Whilst there is no doubting that there is a marked increase in awareness to improve the balance between male and female art representation and sales, the data found through numerous surveys online still confirms that the art world is not a place of gender equality. It’s trying, but not there yet, not by a long shot.
Headliner statements and figures show that male artists hold the largest market share in global auctions by far, women’s art appears less frequently than men’s in galleries and at auctions, and artwork by female artists still sells for a small proportion of the amounts received for equivalent works by male artists.
Forbes reported that of the $196.6 billion (£166.7 billion) spent at art auctions between 2008 and 2019, only $4 billion (£3.4 billion) was allocated to women which is just 2% of the market.
According to ARTPRO there was an improved percentage share of total women’s art sales between 2012 and 2021, with 3% in 2012 rising to only 6% in 2021. According to more current data female artists are starting to gain more recognition and reward with the number of lots by female artists auctioned worldwide reaching 9,520 in 2021, and the global turnover generated by female artists in 2021 hitting a ten-year high at $975 million (£821 million), up 58% on 2020.
It has been reported that the heads of auction houses Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips are all seeing a significant increase in demand for works created by women.
Just as an example of how men dominate our knowledge of art – When talking about abstract artists, people that don’t work in the art world will still generally recognise names like Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and possibly Vasily Kandinsky (who is widely regarded as a pioneer of abstract art) to name a few. But how many would have heard of important female abstract artists Agnes Martin, Joan Mitchell, Ellsworth Kelly, or Hilma af Klint whose 1906–07 series “Primordial Chaos,” predates Kandinsky’s by up to 5 years and so arguably she should be regarded as the pioneer of this art movement (as suggested by Serpentine Gallery).
It’s interesting to note that in Artprice’s published “Top 500 global artists rankings”, Joan Mitchell (mentioned above) is ranked 35th, putting her ahead of Jackson Pollock (also mentioned above).
Further interesting reading
Forbes – The $192 billion gender gap in art – https://bit.ly/3gorvEU
Artprice.com – Women artists collectively cross the billion-dollar line – https://bit.ly/3tTET6R
ARTnews – Women still lag in market share: Analysis – https://bit.ly/3EAm7Xj
ARTPRO – 100 Most Influential Female Artists You Should Know – https://bit.ly/3i6raai