Artprice: 5 Female Artists who closed the gender gap in 2018

Home » Artprice: 5 Female Artists who closed the gender gap in 2018

Although women account for half of the world’s population (and therefore half of the world’s intelligence, sensitivity and inspiration… ), they are still substantially under-represented on the global Art Market.   Looking back, women did not become a regular part of art history’s narrative until the end of the 19th century.  However, today’s secondary art market is still largely dominated by men.

Artprice released a list of the top 20 female artists, so what better excuse is needed to explore a virtual exhibit of art from the Top 5.


1. Yayoi Kusama (1929- ) – Auction turnover: $102,532,176

The top selling female artist in the global Art Market – all periods of creation combined – is none other than an 89-year-old Japanese woman who has spent 40 years living in a psychiatric hospital. A key figure in 20th-century art with her obsessive creative practices, Yayoi Kusama’s work is in many respects close to Art Brut.  Moreover, this is the fourth consecutive year in which Kusama has generated the highest annual auction turnover for a female artist in the world. In 2018, twenty-one of her works fetched sums above the million-dollar threshold worldwide: fifteen in Hong Kong, three in New York, two in London and one in Seoul.

2. Joan Mitchell (1926-1992)  – Auction turnover: $83,925,120

Joan Mitchell Abstract Expression
Abstract Expressionists Stamp Collection, Photo Credit: Neftail

On 1 May 2018 the David Zwirner Gallery announced publicly that it now has exclusive representation rights with the Joan Mitchell Foundation.

A first solo exhibition of the artist is scheduled in New York in 2019, but the Market has already reacted very positively.

On 17 May 2018, her Blueberry (1969) buried its estimate of $5-7 million when it fetched $16.6 million at Christie’s in New York, setting a new auction record for the American artist.


3. Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) – Auction turnover: $66,666,700

Georgia O Keefe Ranch House
Ranch House at Ghost Ranch. Photo Credit James Orndorf

A painter and pioneer of American modernism best known for her canvases depicting flowers, skyscrapers, animal skulls and southeastern landscapes.

4. Cecily Brown (1969- ) – Auction turnover: $32,480,908

The Last Shipwreck, Cecily Brown
The Last Shipwreck

Following a remarkable performance in 2017, the English artist Cecily Brown emerged as one of the major figures of the Contemporary Art Market in 2018. On 16 May, her painting Suddenly Last Summer (1999) fetched $6,776,200 at Sotheby’s New York, setting an impressive new record.

The canvas, originally acquired from the Gagosian in 2000, was sold in May 2010 for $1,082,500, at Sotheby’s New York. Since then its value has multiplied by six in just eight years.

5. Louise Bourgeois – Auction turnover: $24,616,761

Storm at Saint Honore

According to Artprice’s Founder and CEO, Thierry Ehrmann, “the generation now imposing itself on the secondary market – that of artists under 40 – is fortunately closing the gender gap”.   In 2018, the Top 5 artists (by auction turnover) born after 1978 included three women.   This highly symbolic transformation of the market is being accompanied by an increasing recognition of major female signatures who are gradually being admitted into the Pantheon of the high-end Art Market, with big-number results in auction rooms.

Artprice is the global leader in pricing and indexing databanks in the art with over 30 million indices and auction results covering more than 700,000 artists.   Their image division gives unlimited access to the largest Art Market resource in the world with a library of 126 million images or prints of artworks from the year 1700 to the present day,.  The premiere source of information is gathered through their network of 6,300 auctioneers and it publishes a constant flow of art market trends for the world’s principal news agencies and approximately 7,200 international press publications.    For its 4,500,000 members, Artprice gives access to the world’s leading Standardised Marketplace for buying and selling art.  

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