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Since their inception in 1984 the Guerrilla Girls have been working to expose sexual and racial discrimination in the art world, particularly in New York, and in the wider cultural arena. The group’s members protect their identities by wearing gorilla masks in public and by assuming pseudonyms taken from such deceased famous female figures as the writer Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) and the artist Frida Kahlo (1907-54).
They formed in response to the International Survey of Painting and Sculpture held in 1984 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The exhibition included the work of 169 artists, less than 10% of whom were women. Although female artists had played a central role in experimental American art of the 1970s, with the economic boom of the early 1980s in which artwork prices rose steeply, their presence in museum and gallery exhibitions diminished dramatically.
Dubbing themselves the ‘conscience of the art world’, in 1985 the Guerrilla Girls began a poster campaign that targeted museums, dealers, curators, critics and artists who they felt were actively responsible for, or complicit in, the exclusion of women and non-white artists from mainstream exhibitions and publications.
Whitney Chadwick, Guerrilla Girls, Confessions of the Guerrilla Girls, New York 1995
Ashton Cooper (2010). "Guerrilla Girls speak on social injustice, radical art". A&E. Columbia Spectator. Retrieved 20 April 2010.