Is there gender equality in the art world? Do male artists' paintings cost more?

Há igualdade de género no universo da arte? As pinturas dos artistas homens custam mais?

Men's paintings cost 10 times more than a work by a woman artist, but why? Are men 10 times better artists than women? The art market gives the impression that male artists are much better than women. The most expensive painting - Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi - sold for $450 million, while the world record for a female artist, Georgia O'Keeffe, is just $44.4 million, a tenth more.

Leonardo da Vinci | Magazine | P55.ART

Of course, this is an unfair comparison. For most of human history, women were not allowed to practice art as freely as men, so there are inevitably fewer female artists. However, even among living artists, Jeff Koons holds the record, at $91 million, while Jenny Saville's female record is just $12.5 million. Even in contemporary artists the 10:1 disparity still holds. Helen Gorrill, author of Women Can't Paint, studied the prices of 5,000 paintings sold around the world and found that for every £1 a male artist earns for his work, a woman earns just 10 cents. The author said in a BBC Radio 4 documentary: "It's the most shocking difference in gender value I've ever encountered in any industry."

Jenny Saville | magazine | P55.ART

It's shocking to think about, as women made up 70% of art college students, and supposedly, the art world prides itself on liberal and progressive values. However, this salary difference presides. Writer Helen Gorrill found that the value of a man's work increases if it is signed, while the value of a woman's work decreases if it is signed. Are men simply better artists? Oxford finance professor Renée Adams decided to test the idea. He showed participants five paintings by men and five by women and asked them to identify the artist's gender. They got it right 50% of the time – nothing better than the game of heads or tails. This is good evidence that men's art is no different and therefore no better than women's art.It then showed a sample of wealthy men visiting galleries – the classic profile of an art collector – an AI-created painting and randomly assigned the name of a male or female artist. If collectors were told that it was painted by a man, they would say they liked it better than pieces painted by a woman. As Renée Adams declared: “Same artist, same painting”.
How did we get here? Frances Morris, director of Tate Modern, said: “Women artists have fared very poorly because there's been an unconscious collusion between the marketplace, art history and the institutions. Everybody lacks confidence, everybody's looking for confirmation. So there's been a sort of confirmational history, which you could call the canon. And, of course, convention and history were framed by patriarchy.”

O'Keeffe | Magazine | P55.ART

The reality is that the world's best-selling art book aimed at art students everywhere, The Story of Art by EH Gombrich, only mentions one female artist in 688 pages. Where is Artemisia Gentileschi? Or Frida Kahlo? Or O'Keeffe? Museum collections also demonstrate how disproportionate the male and female presence is. When an artist's work is purchased by a museum, the value of their work increases.Meanwhile, some female artists were dumped by their galleries as soon as they announced they were pregnant. They were told that people would no longer take their work seriously and that buying their work would be too risky. The good news is that the world is slowly changing.

Helena Almeida | Magazine | P55.ART

Museums have started to rebalance their collections, with some even selling works by men to buy more art by women. Auction houses are now boosting female artists, and the Venice Biennale weighed heavily for women this year. Collectors are also gaining new insight. While prices for works by female artists are starting at a much lower base, they are currently rising 29% faster than men's. For astute investors who want to pay less and have a higher return, it's the best deal.Also, whether female or male is art. As Bellatrix Hubert, from the David Zwirner gallery in New York highlights: “If I'm looking at the artists we're most interested in right now, it is predominantly women that are making the best art. Or the art that I think is more interesting.”
Do women not know how to paint? Lie. Even the current market already says so.

GUERRILLA GIRLS | Magazine | P55.ART


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