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Identifier: MC 1461

Guerrilla Girls Posters


  • 1985-1994

Scope and Content Note

The collection comprises 32 original Guerrilla Girl posters of varying sizes. Most of the posters point out sexism and racism in the art world. However, seven of the posters are politically more generic and reference events like the Gulf War and issues like homelessness.


32 items (5 map folders)

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

No Restrictions.


Begun in 1985, the Guerilla Girls art collective was composed of women artists, queer women artists, and women artists of color who called themselves the conscience of the art world. Their printed posters and their protests used humor to highlight sexism and racism in the art world. Later, their posters' topics would expand to include unrelated political issues. This collection of Guerrilla Girls posters, which includes examples of both subject types, consists of 32 original posters created in the late 1980s and the early 1990s.

Historical Sketch

"By insisting on a world as if women mattered, and also the joy of getting there, the Guerrilla Girls pass the ultimate test: they make us both laugh and fight; both happy and strong." Gloria Steinem (1)
The Guerrilla Girls are an activist group of women artists that has been in existence since 1985. They create and display posters and other ephemera that highlight sexism and racism in the art world. The posters use sarcasm, humor, and statistics to discuss discrimination. They have also created bus ads, stickers, billboards, magazine spreads, and letter-writing campaigns to critics, dealers, collectors, and curators. The Guerrilla Girls call themselves the "Conscience of the Art World." In 1984 the Museum of Modern Art mounted an exhibition, An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture, which greatly underrepresented women artists. Of the 169 artists chosen, all were white and less than 10 percent were women. The Guerrilla Girls formed in response to this exhibition, but were motivated to discuss issues beyond the scope of this one exhibit and one museum. As Whitney Chadwick points out in her essay "Women Who Run With Brushes and Glue," the Guerrilla Girls were formed at a time when feminism was declared dead by journalists and the influence of women's art which dominated the 1970s art world was sliding in comparison to the male dominated return of painting. The goals of the Guerrilla Girls therefore are to point out racism and sexism in the art world while simultaneously highlighting women and women of color artists. In April 1985 the Guerrilla Girls displayed their first posters. These "public service announcements," as the Guerrilla Girls called them, were plastered in SoHo and the East Village in New York City, neighborhoods in which artists lived and exhibited their work. Late at night, the women would paste the posters onto the walls of galleries and construction sites. The first poster was What Do These Artists Have In Common? The second poster was These Galleries Show 10% Women Artists Or None At All. From 1985 until 2017, over 65 unique posters were created. The Guerrilla Girls use anonymity in order to deflect the attention from their own personalities and onto the issues of sexism and racism. They wear gorilla masks at events and refer to themselves with code names. By taking the names of famous women artists in history (Frida Kahlo, Alice Neel, etc.), they are also giving a voice to the voiceless and celebrating those women artists who came before them. The structure of the group is somewhat ambiguous. An invitation is required to be a member and membership seems to vary. When asked how many Guerrilla Girls there were in 1995, Lee Krasner responded "We secretly suspect that all women are born Guerrilla Girls." The collective, because the individuals are anonymous and therefore do not gain individual notoriety, tends to lead via general consensus. Through meetings, topics are introduced and flushed out for projects and posters. In 1987, the Guerrilla Girls were asked to host an exhibition in response to the Whitney Biennial by the Clocktower Gallery. Instead of inviting women artists to exhibit their work, posters, statistics, artifacts, a game, and a large chalkboard for viewers' comments were displayed. The Guerrilla Girls conducted research using the Whitney's publications related to the museum's exhibiting women and women of color. They also discovered information regarding the museum's trustees. In Major Contributors to the Whitney Museum and the Products Their Companies Make, the Guerrilla Girls highlighted how many products were made and marketed for and towards women by companies associated with the museum's trustees. In comparison, from 1982 to 1987 only one woman had a solo show at the Whitney. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the group decided to make more politically generic posters, not aimed at the art world. Issues included: abortion rights, the Gulf War, homelessness, and sexual harassment. They continued to make posters about the art world as well. The 2000s have seen the Guerrilla Girls expand their projects and protests to projections on the Whitney Museum building, letters to collectors and museums, and adding their voice to the Women's March on Washington in 2017 in addition to producing billboards, posters, and stickers. Simultaneously, they have received praise from institutions like the Walker Art Center, the Tate Modern, and Alhóndiga Bilbao which curated the most extensive retrospective to date. The Guerrilla Girls are still active and continue their anonymity.


(1) Gloria Steinem quoted in Guerrilla Girls, Confessions of the Guerrilla Girls, by the Guerrilla Girls (whoever they really are) (New York: Harper Perennial, 1995), page 91.


Selected books and serials written by the Guerrilla Girls

Guerrilla Girls Greatest Hits (Riverdale, Maryland: Pyramid Atlantic, 1993).

Hot Flashes. Vol. 1, no. 1 (1993) - vol. 1, no. 4 (1994)?

Confessions of the Guerrilla Girls (London: Pandora, 1995).

The Guerrilla Girls Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art (New York: Penguin Books, 1998).

Bimbos, Bitches, and Ballbreakers: The Guerrilla Girls' Illustrated Guide to Female Stereotypes (New York: Penguin Books, 2003).

Guerrilla Girls' Art Museum Activity Book (New York: Printed Matter, 2012).

The Hysterical Herstory of Hysteria and How It Was Cured: From Ancient Times Until Now (Paris: Michele Didier, 2016).

Oral History Interviews

Rosalba Carriera and Guerrilla Girl 1, 2007

Alice Neel and Gertrude Stein, 2007

Frida Kahlo and Kathe Kollwitz, 2008

Jane Bowles and Alma Thomas, 2008

Julia de Burgos and Hannah Höch, 2008

Zora Neale Hurston and Agnes Martin, 2008

Elizabeth Vigee Lebrun and Liubov Popova, 2008

Related Collections

The Women's March Collection at Rutgers University houses a Guerrilla Girls poster and sticker President Trump Announces New Commemorative Months.


(1) Gloria Steinem quoted in Guerrilla Girls, Confessions of the Guerrilla Girls, by the Guerrilla Girls (whoever they really are) (New York: Harper Perennial, 1995), page 91.


(1) Gloria Steinem quoted in Guerrilla Girls, Confessions of the Guerrilla Girls, by the Guerrilla Girls (whoever they really are) (New York: Harper Perennial, 1995), page 91.

Processing Note

The titles of the posters were assigned based on the first line of each item.

Dates of the posters are approximate.

The posters were left in the order in which they were received.

All of the posters are mounted (but not adhered) to white paper via plastic or paper corners.

Inventory to the Guerrilla Girls Posters MC 1461
Edited Full Draft
Stephanie Crawford, Fernanda Perrone
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.
Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.