Top 10: Women Power!


Every fortnight Artprice posts a theme-based auction ranking. This week, the focus is on women artists. The ten best auction results in 2010 for works by Contemporary female artists.

In 21 months, the exhibition elles@centrepompidou has received 2 million visitors (27 May 2009 – 21 February 2011). Mona HATOUM, who has just won this year’s Joan Miro International Prize for Contemporary art, was among the artists exhibited. So exactly who are the top female artists within the auction sphere?

Top 10: best auction results in 2010 for works by Contemporary female artists

Rank Artist Hammer Price Artwork Sale
1 Cindy SHERMAN $2 400 000 Untitled #153 (1985) 11/08/10 (Phillips de Pury NY)
2 Julie MEHRETU $2 000 000 The Seven Acts of Mercy (2004) 11/09/10 (Sotheby’s NY)
3 Bharti KHER $1 280 610 The Skin speaks a Language not its own 06/28/10 (Sotheby’s London)
4 Cindy SHERMAN $1 200 000 Untitled #420 (2004) 11/08/10 (Phillips de Pury NY)
5 Cindy SHERMAN $1 200 000 Untitled (#88) (1981) 11/10/10 (Christie’s NY)
6 Marlene DUMAS $900 000 Stella (2000) 05/11/10 (Christie’s NY)
7 Cecily BROWN $900 000 Suddenly Last Summer (1999) 05/12/10 (Sotheby’s NY)
8 Cecilia EDEFALK $853 730 Baby (1986-1987) 11/17/10 (Bukowskis Stockholm)
9 Julie MEHRETU $850 000 Untitled 1 (2001) 09/25/10 (Sotheby’s NY)
10 Beatriz MILHAZES $678 195 Moreno (2005) 06/30/10 (Christie’s London)


Cindy Sherman
With three 7-figure auction results in 2010, Cindy SHERMAN has returned to the forefront of the artistic limelight. In fact, at the Carte Blanche for Phillippe Ségalot sale organised by Phillips de Pury on 8 November 2010, her diptych Untitled #420 sold for $1.2m and her Untitled #153 fetched $2.4m (her new record). Two days later her chromogenic print, Untitled (#88), went under the hammer for $1.2m at Christie’s, New York.
On the back of this success, the price index of this American artist has risen 90% since the beginning of 2010 and she is now the world’s second most expensive Contemporary female artist. The most expensive is the South African artist Marlene DUMAS.

Contemporary African art
With her first million-plus result in November 2004 (she was the first contemporary woman artist to cross that threshold), Marlène Dumas’ price index has acquired quite another dimension. Since then, her work has generated 10 million-plus results. With Stella, which fetched $900,000 at Christie’s New York (her best result in 2010), Marlène Dumas takes sixth place in our 2010 ranking.
The year was highly fruitful for the Ethiopian artist Julie MEHRETU, who generated three new personal records including one for The Seven Acts of Mercy that fetched $2m at Sotheby’s New York, giving her second place in our Top 10. Her Untitled 1 which sold for $850,000 at Sotheby’s New York also gives her ninth place. The New York Guggenheim honoured her work with a solo exhibition in 2010 entitled Grey Area (14 may 2010 – 6 October 2010).

Bharti Kher
In 2010, Bharti KHER posted a new record when her sculpture The Skin speaks a Language not its own fetched $1.2m at Sotheby’s in London.
This single auction sale gave Kher ninth place in the ranking of artists’ auction revenue from Contemporary sculpture (July 2009 – June 2010) ahead of her husband, the artist Subodh GUPTA.Kher now has an international career and her work will be included in the major exhibition Paris Delhi Bombay that will open on 25 May 2011at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

European Contemporary art
The British artist Cecily BROWN is in seventh position with Suddenly Last Summer which fetched $900,000 at Sotheby’s New York versus a high estimate of $700,000. The same work sold for $550,000 in May 2009 (est. $600,000 – $800,000).
The Swedish artist Cecilia EDEFALK is just behind Charles Saatchi’s protégé with her new record signed this year for an oil on canvas entitled Baby that fetched the equivalent of $853,730 at Bukowskis in Stockholm. Much appreciated in her country of origin where all her sales are generated, Edefalk is the highest-valued female Swedish artist on the market. She has managed to seduce the prestigious New York gallery Barbara Gladstone who also sells works by Matthew BARNEY, Alighiero BOETTIAnish KAPOOR.

Beatriz Milhazes
In tenth place, an acrylic painting entitled Moreno by the Brazilian artist Beatriz MILHAZES which fetched £450,000 ($678,195) at Christie’s in London on 30 June 2010. With three results in 2010 above the $300,000 line and a number of works presented in collections of major New York art museums (the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art), Beatriz Milhazes is definitely a rising star.

Often treated as muses or simply ignored, women artists only really managed to penetrate art history during the 20th century. Today they form an integral part of major exhibitions and major public sales.
Nevertheless, on a same period and same notoriety basis, any comparison between male and female artists clearly shows a massive gap between the prices fetched by male and female artists. Take for example the prices of work by Louise BOURGEOIS and Alberto GIACOMETTI