Since their inception in 1984 the Guerrilla Girls have been working to expose sexual and racial discrimination in the art world, particularly in New York, and in the wider cultural arena. The group’s members protect their identities by wearing gorilla masks in public and by assuming pseudonyms taken from such famous dead female figures as the writer Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) and the artist Frida Kahlo (1907-54). All of them act anonymously, to avoid having their activism affect their career and to allow their message to remain in the spotlight.
They formed in response to the International Survey of Painting and Sculpture held in 1984 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The exhibition included the work of 169 artists, only 13 were women. Dubbing themselves the ‘conscience of the art world’, in 1985 the Guerrilla Girls began a poster campaign that targeted museums, dealers, curators, critics and artists who they felt were actively responsible for, or complicit in, the exclusion of women and non-white artists from mainstream exhibitions and publications. They often often humour as a weapon and in ‘Estrogen Bomb’ they depict a literal weapon. The poster ridicules male bellicosity, specifically American foreign policy in Iraq during George W. Bush’s presidency.