Bonhams Announces Women Only Section in Upcoming Sale, Highlighting Gender Bias

The auction house is taking a stand on gender bias.

Germaine Richier Le cheval à six têtes (1954-56) Photo: Bonham's London
Germaine Richier Le cheval à six têtes (1954-56) Photo: Bonham's London
Bonhams wants to be at the forefront of gender parity in the art world. Photo: Bonhams, London

Bonhams wants to be at the forefront of gender parity in the art world.
Photo: Bonhams, London

Bonhams, London has dedicated a section of its upcoming Post-War and Contemporary sale on February 11 to female artists in an effort to shed light on the gender imbalance in the visual arts.

According to the auction house only 19 of the top 500 artists sold by value in 2014 were female, and prior to that in 2012 only 6.5% of works consigned to auction were by women. Moreover there is a massive price disparity between male and female artists as only 3% of artworks that sell for over one million dollars are by women.

Germaine Richier Le cheval à six têtes (1954-56) Photo: Bonham's London

Germaine Richier Le Cheval à Six Têtes (1954-56)
Photo: Bonham’s London

“It is a truth now universally acknowledged that women artists, both dead and living, are woefully undervalued,” Rachel Spence wrote in the winter issue of the auctioneers’ in-house Bonham’s Magazine.

In an email to artnet News, Bonham’s spokesperson Melissa Lawford explained: “There will be five works by female artists in the Five Artists, Five Mediums section, dedicated to women artists.” Each of the works will be dedicated to a different medium by a different female artist from around the world.

Carla Accardi Argento turchese (1964) Photo: Bonham's London

Carla Accardi Argento Turchese (1964)
Photo: Bonham’s London

One of the sale’s top lots, Germaine Richier’s Le Cheval à Six Têtes (1954-56) leads the section with an estimate of £200,000 to £300,000 ($285,700 to $428,550).

Ralph Taylor Bonham’s senior director of Post-war and Contemporary Art said: “Richier was one of the first female sculptors in the world to achieve critical acclaim within her lifetime, so it feels fitting that Le Cheval à Six Têtes, one of her most striking works, leads this pioneering section.”

Dadamaino Volume a moduli sfasati (1960) Photo: Bonhams London

Dadamaino Volume a Moduli Sfasati (1960)
Photo: Bonhams London

Also included is Dadamaino’s superimposed punched plastic artwork Volume a Moduli Sfasti (1960) which is expected to change hands for between £35,000 to £45,000 ($49,770 to $63,990).

The sale also features Carla Accardi’s tempera and casein Argento Turchese, which has been estimated at £35,000 to £45,000 ($49,770 to $63,990); and Louise Nevelson’s painted wood Night Sentinel Panel, estimated to sell for £25,000 to £35,000 ($35,550 to $49,770).

Louise Nevelson Night Sentinel Panel (1973) Photo: Bonhams London

Louise Nevelson Night Sentinel Panel (1973)
Photo: Bonhams London

Also up for sale is an early watercolor, ink and crayon on paper drawing by Yayoi Kusama from 1952. The Japanese pop artist is one of the world’s highest priced female artists and remains one of the most influential artists of her generation.

“The works in this selection are connected by their existence in an undervalued area of the market but, more significantly, each has a distinct and fascinating individuality. Bonhams is proud to be at the forefront of this shift in the market,” Taylor said of the sale.

Yayoi Kunama Untitled (1952) Photo: Bonhams London

Yayoi Kunama Untitled (1952)
Photo: Bonhams London

Although there is undeniably a long way to go, the art world is beginning the lengthy process of addressing  the gender bias between male and female artists, with high-profile shows such as the Rubell Family Collection’s all-female No Man’s Land taking action to redress the balance.


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