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One Infographic That Proves The Art World Is Stunningly Sexist

Want to sell a painting for a lot of money? Make sure it was painted by a man.

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.

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  • guest

    The reason is simple. The other end of the spectrum is sexist. Amateur and up and coming female artists receive far more attention than males. Less quality work of a female is more popular than that of a male. Female artists use sex to sell their work and gain popularity. Quite often I see amateur female artists post pictures of themselves to help sell their work and gain popularity right alongside photos of their pieces on social media sites. Comments that follow: omg your so pretty, beauty and talent etc etc. The main reason men post any comments or like or share poor quality work is because they are attracted to the creator and think that by doing so they establish a relationship with the pretty girl. Women then also use this vicariously. Look at all these men saying nice things about this woman's art. If I say nice things maybe they will like me too. 

    What happens from then on is people will buy this poor quality work and this in turn will not encourage the female amateur artist to improve their work. So when these females approach galleries or seek recognition from established artists they get shot down immediately. This can be categorized as ''The hot girl effect''. 

    They have little to no motivation to improve their art and others simply are not talented enough to. 

  • Chris Davis

    "But this doesn’t explain why there is the same lack of representation in the 20th century."

    I think you may want to reconsider sexism in the 20th century.

  • Cab

    You can't draw that conclusion based on the facts you've presented. You need to examine it in the context the relative number of professional male vs professional female artists

  • Heracles Papatheodorou

    Past and present tense should be used as appropriate.
     Please difine the “Art World”, is it the world of contemporary artists or the media–friendly circles of popular historic painting auctions?