The European Fine Art Fair (Tefaf), the not to be missed rendezvous for the collectors of ancient and modern Art as well as design pieces, is under the spotlight. Indeed, some denounce the far too small space given to women within the organization.
The slow paste evolution of women’s access to Tefaf
The Art fair used to host renowned collectors and master pieces from Old Masters claims to be innovative. In any case, that is what its organizers emphasized during the 2018 edition. Art-Trope dealt with the question of the new generation of Art dealers, younger and more likely to use digital tools in their work. However, if we look behind the curtains, the fact remains. Women remain poorly represented within the organization. In three decades, the women headcount went from zero to only two: Marina Kellen French and Heidi McWilliams. Obviously, that is only the mere refection of the Art dealers’ milieu which still remains male dominated.
The Art dealers milieu still dominated by men
The Art Newspaper asked Tefaf Chairman Patrick van Maris about the place women have at the Art fair and within the Art dealers’ milieu. The existing imbalance is “up to the dealer population to sort out. Maybe it’s just a male-dominated business. But let’s hope [for improvement]” answered Patrick van Maris. Nonetheless, he also said: “I think it is very healthy to have more women on the board. But there is a rotation system; it will take time.” Despite such an announcement, the five last board nominations in January only appointed men. Now, there are two women for 22 men.
Women gallerists and Art dealers : a difficult acceptation
Over the last decades, several women gallerists have been working under male gallery names, often using their husbands’ name. In spite of the society’s evolution and the fight for gender equality, there is still a minority of them who sell Old Masters’ Artworks using their own name. One of the Tetaf’s exhibitors confided in the Art Newspaper. She talked about a meeting she had and in which 15 of the attending exhibitors were white men, asking her questions. “Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of the questions came from women” she said. According to her, there is an implicit bias coming from her peers. Indeed, there is a prejudice against women in the way they talk and how they would be perceived by the sector and the public. It remains an obstacle for senior positions. Such a situation has to evolve with its times and it requires efforts from both sides of the Art dealers chessboard.
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