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Crash Course in Art and Reality: Goldrausch Women Artists in Berlin


Half of the art students enrolled at German academies are women. Beyond that, however, the parity between men and women soon ends. Regardless of where you look, whether it's in terms of income, participation in larger exhibitions, the awarding of prizes, or professorship nominations at the academies - women artists are at a scandalous disadvantage to their male colleagues. But this isn't the only reason the Goldrausch women artists' project in Berlin was called to life, as Ulrich Clewing found out..


Carla Ahlander: Untitled, 2000 (Ehrwald)


The initiative is unique in Germany. Ever since 1989, fifteen young Berlin-based women artists have been taking part each year in a very special program to learn about everything else it takes to practice their profession - besides creativity. The Goldrausch Women Artists' Project art IT sees itself as a "course in professionalization" and sets out to combine "practical exercises in promoting one's own artistic work" with seminars on "self-management and other aspects of the professional field."

One might indeed think that this is self-evident for someone seriously planning a career as an artist. Yet these down-to-earth skills aren't taught in the academies; on the contrary, fine arts students are cradled in a misleading sense of security that it's enough to develop their technique, find their own style, and otherwise be themselves as much as possible. This is fine until their education comes to a close; then, the graduates suddenly find themselves left to their own devices, and many of them do not have even the slightest idea what this really entails. The German academies might produce a line of geniuses, but what it takes to survive on the art market isn't even touched upon in school.


Annette Begerow: Untitled, 1989

This realization, sobering as it was in terms of educational policy, was one of the reasons fifteen years ago for founding the Goldrausch project in Berlin. Typically, it wasn't the former art academy, which has since been upgraded to a university, or the Berlin Arts Council that supported the initiative, but the Berlin Council on Economy, Labor, and Women together with the Special European Fund - yet another reason demonstrating the necessity of a project like Goldrausch. The numbers speak for themselves: there are a mere 18 women among 100 names in a ranking such as Art Compass, which is published by the financial magazine Capital each fall and lists the artists highest in demand worldwide according to a complicated point system - and that's a good average compared to former years.

The imbalance becomes even clearer when Capital's "price evaluation" section is examined, with grades ranging from "very affordable" to "very expensive." 11 of 18 women artists are classified here as "very affordable," two as "affordable," and only five women artists attain to the categorizations "priced accordingly," "expensive," or "very expensive."


Anne Berning: Postcard (Trockel), 1997

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