid M.Gealt R.R. Bowker Company, New York & London, 1983. P.366-367

Artists and Money: Ending the Martyred Stereotype • Uriél Dana Fine Art

Women In the Arts: Drawing New Boundaries • Uriél Dana Fine Art

Making Money As An Artist: To Have Talent Once Meant You Were Wealthy • Uriél Dana Fine Art

Women In the Arts: Drawing New Boundaries

© Uriél Dana 2017

When I began my painting career artists did not have the luxury of the Internet. We sent slides to galleries and publishers, waiting weeks for our precious and expensive images to be returned in our self addressed and stamped return envelopes.

Women artists were not welcomed as they are today. Luckily, few knew if I was a male or female by my first name. It was a great advantage. By the time my work was accepted, galleries could not decline the art if they discovered I was a woman. It may seem ridiculous, but they were different times.

There has always been an underlying and widespread belief that women were not as good as men in the arts or there would be more of them in the history books. People often mistake the lack of visibility of women in the arts with women not being great artists.

Only now with restoration techniques and the global access of diligent art historians are we finding treasures created by women in the vaults of museums and churches. We are learning just how many creations of famous artists were in fact made by their wives and daughters. It is even believed that the ancient cave paintings around the world were likely painted by women.

Women in the past were rarely allowed to train in the arts. They were allowed to do pottery, weaving, and textile arts such as needlepoint but they were limited to still lifes or florals. They were also allowed to “create for love”, the original meaning of the world amateur.

These restrictions were because women were not allowed to look at the human body. (This was also a hurdle with women trying to become medical doctors). Drawing a man’s genitalia would quite literally make her an outcast for life.

When tight boundaries for women are removed they excel in all of the arts. Artemisia Gentileschi, the daughter of a painter, became the first woman member of the Accademia dell’Arte. (Unfortunately, she did so before her artist husband. We can imagine how much fun that was…)

Elisabeth Vigée LeBrun was the daughter of two artists and had royal patronage by the time she was 14. She painted royalty across Europe and Russia but became most known for painting Marie Antoinette and the French aristocracy. It was no picnic. She complains in her autobiography about having to work like a slave to pay for herself, her daughter, her teachers, the maid, a domestic, a carriage, a cook, a household, travel expenses and a husband fond of fancy dress.

In Holland, Judith Leyster was only allowed to study painting after her banker father went bankrupt. She not only bailed her father out financially with her talent, but she supported her whole family. To add insult to injury nearly every painting she did was misattributed to Frans Hals. The list goes on and on.

I was very fortunate to have an extended apprenticeship with one of the six originators of what came to known as California Visionary Art. Years later I married him. However, much like Elizabeth Gardner Bouguereau, I had established my own art career before risking being in the shadow of another. Owning our own voice as an artist will keep us out of the shadows. We have the pens, the pencils, and the brushes to draw our own boundaries when it comes to being a woman in the arts.

Boundaries are rarely designed with a straight edge; they have nooks and crannies and soft areas. Each time I was able to get my foot in the door as a woman I left a shoe there to keep it open for another. Artists, male and female, need to nurture one another, not compete. Creativity does not flourish with a closed heart or mind.

It is said, “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did but backwards and in high heals”. Being a woman artist in the 21st century is very much the same.


Featured Image: Academy of Realist Art (ARA), Toronto, Canada.

Discrimination of Women In the Arts

In the arts, discrimination continues to be a major issue. Here are some stats from Guerrilla Girls West, the conscience of the art world.

90% of Art Models are Women.

65% of Art Students are Women.

20% of Art Faculty are Women.

Nearly half (45%) of all professional artists are Women.

In “blind” art competitions (where the juror does not know who did the work) the percentage of women artists accepted is consistently close to the percentage of women who enter the competitions.

Art Museums represent an average only 15% of women artists in curated (invitational) exhibits. Minority women .003%.

Only 4% of museum acquisitions are work done by women artists.

Gender clearly over rides quality when gender is known.

Here is a link to a short article I wrote on the world’s warped perception of women in the arts: Women in the Arts: Drawing New Boundaries.

Why Technology Will Never Replace the Artist

Our world has gone mad since the 2016 US elections and we are all terrified. We are shellshocked with betrayal. We are filled with fear for our brothers and sisters who can not defend themselves and the violations of a Constitution that threaten all our ancestors gave their lives for. We fear for our planet. I get it. My heart hurts, it’s hard to breathe.

I am a person that holds creativity as one of the highest forms of enlightenment. It is easy to want to give up my daily sharing of artwork and its impact in this time of chaos. Without beauty, empathy and manners we will never survive this.

Without art, we have no modern world.

Artists design our clothes, the packaging our food comes in, the tools in our kitchens and in the garage. Artists design our furniture, and our homes (architecture is one of the fine arts).

Artists design toys and the silly costumes people dress their pets in for Halloween or when its cold. Artists design our video games and the look of the movies we watch. Artists design special effects.

Do not think the tools of the artist can replace the artist.

These are just a few of the jobs that come from fine art training. Art schools (legitimate ones) teach structure, perspective, the chemistry of color, design, composition but most of all develop the area of the brain associated with problem solving and constructive reasoning.

Featured Image: Handcrafted crayons made from Beeswax

Art, Social Media, And the Nationalist Agenda

Many people are familiar with the English artist William Hogarth but do not realize he was also a brilliant social critic and editorial cartoonist in his day.

Hogarth was famous for blasting the politically corrupt, social integration, & the vulgarHis “Modern Moral Subjects” was the Facebook of the 16th Century.  Ironically, he owned a dog named Trump.

Artists by nature are the eyes, ears, heart & soul of a country; the pulse of the collective body of the unconscious. As with any body, you can have healthy white blood cells that heal or cancer cells that kill.

Cancer cells destroy by devouring healthy cells or organs. They do not care if they kill a single organ or the entire body. They are completely self serving, oblivious to the destruction they leave in their wake.

A cancer has moved into our political system and it is eating away at everything that made the USA the country of innovation it once was. Beginning with the Supreme Court’s decision in 2010, Citizens United permitted corporations to be allowed the same rights as individuals, and super PACs to create a system of tax exempt “dark money.”

Corporations began funding politicians that would represent their financial interestsMost candidates, especially in the Republican party, no longer represent the people, but the interests of the corporations that funded their campaigns.

Hundreds of Millions of dollars have been spent on propaganda machines like Fox & Friends, Sinclair Broadcast Group, and the Trump propaganda machine. The intention seems to flood social media with false flag news stories and the embarrassments of Trump himself. People are indignant over distractions while our constitutional rights are being stripped and our country raped by corporations.

People living like refugees and hostages to the American Plutocracy, continue to bicker and bully like grade school children. The arts have become relegated to something people will think about later. The truth is, art needs to be pushed to the top of our collective education.

I have often said, “the part of our brain that helps us create, is also the part of our brain that helps us creatively solve problems. When the arts are removed from our schools you get a population incredibly easy to manipulate through the media”.

When I was traveling with the US State Department with the former Arts America Program, Art Ambassadors would be sent into places with an anti-American sentiment. The government recognized something important, even then:

“There is a universal art spirit that transcends the work of a thousand politicians. It transcends medium, style, language, or governments.”

In my experience, I’ve never met a racist artist. In fact I don’t think I’ve found anyone more able to find the beauty in our differences in skin tone or ethnicities.

There is a common trait of painters being able to spot the most beautiful, unusual, or unique in nature, architecture or people. We are always seeking that single red flower that holds its own in a field of green grass.

As an artist, one of the first things I noticed about Trump was about how much pride he took judging his beauty pageants. Beauty pageants are the homogenization of everything that would be unique. This is a red flag to someone who is creative. The process of homogenization not only makes everything the same but in dairy products prohibits the cream to separate to the top. By its very nature, that which is unique or special must be submerged.

A nationalist agenda does not want to support creativity in our schools or culture. Art space (that place of creating or connecting with art) feels a lot like meditation, or at the very least, communion. Artists can recognize that space in another which is why walking into a painting or drawing class can feel like you’ve walked into a church.

Artists do not tend to identify one another by narrow parameters such as “Muslim, Christian, or Jew.” How you connect with your sacred interior is viewed as private. Trump’s words and practices penalize and segregate anyone who’s internal process is different by labeling them with highly charged words.

Women artists are a double threat to this nationalist agenda. We now represent over half the population and 55% of management in the workforce.

In the arts, women painters now are leading the way with skill and honors. This is vital to understand this transition of gender in the workplace in regards to Trump. Historically, we live in a unique time as women artists. In the past we have systematically been left out of history books and credit for our art has often gone to our fathers, brothers, and husbands. Only with modern conservation technologies are we now discovering the truth of our legacy.

Currently, 65% of art students are women and nearly half of professional artists are women. Only 15% of museum invitationals are to women. Women know discrimination. We know that when the sex of an artist is unknown our work is selected in equal proportion to men. We are creators of beauty and incensed by anyone that would judge our value as if we were a mare for breeding. The nationalist agenda knows the best way to control a woman is to control her reproductive rights.

Artists are also professionally involved in the protection and conservation of art, and architecture. Many landscape painters are active in preserving the sacred in nature. (If you look at a landscape painting of New York City two hundred years ago you will know in an instant why this is important).

Trump has repeatedly shown a disrespect for the legacy of future generations. In architecture, The Metropolitan Museum of Art begged him for a pair of Art Deco reliefs that were part of the facade of the Bonwit Teller Building for their collection. Trump destroyed them along with the landmark structure to build Trump Tower.

In Washington D.C., Trump also destroyed the Old Post Office Building that housed the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. He decided it would make a better hotel and forced everyone to relocate.

In regards to painting, Trump has used words like degenerate (aka Hitler) to describe paintings such as a Madonna and Child. Deceptively, he has implied such work was commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts. It wasn’t. This is derisive behavior to imply the NEA funds art no one cares about and is a waste of money.

Trump has used this stance to infer he will end funding to the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA funds a small portion of many city orchestras, dance & ballet troupes, and theater productions. Only a few personal art grants are given. Most of the art grants are to help cover insurance and transportation costs of major museum touring exhibits.

Hogarth was known for being witty & subversive. He would be having a field day with the politics of the 21st Century. It’s time for artists, writers, musicians & poets to take his place. Cell phones and social media have created people trapped in the land of the lotus eaters. Only the arts will be able to awaken them.

Featured Image:  Baby Trump, from an idea by London activist Leo Murray.