These Women Artists Outrank Georg Baselitz at Auction Despite His Sexist Comments

Baselitz is, to be exact, art history’s 932nd-most-important artist.

German painter Georg Baselitz is back in the news, this time pulling all of his artworks on loan to German museums in protest over a new cultural patrimony law.

As you may recall, the last time Mr. Upside Down made headlines was for his backward remarks about women.

“Women don’t paint very well,”  he has said. “It’s a fact.”

Georg Baselitz. <br>Photo via Independent.co.uk.

Georg Baselitz. Is he the 932nd most important artist of all time?
Photo via Independent.co.uk.

And he knows this, guys, because of statistics.

“The market doesn’t lie,” he has said, pointing out that women’s prices are nowhere near those of men.

That got us to thinking: If the market doesn’t lie, what is the art market saying about Herr Baselitz?

Judging by the artnet Price Database, at this moment, Georg Baselitz’s highest price at auction is $7.45 million, achieved for a 1983 painting called Der Brückechor (The Brücke Chorus), which sold at Christie’s New York in 2014.

Georg Baselitz, Der Brückechor (The Brücke Chorus), 1983. <br>Photo via Saatchi Gallery.

Georg Baselitz, Der Brückechor (The Brücke Chorus), 1983.
Photo via Saatchi Gallery.

However, a lot of paintings have sold at auction for more than that. Like, a lot. If we were to look at the metric of auction records from the database, Baselitz is, to be exact, art history’s 932nd-most-important artist.

We combed through auction records, sorting through results from the New York locations of the two biggest houses (Christie’s and Sotheby’s), and ranked them by price to see who, according to this measure, is more important than Baselitz.

There are the male artists whom we expect Baselitz would be dismayed to see ahead of him. The broadly popular American illustrator Norman Rockwell and the prolific French painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir show up several times, for example. There’s also Hendrick Avercamp. And Giovanni Segantini. And Scipione Pulzone.

Then, perhaps surprisingly to Baselitz, there are several women artists who rate higher than him. Along with their numerical ranking, and the amount their work fetched at auction, the women artists more important than Georg Baselitz, by auction records alone, are, drum roll please:

Georgia O'Keeffe Jimson Weed/Whitte Flower No. 1 sold for $44.4 million at Sotheby's, far above the estimated $10–15 million estimate. Photo: courtesy Sotheby's.

1. Georgia O’Keeffe, #65, Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 (1932), $44.4 million, Sotheby’s New York, 2014

Joan Mitchell, Untitled(1960) sold at Christie's New York for $11,925,000, on May 13, 2014.

Joan Mitchell, Untitled (1960), sold at Christie’s New York for $11,925,000, on May 13, 2014.

2. Joan Mitchell, #522, $11.9 million, Untitled (1960), Christie’s New York, 2014

Louise Bourgeois, Spider (1996), bronze. <br>Photo via Christie's.

Louise Bourgeois, Spider (1996), bronze.
Photo via Christie’s.

3. Louise Bourgeois, #608, $10.7 million, Spider (1996), Christie’s New York, 2011

Cady Noland, Bluewald (1989), screenprint on aluminum with printed cotton flag.

Cady Noland, Bluewald (1989), screenprint on aluminum with printed cotton flag.
Photo via Christie’s.

4. Cady Noland, #681, $9.79 million, Bluewald (1989), Christie’s New York, 2015

Tamara de Lempicka, <i>Le rêve (Rafaëla sur fond vert)</i>, 1927

Tamara de Lempicka, Le rêve (Rafaëla sur fond vert), 1927

5. Tamara de Lempicka, #817, $8.5 million, Le rêve (Rafaëla sur fond vert) (1927), Sotheby’s New York, 2011

So, Herr Baselitz, how does it feel to be outranked by women?

It’s of course true that auction records don’t tell the whole story. For example, the highest price ever paid at auction for an artwork is $179.4 million, for a work by Pablo Picasso, but a painting by Paul Gauguin reportedly sold on the private market for $300 million. But with regard to the story they do tell, perhaps Baselitz is right: the market doesn’t lie.


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