It seems hard to imagine that it has taken this long for the market to view work by first-class women artists as undervalued. But it has. And though a few isolated painters—Goncharova, Mitchell and Kusama—have reached into the mid-seven figures and above, collectors seem to finally be wising up.
Ellen Gamerman and Mary M. Lane report that a Helen Frankenthaler was sold privately by Gagosian Gallery for $3m after a recent show. They add these anecdotal observations:
“Remember ‘plastics’ from ‘The Graduate’? It should be ‘women,’ ” says Tony Podesta, the Washington lobbyist who is one of a handful of collectors aggressively buying work by women artists.
The records are toppling. Nine of the top 10 auction sales of work by women occurred within the last five years. The last two years marked record-high prices at auction for artists including Joan Mitchell, Tamara de Lempicka, Louise Bourgeois, Irma Stern, Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine, Helen Frankenthaler, Rosemarie Trockel and Louise Lawler.
Auction experts and collectors are anxious to see how three Morisot paintings will sell next month during Impressionist and modern sales in New York, two at Sotheby’s and one at Christie’s.
“Whereas before we looked at female artists as the land of opportunity, with prices like these, collectors say the window is closing for gender-specificity bargain buying,” says Gabriela Palmieri, a senior vice president and contemporary-art specialist at Sotheby’s.
Women on the Verge (WSJ)