Gender parity and arts prizes: 'Only men are capable of aesthetic greatness'

Helen Gorrill

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


In 2008, the art critic Brian Sewell made the statement ‘There has never been a first-rank woman artist […] Only men are capable of aesthetic greatness’.
This paper examines the gender (in)equalities within visual arts prizes alongside Sewell’s statement, noting which regions have the greatest equalities and inequalities in prizes. The prizes examined range across the world, and include: Abraaj Group Art Prize, Bucksbaum Award, Hugo Boss Prize, Jameel Prize, John Moores Painting Prize, Marcel Du Champ Prize, MENA Art Prize, New Contemporaries, Turner Prize, and Venice Biennale prizes.
The paper argues that arts prizes have an impact on artists’ economic values, demonstrating that the symbolic value attributed to the nomination of an award or prize has converted into or supported the increase of an artist’s economic capital. Concurrently, the sample is also examined to predict to what extent prizes influence upon museum inclusion, in other words, whether one force of symbolic capital impacts upon another.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2018

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