Changes in the art market for women artists

Sotheby's is proposing to increase the visibility of women artists in the art market by hosting an online session titled "(Women) artists" from May 20 to 27, 2021. On the other hand, there are those who see this effort to push female artists as "discrimination. An online session to recognize "women's contributions to 400 years of art history" risks reinforcing the gender gap, or worse, reducing the status of women in art history to a mere "contribution.


Thierry Ehrmann, President and Founder of and its Artprice department says "The share of art auction turnover generated by female artists has doubled in 20 years, from 4% to 8% of the global turnover. But it is still far too low compared to the number of major female artists: Artemisia Gentileschi, Frida Kahlo, Cindy Sherman… A sales session dedicated to the female sex deserves, at the very least, a prestige evening sale!" Although women artists make up only 8% of the art market, Artprice believes that a major change is about to take place and has taken this opportunity to highlight four important women artists. 


Frida Kahlo ©︎


The emergence of a constellation of female artists ©︎

Hilma Af Klint (1862-1944) - The pioneer of abstract art

Although Hilma Af Klint's "abstract" works have never been auctioned (partly because all of them belong to the Hilma Af Klint Foundation), she is an artist who foreshadowed the fundamental role of women in important 20th century movements, and many of her works Many of her works have been auctioned with remarkable results.

Yayoi Kusama (1929-) - The market's most successful female artist

Without reaching the heights of Georgia O'Keeffe ($ 44.4 million) or Louise Bourgeois ($32 million), the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is the most successful female artist on the art market thanks to an abundant production that changes hands all over the world. With 617 lots sold at auction in 2020, generating a total of $67 million, Kusama ranked 20th in Artprice's 2020 general ranking of artists by annual turnover (all creative periods combined) ahead of Tamara de Lempicka (who came 33rd).

The very fact that the most successful female artist in history is a living artist presages a fundamental change that is indeed being confirmed in more recent generations.

Jenny Saville (1970-) - The most sought after

With an average of approximately one show every two years (at the Gagosian gallery) and one painting auctioned per year, Jenny Saville's market maintains a form of rarity that perfectly suits her kind of art. Both classical and brutal at the same time, her painting has been compared to that of Rubens or Lucien Freud, but the English artist has created one of the most original œuvres on the contemporary scene. In the past, Jenny Saville was associated with the Young British Artists movement along with Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas and Rachel Whiteread.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby (1983-) - The most promising

Her paintings caused a sensation in auctions held in 2017 and 2018, but then subsequently disappeared from the secondary market. However, the young Nigerian-born artist has never been so popular since then. Named in TIME magazine's 2019 "100 Next" list as one of the most influential personalities on the planet, she has also joined the prestigious David Zwirner Gallery, who has joined forces with Victoria Miro to ensure that Crosby's success isn't derailed by market over-enthusiasm.

Crosby is located at the center of a constellation of female artists under 50 and of African origin who are revolutionizing the portraiture genre, notably by using collage techniques.