Top results for female artists


Every other Friday Artprice posts an auction ranking to shed more light on the Art Market’s key trends. This week’s fortnightly Top article focuses on the best results in auction history for women artists.

To date, the Top 10 best-ever auction results for women artists have rewarded three works by Georgia O’Keefe, three by Louise Bourgeois, three by Joan Mitchell and one by Jenny Saville, the only living artist in the ranking…. two Americans, one Franco-American and one Brit. Almost all the results were hammered in New York, except for Jenny Saville’s record in London. The ranking also shows the recency of the revaluation of female artists, since the 10 best results for female artists in auction history were all hammered in the last five years, with a very clear acceleration in 2018-2019 (six of the top 10 bids are from the last 18 months). The prices of works by women are therefore undeniably on the ascent, even if the shortfall versus their male counterparts remains enormous

Georgia O’Keefe: Top Female Artist

In 2014, Sotheby’s New York hammered Georgia O’Keefe’s current auction record of $44.4 million. The record – the highest ever for a female artist – gave the American artist 41st place in our 2014 global ranking of artists by auction turnover, with an annual total of $56.9 million. The record has not been beaten since, but her work had a very strong presence on last year’s auction market, generating $56.7 million and giving her 38th place in our 2018 turnover ranking. Unfortunately her works are rare at auction and the Georgia O’Keefe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, holds more than half of her works. An American artist and a veritable legend in her native country, Georgia O’Keefe is almost exclusively collected in the United States

Louise Bourgeois: the most expensive sculptress in the world

Louise Bourgeois’s auction record is the most recent in this ranking. It was hammered at $32 million on 15 May last for an iconic bronze sculpture: a Spider measuring over 7 meters in diameter, the second (2/6) from an edition of six (plus an artist’s proof, a unique variant in bronze and a unique sculpture in steel). The third (3/6) in the edition of this monumental spider generated the artist’s previous record at $28 million. The recent result represents the first ever result for a sculptress above the $30 million threshold. The same day, a Jeff Koons chrome sculpture titled Rabbit (Ed. 2/3 + 1 AP) reached $90 million. The two artists are separated by nearly $50 million

Joan Mitchell: the world’s leading abstract female painter… with a lot of wind in her sails

A second generation abstract expressionist, Joan Mitchell’s work has definitely not reached its price potential. Supported by the David Zwirner Gallery, the official representative of the artist since May 2018, her work is currently on show at the major dealer’s New York gallery until 22 June 2019. The exhibition covers 40 years of her work. But that’s not all…. The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) have announced a major retrospective of Mitchell’s work in 2020 in an exhibition that, the following year, will move to New York’s Guggenheim Museum.

Already at its highest-ever level, demand for Mitchell’s work is therefore bound to grow substantially. The price progression of this major artist has been remarkable: +1,645% since the year 2000

Jenny Saville: Top living artist

Associated with the YBAs in the 1990s, Jenny Saville offers a vision of the body that defies social conventions and a phallo-centric vision of the artist’s model. Her powerful and feminist oeuvre generated a remarkable new record last year at Sotheby’s London when her monumental nude Propped (1992) sold for $12.5 million. The result marked a key moment in auction history: by crossing $10 million threshold – the first time ever for a living female artist – Jenny Saville has become the world’s most expensive living female artist.


Rank Artist Hammer Price ($) Artwork Sale
1 Georgia O’KEEFFE (1887-1986) 44 405 000 Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 2014-11-20 – Sotheby’s, New York
2 Louise BOURGEOIS (1911-2010) 32 055 000 Spider 2019-05-15 – Christie’s, New York
3 Louise BOURGEOIS (1911-2010) 28 165 000 Spider 2015-11-10 – Christie’s, New York
4 Joan MITCHELL (1926-1992) 16 625 000 Blueberry 2018-05-17 – Christie’s, New York
5 Louise BOURGEOIS (1911-2010) 14 679 200 Spider Iv 2017-11-16 – Sotheby’s, New York
6 Joan MITCHELL (1926-1992) 14 037 500 12 Hawks at 3 O’Clock 2018-11-13 – Christie’s, New York
7 Georgia O’KEEFFE (1887-1986) 13 282 500 A Street 2018-11-14 – Sotheby’s, New York
8 Georgia O’KEEFFE (1887-1986) 12 933 000 Lake George Reflection 2016-05-19 – Christie’s, New York
9 Jenny SAVILLE (1970) 12 490 583 Propped 2018-10-05 – Sotheby’s, Londres
10 Joan MITCHELL (1926-1992) 12 192 500 Hans 2019-05-15 – Christie’s, New York
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