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MeToo, feminism sparking demand for art by women, data shows

From works by younger newcomers like Jenny Saville to established greats such as Georgia O’Keefe, art by women is in growing demand.

art and culture Updated: May 31, 2018 10:18 IST
MeToo,Barnebys,Pontus Silfverstolpe
Nigerian painter Njideka Akunyili Crosby.(Tate Talks channel on Youtube)

Women artists, long overlooked and under-respected, are the hot item to watch in art sales as the vigor of the #Metoo movement and fresh interest in women’s rights strike the art world, according to findings released on Wednesday.

From works by younger newcomers like Jenny Saville to established greats such as Georgia O’Keefe, art by women is in growing demand, said Barnebys, a leading auction search engine, releasing its 2018 Art Market Report.

The evidence of women’s rising stature in art comes amid renewed global awareness of women’s rights, the #Metoo campaign against sexual harassment and violence, and closer scrutiny of such issues as the dearth of female directors in Hollywood.

Women artists are outnumbered in top collections by male artists, whose works command far higher prices, but that is changing, according to Pontus Silfverstolpe, a founder of Stockholm-based Barnebys.

“When we write about today’s art scene in art historical books in the future, we will see clear imprints of the effects of #Metoo, the struggle for equality and feminism,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The trend is reflecting in both sale prices and online searches, he said.

Barnebys’ report mined data from more than 65 million lots sold at auction by more than 3,000 auction houses globally.

Artists to watch are Nigerian painter Njideka Akunyili Crosby; abstract painter Cecily Brown; American Laura Owens; collage-maker Barbara Kruger; Nathalie Djurberg and Petra Cortrigh who work in video and other media and Saville, who creates arresting female nudes, Silfverstolpe said.

Better known names include O’Keefe; abstract expressionist Joan Mitchell; sculptor and installation artist Cady Noland; abstract painter Agnes Martin and avant-garde artist Yayoi Kusama, he said in a statement accompanying the report.

“Much more focus is now rightly being given to female talent that has either been unsung or overshadowed for political and social reasons in the past,” Silfverstolpe said in the statement.

“Sales online will flourish as buyers try to snap up the best art by women before prices rocket.”

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First Published: May 31, 2018 10:18 IST