Investing in Female Artists Pt. 2 – artmarketblog.com
Judging by the response to my previous post on the lack of recognition given to female artists and the consequent discrepancy in price between female artists and their male counterparts, there are plenty of people who have strong opinions on this subject. Because of the lively debate that my last post encouraged I am going to extend this series of posts beyond what I had originally planned.
Although the status of the work of female artists may seem like a simple case of discrimination, in reality, the problem is much more complicated. Before I begin looking at the more complex issues behind the problems facing female artists, I thought it would be interesting to look at some facts and statistics so that the discrepancies can be put into perspective. In November 2007, the New York Magazine did some calculations and published some rather revealing figures relating to the number of female artists represented at several major art institutions. At the time, only 15% of the artists whose work was on show as part of the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art were female. The 2007 Venice Biennale could only manage a 76% male/24 % female split while Art Basel Miami Beach managed slightly better with a 73% male/27% female split. Worst of all was the Frick Collection which had a collection that was a mere 1% female artists.
The prices paid for works by female artists compared to the prices paid for works by male artists tell pretty much the same story as the above figures for the number of women represented at major art institutions. Compared with the $104 million paid for Picasso’s ‘Garçon à la pipe’, the highest price paid for a work of art at auction, the $10,870,506 auction record for a work by a female artist, which is held by Natalia Goncharova’s ‘Les Fleurs’, is tiny. The most expensive living artist at auction is once again a male with Lucien Freud’s infamous ‘Big Sue’ taking the honours with a $33.6m price tag. Comparatively, the most expensive living female artist is Marlene Dumas whose painting ‘The Visitor’ sold for 6.4 million at Christie’s in September 2008 – more than five times less than the record for the most expensive work by a male artist at auction.
Hopefully these statistics put the issue of the discrepancies between male and female artists into perspective. To be continued………..
**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.