Ageism in the Art World

Ageism is prominent in all parts of the art world: in the gallery scene, in academia, on social media, and more. This video explores the ageism that occurs, referring to experiences shared by many artists in the field. Discussion led by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artists Lauryn Welch and Deepti Menon.

Video Walkthrough

  • The art world is most focused on artists who are 20-35 years of age.
  • Galleries are looking for the next “fresh young talent,” words which are frequently used to describe exhibitions.
  • An example is the Young British Artists group.
  • Middle aged women are largely absent from trendy New York City galleries
  • Most of the time all you hear about is the recent MFA graduate from Columbia and their “meteoric rise.”
  • In academia, once you are 35 years old it’s extremely difficult to get hired as a tenure track professor.
  • Prof Lieu notes Faith Ringgold stating that as an artist, you have to “outlast everybody.”
  • It’s common for artists in their teens and 20’s to struggle about what to say.
  • More life experience ensures that you’ll have more to draw from in your artwork.
  • An advantage of being older is knowing better how to use your time efficiently and productively.
  • There is a trend of women receiving accolades once they are 80 years old or more.
  • This is not common with male artists, who are often perceived as geniuses once they are 80 years old or more.
  • We need to hear more about artists who work for decades and continue to persist with their artwork.
  • Achieving resilience and stamina as an artist can be the toughest part.

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