Short Take: Museum of the Apes

Among the many things I collect is Georgian sterling silver, and one of my favorite silversmiths is a woman named Hester Bateman (1708-1794). It’s not that she was a female silversmith, but that she was an exceptional silversmith who happened to be a woman. While this may, to some, be more craft than art, it’s art to me. Your mileage may vary.

Freshly polished Hester Bateman wine funnel (1776).

But what Bateman was not is a gorilla. Rather than protest her way to glory, she created beautiful objects, and hundreds of years later, she remains recognized for her work. The Gorilla Girls are taking a different path.

If some billionaire (ugh, amirite?) wants to open a museum to house his art collection, which consists of art created by men (ugh, amirite?), is this a bad thing? Apparently so, and worthy of protest by women in gorilla masks because who doesn’t take women in gorilla masks seriously?

How I was unaware of this protest until now is a mystery, but two things strike me now that I’ve watched their video. First, if they feel frozen out of museums because they’re sexist, why not become a billionaire, buy art based on the gender of the artist, put it into a museum and sell tickets? If Mr. Ludwig can start his own museum, why not Ms. Ludwig?

The second is that the visuals of women in gorilla masks, talking in non-sequiturs about the gender of artists and the gender of naked women in paintings (because artists choose not to paint enough naked men, amirite?) is missing one fairly significant piece. If they are producing great art, why not show it? Why not win the hearts and minds of the art-viewing world by showing their art rather than talking about their misery in gorilla masks?

Or maybe I just don’t get art. That could be.

21 thoughts on “Short Take: Museum of the Apes


    Don’t these women realize that an artist usually has to be a century dead before their art is appreciated?

  2. Thrown_out_of_the_Kremlin_for_Singing

    “Cornelius, as an intellectual, you know damned well, the gorillas are a bunch of militaristic nincompoops!” –Zira, Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971).

    (On the subject, test your Planet of the Apes-IQ with this TRIVIA QUESTION: more than six decades before Pierre Boulle wrote the novel La Planète des Singes, on which the movie PotA (1968) was based, another author wrote a book which included a chapter which told almost exactly the same story. The chapter was entitled “THE TWELFTH SURPRISE: The Land of the Civilized Monkeys”. Can you identify the author? HINT: he also wrote another book which was made into a movie which you have CERTAINLY seen, quite likely the most widely-shown movie in the entire history of cinema…….)

  3. Thrown_out_of_the_Kremlin_for_Singing

    You collect old silver? Do you know PG Wodehouse’s novel The Code of the Woosters? If not, read it immediately. The plot revolves around a silver cow-creamer.

    1. SHG Post author

      Just so we’re clear, collecting it and reading a book that involves it is not remotely the same thing.

      1. Fubar

        My collection, unwritten great books,
        Is hidden in crannies and nooks.
        When I’m feeling the need,
        I take one out to read.¹
        And then I collect funny looks!

        FN 1: My favorite is Disoriented: The Tragic Consequence of Cruising the Möbius Strip on a Spherical Cow..

  4. losingtrader

    The people in this video need to be on display at MONA in Hobart, Tasmania, right between the “art” poop generating machine and the library of 6000 books with completely blank pages.

  5. Casual Lurker

    “The Gorilla Girls are taking a different path.

    It seems they spell it “Guerrilla”, as in “Urban Guerrilla”. In spite of the masks, spelling it as you do, one could infer an intended pejorative slight! Expect them to protest outside of SJ World Headquarters, you chauvinist pig!

    The propaganda description of the GGs (on the non-embedded Youtube page), had to be written by a PR hack with brown eyes, because they’re so full of shit it’s up past their neck line!

    Besides, calling what they do “Guerrilla Art” is a tough sell when you have major corporate sponsorship, as they do. I think I’ll pass on the faux stuff. If I want to see art performed by women in masks, I prefer the balaclava, worn by those willing to spend some time in Putin’s slammer:

    Unfortunately, they seem well on their way to becoming something like the GGs, having learned English and lost the punk production values. Just a guess, but it has something to do with currency conversion from dollars to Rubles.

    1. SHG Post author

      Odd that no one’s raised that point. Beats me, but then I’m not on the committee to decide what’s racist, so what would I know?

  6. Ayoy

    Maybe the Guerrilla Girls were radical thinkers back in the 80s? In the UK contemporary art scene at least, gender/cultural disparity isn’t such an issue now (imho). £650m of funding comes from central government, so they have a big say over who makes what. The arts/literature establishment shortlist with diversity in mind, which in turn keeps the corporate sponsors happy. The back catalog is more of a problem, but that’s being dealt with. The silver is art, just like the e30 BMW!

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