Out of the 320 most expensive artworks sold in auction between 2008 and 2012, all but one was created by a man. This shocking fact is brought to life in a graphic as part of “The Art Market for Dummies,” an attempt by French freelance data journalist Jean Abbiateci to let non-specialists into the hidden operation of the art market.
“I am not a specialist in the art and I was really shocked when I found out the numbers,” Abbiateci told me by email.
In fact, the 318 most expensive artworks were created by men. It is not until #319 that you get to the one and only work by a woman: Les Fleurs, by the Russian Natalia Goncharova, which sold for $10,870,506 in 2008.
Abbiateci says that part of the reason is a reflection of historical sexism. But this doesn’t explain why there is the same lack of representation in the 20th century. (And the vast majority of these 320 artworks were created during the 20th century.)
“The world of art is amazingly ‘macho,’” says Abbiateci.