Wednesday, June 06, 2012

It’s a guy thing

A couple of weeks ago Art + Object released some more sales stats, this time showing how the top end of the art market went at auction last year. They show that while women may have made some inroads into representation in the public art museums (even though the scale of the men’s art often skews the more positive statistics) they are still nowhere in the market.

Here are the six top sales that achieved auction records for the artist at auction last year. 

Edwin Harris $84,375 
Michael Parekowhai $78,750 
Peter Stichbury $56,250 
Julian Dashper $42,750 
Liz Maw $29,900 
Geoff Thornley $28,750 

Only one woman is represented with a meagre 6.2% of the total value of this slice of the market topped by the old timer Edwin Harris. 

Is this just a New Zealand phenomenon? (#rhetorical). If you look at the ten highest prices overall for last year it’s a similar story with only one woman included: Evelyn Page who accounted for 7.6% of the total. Among the top ten most expensive post-war artists internationally there are no women. Bottom spot 10 is taken by Jeff Koons’s Balloon Flower for $33.9 million but even this is well over double the highest price paid for a female artist. That would be Louise Bourgeois’ Spider which was knocked down for $14.2 million. 

In fact, the entire value of all ten of the top-selling female works coming in at $78.8 million is just 10.6% of the value of the top ten men. There’s a ways to go. 

You can see the highest prices paid for NZ art here, the best artist prices paid here and the world info here.
Comment by Damian Balle: The figures listed on the Australian Art Sales Digest website aren't completely accurate; in their sale of the David and Angela Wright collection in June of last year, Art and Object set a new artist record for the sale of Judy Millar's work - $42,210 (hammer price: $36,000, lot 14). Art and Object posted on their blog re. the result at the time. So the situation is slightly less grim.