Top female artists in 2017/2018

Rank Artist Hammer Price ($) Artwork Sale
1 Cecily BROWN (1969) 6 776 200 Suddenly Last Summer 16/05/2018 Sotheby’s New York
2 Cecily BROWN (1969) 3 983 905 The Skin of Our Teeth 26/06/2018 Sotheby’s Londres
3 Marlene DUMAS (1953) 3 615 000 De gele vingers van de kunstenaar [The yellow fingers of the artist] 16/11/2017 Phillips New York
4 Marlene DUMAS (1953) 3 615 000 Magdalena (Underwear and Bedtime Stories) 16/11/2017 Sotheby’s New York
5 Julie MEHRETU (1970) 2 535 000 Untitled 2 17/05/2018 Sotheby’s New York
6 Marlene DUMAS (1953) 2 416 278 The Pilgrim 08/03/2018 Phillips Londres
7 Cady NOLAND (1956) 2 415 000 Tower of Terror 17/05/2018 Phillips New York
8 Cecily BROWN (1969) 2 178 547 The Homecoming 06/03/2018 Christie’s Londres
9 Njideka Akunyili CROSBY (1983) 1 932 500 Mimetic Gestures 18/05/2018 Christie’s New York
10 Cecily BROWN (1969) 1 890 720 Lady with a Little Dog 06/10/2017 Christie’s Londres
copyright © 2018

It’s Top 10 Friday! Every other Friday Artprice posts a theme-based auction ranking. This week we take a look at the Top 10 global auction results for Contemporary female artists since the summer of 2017.

Of course it’s no surprise that men are the main beneficiaries of million-plus auction results. This past year we have again seen an under-representation of women in the high-end art market. Among the top 200 Contemporary Art results recorded over the last 2 months, only 16 works concern women. The top performing female is the British artist Cecily Brown whose superb result of $6.7 million (for her canvas Suddenly Last Summer) took 32nd position in our ranking of best Contemporary Art results since the summer of 2017, men and women combined. The top 31 results all rewarded works by male artists, including Peter Doig, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Takashi Murakami, whose names regularly feature at the top of our rankings.

An exceptional year for Cecily Brown

Cecily Brown has had a truly exceptional year. Her works have never been in such demand with an an unprecedented impact on her auction prices. She alone accounts for half of the top 10 results in this ranking with a new record at $6.7 million, exactly equal to Marlene Dumas’s most recent new record. From a market point of view her latest record is interesting because the Suddenly Last Summer had already been sold at auction twice before. At its first appearance at auction, the painting fetched $662,500 at Phillips de Pury & Company in 2009. In 2010, the same work reached the million-dollar threshold at Sotheby’s. Last May, the same work reached $6.7 million. Supported by powerful market players including Charles Saatchi and Larry Gagosian, this New York-based artist has enjoyed a phenomenal value increase. The Guggenheim, the Whitney, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery in London can congratulate themselves on having acquired works by this phenomenon of Contemporary painting before her prices reached their current threshold…

Three new million-plus results for Marlène Dumas

The second highest ranked female artist is the South African Marlene DUMAS with three million-plus results to her name in the last 12 months (hammered in London and New York). Although she hasn’t renewed her auction record recently (in 2008 her The visitor fetched $6.3 million at Sotheby’s in London), Marlène Dumas has confirmed her status as one of the most sought-after and valued artists on the Contemporary art scene. Since last summer her works have generated no less than $12.3 million, giving her 29th place in our global ranking ahead of an artist as famous (and expensive) as Anish Kapoor. Marlene DUMAS’ market standing is therefore strong with a price index up 560% since the year 2000. In short… $100 invested in 2000 in one of her works is worth an average $660 today.

Julie Mehretu’s drawings at the price of a painting by Richard Prince

The Ethiopian artist Julie MEHRETU is one of the most sought-after signatures by major Western collectors (including François Pinault). Exhibited worldwide, supported by Marian Goodman in New York and White Cube in London, her secondary market prices are high enough that even her coloured drawings sell for million-plus prices… as do her works on canvas.

Her auction record was not renewed this past year; it still dates back to 30 June 2015 when her Looking Back to a Bright New Future fetched $3.5 million at Christie’s in London. Her best result in the last 12 months was generated by one of her drawings at $2.5 million, the year’s 103rd best result, equivalent to the prices that some of Rudolf Stingel’s and Richard Prince’s paintings generate.

This Top 10 contains two other artists: Cady Noland and Njideka Akunyili CROSBY. The market of the former is subject to the vagaries of a very limited offer, since only 56 of her works have been offered for sale in the last 10 years. Her presence in the ranking is based on the sale of a large-format work for $2.4 million last May. As for Njideka Akunyili CROSBY, after a remarkable 2016/2017, the pace of her auction results has slowed considerably this year. But she is still one of the most popular artists on the American market.