Hikari Yokoyama, the supremely elegant cultural entrepreneur and cofounder of the Paddle8 auction site, has a new gig. As artistic director of New York’s recently opened co-working club Spring Place, she has begun unveiling a program that connects with events about town, such as Fashion Week, the Independent Art Fair(open through Sunday), and the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival—many of them conveniently located at Spring Studios next door.
Next up: a talk this afternoon by painter and national treasure Pat Steir, Russian-born philanthropist Maria Baibakova, and New Museum curator Lauren Cornell. The trio will wrestle with gender inequality in the art world, and how best to tackle it. Forget Wall Street glass ceilings and the scant number of women in high political office, the supposedly free-thinking and creative-minded corridors of art are also shockingly biased, it turns out, both in institutional staffing and what’s hanging on the walls.
“There’s a common misperception that the art world is really balanced because there are so many women working in it,” says Yokoyama. She cites the miserable statistics of female directors of high-budget institutions (less than a quarter, and at a third less pay than their male counterparts), and the controversy about MOMA having until recently had only 2 percent of female artists in the permanent collection. “It’s changed, but it’s still pretty bad,” she says. “I think in museums it’s more apparent because you see the history of gender inequality right in your face.”
For Yokoyama, a Japanese-American raised in Chicago who now lives in London with her power-dealer fiancé, Jay Jopling, it’s a perfect storm of her interests: She is also a trustee of Women for Women International, supporting marginalized women in conflict zones. Her friend Babaikova founded the Artemis Council two years ago. “I envisioned it based on the realization that women artists have not been celebrated or recognized enough by the institutions in the art world,” says Babaikova, whose all-female donor group partners in particular with The New Museum to fund exhibitions by the overlooked sex.
Enter Steir, a painter in her late 70s who is perhaps only now beginning to get the attention she deserves. “She’s been working since the Jackson Pollock days,” observes Yokoyama, “and she also developed a drip technique. Not that you can necessarily compare the two exactly, but it’s been talked about in such a different way in art history—her career and his career.” Steir’s insights are eagerly anticipated. “She can talk about what it means to be a woman artist, and how the art world has changed, through her personal experiences as an artist which is really moving to hear.’
Original post can be found in Vogue.