Sir: In answer to Clive Exton (letter, 30 September), it is worth pointing out that among the ranks of our recognised top artists women are very much in the minority, so it may not be surprising that none of the Independent's "40 women under 40" is an artist.
A reason for this lack of female artists is suggested by Gloria Moss's article "One man's neat design is a woman's turn-off" (7 August). Apparently, men and women have subtly different aesthetic tastes, and tend unconsciously to prefer works of art by members of their own sex.
If this is true, it explains why the higher echelons of the art world remain in the hands of a self-perpetuating male clique. The "arbiters of taste" - art critics, art gallery proprietors and dealers - are predominantly male, so without being in any way consciously sexist they tend to prefer and promote the works of male artists. As a result, the most famous works of fine art attract mainly male admirers, so the next generation of art critics, etc, are again male ...
Only the occasional Dame Barbara Hepworth manages to challenge the hegemony. The innumerable Dora Carringtons of this world, lacking any serious encouragement, are fated to remain a few rungs further down the ladder.
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