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New report highlights gender inequality in the high-end art world

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Artfinder artist Emma Cownie

A report by online art sales site Artfinder has highlighted the gender inequality of the high end art world. The research study has found that only one of the top 100 lots sold at auction in 2015 was by a woman, and none of the top ten richest living artists are women.

It also found that between 2004 and 2014, only a quarter of solo exhibitions at the Tate Modern were dedicated to female artists, while at MoMA it was only 20%. The gap in value for the highest value items was $135m – $25m for Louise Bourgeois’ Spider compared with $160m for Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger.

The site’s own statistics present a high contrast: 52% of the artists selling on Artfinder are women, and according to the report, collectively sell £1.16m worth of art compared with the £1m of work sold by men.

In reaction to its findings, Artfinder is now initiating a campaign in the run-up to International Women’s Day on 8 March. The company will write to every major art institution in the UK and US asking them to share their data, then publish the results and responses. It is also inviting the public to conduct its own research at local arts institutions and share it on social media.

“Women are still woefully underrepresented in the high-end art world and it’s remarkably overlooked as an issue,” says Artfinder CEO Jonas Almgren. “One of the biggest problems is a lack of reliable data, so that’s where we’re starting.”

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Artfinder artist Sally Fisher