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Women in Art

The Women’s Day is not just a celebration to give mimosas, but it is also an opportunity to reflect on the status of women, on the rights they have won and on the goals yet to be achieved.

Recently the #MeToo movement, started in America in October 2017, has helped to stir up consciences and then spread to reach worldwide importance, leading to a wave of reports of violence and harassment suffered by women.

The movement was recognized as being so important that it was included in the third place in the ArtReview 2018 Power List, ranking on the most influential personalities of the art world drawn up each year by the authoritative British magazine, famous for indicating and anticipating new trends.

Also Frieze London, on the occasion of the 2018 edition, came forward to the recognition of the female world by introducing “Social Works”, a section dedicated to eight female artists active between the 80s and 90s who tried to challenge the art market and that stood out in the feminist movement for a strong political and social commitment. The aim was to reduce the male dominance in the art world and shed light on the marginal role that women play in terms of visibility and market.

A leading figure in the feminist movement of the 1970s is Judy Chicago (Chicago 1939), an American artist who has always fought for a recognition of the role of women in art and is considered among the most influential personalities of the debate.

She was echoed by Nancy Spero (1926-2009), a great supporter of the emancipation of women, a pioneer of feminist art and very active also against wars, injustices and abuses of all kinds.

Chiara Fumai (1978-2017), an Italian artist who prematurely passed away and who has always placed a reflection on the role of women at the centre of her intense performances, also denounced male chauvinism. Milovan Farronato chose her to represent Italy at the next Venice Biennale with Liliana Moro (1961) and Enrico David (1966).

About 79 invited artists will be presented at the festival in the lagoon, also Ludovica Carbotta, an Italian who lives and works in Barcelona, ​​and Lara Favaretto.

The Rabat Biennial (Morocco), which will take place in April, will present an all-female edition, exhibiting 60 female artists from different parts of the world. Even more interesting choice since the Biennale takes place in a Muslim country, traditionally not very open to the emancipation of women. The event curated by Abdelkader Damani will be held at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Mohammed VI, but will also see the involvement of other exhibition spaces in the city.

Body Art and Performance have been the favourite expressive means of many artists especially for the immediacy and the emotional impact that they have the power to arouse in the public. In addition to the aforementioned Chiara Fumai, also Gina Pane, Vanessa Beecroft, Marina Abramović, Ana Mendieta are united by having put the body at the centre of their research.

Also Cindy Sherman (1954), an artist currently among the most quoted, uses her body as an expressive medium, but prefers photography. Sherman creates conceptual self-portraits in which she reflects on today’s society’s obsessions and denounces the female stereotypes that are imposed by cinema, television and glossy magazines.

In addition to the serious problem of the commodification of the female body, it seems that women do not receive due recognition not only in the intellectual but also in the economic sphere. According to a recent study, it seems that even in the art world women earn less than men, with a difference in auction prices for paintings created by men or women.

A disparity of treatment we hope will go away also thanks to initiatives such as the Max Mara Art Prize for Women, a biennial prize created in 2007 by Iwona Blazwick (director of the Whitechapel Gallery) and composed of an all-female jury that supports women artists in the UK.

The winner of the last edition is Helen Cammock, an English-Jamaican multidisciplinary artist who uses different mediums like photography, performance, poetry and music and has always been committed against prejudices such as being black and being a woman.

Another prestigious award given to contemporary British artists, the Turner Prize, was awarded in 2018 to Charlotte Prodger (1974), a video artist who proposed a reflection on the landscape and gender identity.

Like them, many other artists have had the skill and tenacity to fight and stand out to be able to emerge in a male world.

One example is Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986), who holds the world record for the work of an absolute dearest female artist with the painting “Jimson Weed/White Flower No.1” sold for over $ 44 million. during a Sotheby’s auction in 2014.

Follows Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010), who with the monumental sculpture “Spider” has reached 28 million dollars in 2015 also from Sotheby’s in New York.

In the field of sculpture, Camille Claudel (1864-1943) and Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975) distinguished themselves, two great artists who had to face many difficulties linked to that historical period in order to express their creativity and innovation.

Hepworth, friend of Henry Moore and wife of Ben Nicholson (also an artist), avant-garde pioneer, has embraced the use of direct carving, a sculptural technique introduced by Brancusi that does not include the use of the terracotta model. Mother of three twins in a historical period that certainly did not facilitate the rise of a woman, Barbara Hepworth was nevertheless able to establish herself in the world of art.

But which are the most popular artists? In addition to those already mentioned, the abstract expressionist Joan Mitchell, Agnes Martin, Sonia Delaunay, Tamara de Lempicka, Carla Accardi, Niki de Saint Phalle and Frida Kahlo, among others, are experiencing great media attention, and recently, in the first months of 2018, also the Mudec of Milan dedicated a large retrospective to them.

Recently Maria Lai (1919-2013), a Sardinian artist known especially for her “embroideries”, who during her artistic career has used various media such as weaving, embroidery, drawing and sculpture, is experiencing strong and renewed interest. Her work “Bed Sheet” of 1989 was a new record for the artist during the Christie’s auction “Thinking Italian” on 4 October 2018, reaching £ 150,000 (including interest) from a starting estimate of £ 20,000-30,000.

Turning to the living artists, it is Jenny Saville (Cambridge 1970), the brightest star, who is proclaimed as the most expensive woman artist in the world thanks to the work “Propped” sold for more than 9 million pounds at the Sotheby’s auction in London on 5 October 2018. The painting is particularly significant because, besides being a self-portrait of the artist herself, she overturns and challenges the aesthetic canons that impose a vision of the idealized and flawless woman’s body.

Yayoi Kusama, known for the Polka Dots that characterize her works, also had to fight against sexism. She is a highly rated artist, and a documentary film is now on screens about her unconventional life – since 1977 she has been living and working in a psychiatric hospital in Japan for her choice. The artist herself is speaking about the difficulties to succeed in establishing herself in a male-dominated world such as that of the American art in the 1950s when she moved from Japan to New York.

Many women artists are also socially committed to fighting important battles to improve the living conditions of the less fortunate.

Kara Walker (1969), an African American artist who has always been linked to the fight against racism, explores issues related to violence, sexuality and slavery suffered by the coloured people over the centuries. She uses different media, ranging from the collage technique to installations or drawings, all united by the representation of black silhouettes on a white background. Starting in October, the Tate Modern in London will host the works of Walker that will take the baton of Tania Bruguera for the fifth edition of the Hyundai Commission.

Cady Noland (1956) is instead engaged in a critical analysis of the most immoral aspects of American society, such as the morbid curiosity towards brutal crimes or the exaggerated exaltation of male virility.

Other contemporary “stars” are Jenny Holzer, Tracey Emin, Bridget Riley (one of the greatest exponents of Op Art) and Julie Mehretu, whose large canvases are inspired by the densely populated cities typical of our time.

The London artist Cecily Brown (1969), always poised between abstraction and figuration, obtained yesterday (7 March) a great result at Phillips’s Evening Sale London with “Armed and Fearless”, the work of 2014, reaching the quote of £ 1,755,000 including the premium from the estimate of 600,000-800,000, also reaping applause in the sales room.

The list of deserving female artists is – fortunately – very long and it would be impossible to name them all, we can only hope that the day arrives when it will no longer be necessary to make any kind of clarification because we will be – really – all the same.


“The shades of the art rainbow are endless: choose your favorite!”

London Auctions October 2018

The London autumn art week has ended, including Frieze, collateral fairs, many appointments and contemporary art auctions.



4-5 OCTOBER 2018

AUCTION of at 4 OCTOBER EVENING. Total sales: £ 84,610,000 including premium.

AUCTION at 5 OCTOBER DAY. Total sales: £ 20,844,000 including premium.

For this auction session, Christie has fielded several lots of the highest quality. The highest expectation is the “Figure in Movement” canvas dated 1972 by Francis Bacon, on the cover of the catalogue, which from an estimate of £ 15,000,000-20,000,000 was sold for £ 19,921,250 including premium. The work came from the private collection of Magnus Konow and portrays George Dyer, Bacon’s muse and lover who died of an overdose shortly after the creation of this canvas that had always remained in the Konow’s collection.

Francis Bacon, Figure in Movement, 1972

Oil and dry transfer writing on canvas

198 x 148 cm


Jean Dubuffet also performed well with “Lady in Garden”, oil and collage on canvas from 1956, which from an estimate of £ 2,500,000-3,500,000 was sold at £ 4,508,000 including interest.

Jean Dubuffet, Lady in Garden, 1956

Oil and collage on canvas

148 x 120 cm


Also good for Keith Haring’s great work “Untitled” of 1984, given an estimate of £ 3,000,000-5,000,000, it was sold at £ 3,946,250 including interest.

Keith Haring, Untitled, 1984

Acrylic on canvas, work in 4 parts

Total dimensions: 304.8 x 304.8 cm


Record for “Bull with Hole”, oil and resin on canvas of 1986 by Albert Oehlen, estimated £ 800,000-1,200,000 reached the amount of £ 3,608,750 thus exceeding the record of 2.9 million reached in 2017.

Albert Oehlen, Bull with Hole, 1986

Oil and resin on canvas, Diptych

Single canvas size: 187.6 x 188.3 cm

Total dimensions: 187.6 x 376.6 cm


Hurvin Anderson who with the oil on canvas of the 2003 “Country Club” adventured on £ 2,048,750 including interest, from an estimate of 1,000,000-1,500,000 £.

Hurvin Anderson, Country Club, 2003

Oil painting on canvas

162 x 265 cm


At the Lot 49 we find another work by Francis Bacon, “Painted Screen “, three panels joined by iron hinges of 1929 estimated at £ 700,000-1,000,000, which doubled and exceeded the highest estimate reaching £ 2,408,000 including interest.

Francis Bacon, Painted Screen, about 1929

Oil on plywood with metal hinges

Each panel: 183 x 61 x 2.8 cm

Total dimensions: 183 x 183 x 2.8 cm


Very good for the Turin artist Aldo Mondino, who on the occasion of his 70th birth anniversary marks the new record during the First World War and contemporary art auction with “Tappeti Stesi” (Carpets), the work of 1989, sold for £ 68,750 including interest. The starting estimate was £ 30,000-50,000 (Lot 343).

The Tappeti Stesi are wall compositions that entered Eraclite between the 80s and 90s and include one of the most famous cycles among those unleashed by the artist, fascinated by Middle Eastern culture.

Aldo Mondino, Tappeti Stesi, 1989

Acrylic on compressed chipboard, Diptych

Overall dimensions: 250 x 200 cm


Disappointment instead for “Skull”, oil on canvas of 1983 by Gerhard Richter published on the second cover, which remained unsold for 11.5 million pounds (estimate on request).

Same fate also for Jeff Koons’ “Cracked egg (blue)”, unsold 8.5 million pounds: it started from an estimate of 10,000,000-15,000,000 pounds.

Gerhard Richter, Skull, 1983

Oil painting on canvas

80.4 x 65 cm


Jeff Koons, Cracked Egg (blue), 1994-2006

One of the unique works of a series of 5

Mirror polished steel with transparent coating

165.1 x 159.1 x 159.1 cm

100 x 159.1 x 159.1 cm


Even “Still life with Zimmerlinde”, an unusual subject by Lucian Freud, remains unsold at £ 750,000 being above the maximum rating of £ 600,000.

Lucian Freud, Still life with Zimmerlinde, about 1950

Oil painting on canvas

25 x 21.5 cm


Withdrawal from the auction for Georg Baselitz’s 11 oils on canvas, estimated between 6 and 10 million pounds.



OCTOBER 4, 2018

Total sales: £ 40,408,000 including premium.

Thinking of Christie’s Italian, the first edition represents the evolution of Italian sales, a format that for the first time in 20 years has not been renewed by Sotheby’s, which has chosen to include art in art. October 5 and 6.

The evening with Christie, also packed with Italian collectors and operators, continued with a catalogue of the highest level made up of 37 important works ranging from Futurism to Arte Povera: many and predictable relaunched during the auction.

Learn more about the price achieved by the rare work “Space concept, The end of God” of 1963 which, starting at £ 12.5 million, was sold to an anonymous telephone collector for £ 17,108,750 including interest. The estimate was on demand, around £ 17 million. With this release “Spatial concept, The end of God” has become the second best-selling work at auction by Lucio Fontana.

The work had already gone up for auction in 2013 from Christie’s in New York and had reached £ 13 million on that occasion.

Lucio Fontana, Spatial Concept, The end of God, 1963

Oil and glitter on canvas

178 x 123 cm

“Spatial Concept” of 1953, a delicate and beautiful composition in oil and glass on canvas on the cover of the catalogue, reaches £ 1,832,750, interest included from a starting estimate of £ 1,600,000-2,500,000.

Lucio Fontana, Spatial Concept, 1953

Oil and glass on canvas

60 x 73 cm


The second work by price made is a “Achrome” by Manzoni from 1957-58 which was included in the Contemporary Art section and which was then moved to “Think Italian” (Lot 119A). The canvas made £ 3,608,750 including interest from an estimate of £ 3,000,000-5,000,000.

Piero Manzoni, Achrome, 1957-58

Kaolin on canvas

61 x 81 cm


Another Manzoni’s “Achrome” dated 1958-59 (Lot 118) touched the amount of £ 1,928,750 interest included from an estimate of £ 1,000,000-1,500,000.

Piero Manzoni, Achrome, 1958-59

Kaolin on canvas

60 x 80 cm


The other protagonists of this part of the evening were the Italian artists who imposed attention by setting some records.


Salvatore Scarpitta realized for £ 1,808,750 interest included with the work of 1960 from the Leo Castelli’s gallery “Alta Sposa”, starting estimate £ 1,000,000-1,500,000.

Salvatore Scarpitta, High Bride, 1960

Bandages on mixed supports on canvas

152.5 x 102 cm


Maria Lai’s work “Sheet” of 1989 from an estimate of £ 20,000-30,000 flied to £ 150,000 including interest, far exceeding the previous record of € 32,000 in 2015.

Maria Lai, Sheet, 1989

Thread and fabric embroidered on fabric

141.7 x 230 cm


Alberto Savinio also flied high with “Croix marine”, oil on canvas from 1929 estimated at £ 600,000-800,000 and sold for £ 692,000 including premium.

Alberto Savinio, Croix Marine, 1929

Oil painting on canvas

73 x 92 cm


“Great mutilation”, sculpture more than two meters high dated 1962 by Leoncillo, reached £ 728,750 including interest (estimate £ 350,000-500,000) and thus exceeded the € 283,000 record of the Christie’s auction in Milan in April 2018.

Leoncillo, Great mutilation, 1962

Stoneware and glaze

218 x 39 x 39 cm


Alberto Burri with “Sacco Nero Rosso” of 1957 reached £ 980,750 including interest from an estimate of £ 450,000-600,000.

Alberto Burri, Sacco Nero Rosso, 1957

Sackcloth, acrylic, plastic burning and vinavil on fabric

38 x 46 cm


Another nice surprise was Carol Rama, who with “Untitled”, a work of 1977, managed to double the estimate of £ 60,000-80,000 to reach £ 175,000 including interest.

Carol Rama, untitled, 1977

Tissue paper, tire, pastel, tempera, cotton thread and metal hook on soft top canvas

130.5 x 75 cm


Gino Severini with “Portrait de l’auteur” of 1916, displayed the £ 908,000 interest included from the estimate of £ 700,000-1,000,000.

Gino Severini, Portrait de l’auteur, 1916

Oil painting on canvas

100.3 x 74.3 cm


There were surprises among the unsold, including two Fontana’s works: red “Spatial Concept, Waiting” (Lot 125) and white “Spatial Concept, Waiting” (Lot 129).



The David Teiger collection and Contemporary Art achieved the total revenue of £ 69,787,000 including premia, against the high estimate of £ 73.5 million.


OCTOBER 5, 2018

Total sales: £ 35,921,100 including premia.

Sotheby’s opened the auction session with 25 works mainly by contemporary artists from the collection of David Teiger, almost all of them getting a somewhat lower value than expected.

The evening was opened by the artist’s record reached by “Wants to see it all”, a work of 2002, by Kai Althoff, which from the estimate of £ 80,000 – 120,000 got £ 574,000 including interest, after a long battle between collectors on the phone.

Kai Althoff, Wants to see it all, 2002

Paint, tempera and paper on canvas, edged with iron

50.2 x 60 cm


No twists and turns until Lot 6, when “Propped”, oil on canvas of 1992 by Jenny Saville, chosen for the catalogue cover and estimated £ 3,000,000-4,000,000, came with a £ 9,537,250 including premium, after a long phone battle between collectors marking the record for a living woman artist. This result reflects competition, and the competition in the role of women in art.

This large canvas, which made Saville famous thanks to the exhibition “Sensation” held in 1997 at the Royal Academy of Arts, was owned by the magnate Charles Saatchi, and it revolutionizes the traditional representation of the woman’s body.

Jenny Saville, Propped, 1992

Oil painting on canvas

213.4 x 182.9 cm


“Station Buffalo I “, oil on canvas dated 1997-1998, reached £ 7,561,500 including premium from the estimate of £ 6,000,000-8,000,000.

With the same estimate, according to the characteristics of the former in terms of subject, data, size, and technique, the result was different for ” Station Buffalo II”, which was sold at the price of £ 4,513,000. Probably this second work by Doig went to the third party guarantor, who had ensured the painting.

Peter Doig, Buffalo Station I, 1997-98

Oil painting on canvas

175.3 x 269.9 cm

Peter Doig, Buffalo Station II, 1997-98

Oil painting on canvas

175.3 x 269.9 cm


Not very good however for “Minerva”, oil on canvas by John Currin, which first remained unsold and was then put up for auction again at only £ 370,000, included, in a starting forecast of £ 800,000 – £ 1,200,000.

John Currin, Minerva, 2000

Oil painting on canvas

71.1 x 55.9 cm



5-6 OCTOBER 2018

EVENING AUCTION 5 OCTOBER: Total sales: £ 33,865,900, including premiа.

DAY AUCTION 6 OCTOBER: Total sales: £ 14,008,500, including premiа.

After the Teiger collection, the evening continued at Sotheby’s with 40 lots of Contemporary Art.

The undisputed star of all the international press was Banksy’s work, which suddenly destroyed itself after being sold for £ 1,042,000, including interest. “Girl with Ballon”, made in 2006, was the last lot of the auction and was estimated at £ 200,000-300,000. Shortly after the time, the mechanism hidden inside the frame activated and the work of the artist from Bristol was shredded in small strips. The bewildering and surprising performance immediately made Banksy claimed on social media. The value of the work has been exceeded with regards to marketing and resonance it made.

Banksy, Girl with Baloon, 2006

Spray paint and acrylic on canvas, mounted on a frame by the artist

101 x 78 x 18 cm


Part of Banksy’s unexpected performance were a few twists in this auction session. Hence two works by Georg Baselitz that far exceed expectations: “Ohne Titel” of 1966 from an estimate of £ 450,000-650,000 reached £ 1,150,000 including interest; while “Kopfkissen”, oil on canvas of 1987, took the figure of £ 1,450,000, the starting estimate was £ 40,000-600,000.

Georg Baselitz, Ohne Titel (Der Neue Typ), 1966

Tempera, ink and pastel on paper

39.1 x 26 cm

Excellent result for Adrian Ghenie’s “Boogeyman” dated 2010, which from an estimate of £ 2,000,000-3,000,000 flied to £ 4,851,900 including premium.

Adrian Ghenie, Boogeyman, 2010

Oil painting on canvas

200 x 335 cm


Among the unsold, some also present some excellent names, such as a “Spatial Concept, Expectations” by Lucio Fontana, a Castellani “Troika” and two Kapoor “Parabolic Mirror, Asagi” and “Untitled”.

“Again and again”, Kaws acrylic on canvas depicting the cartoon character Sponge Bob, set a record and a Taiwanese dealer was awarded after a long telephone battle, flying from the estimate of £ 250,000-350,000 to £ 1,030,000 interest included.

Kaws, again and again, 2008

Acrylic on canvas

172.8 x 172.8 cm




Total sales: £ 2,493,250 including premia.

The Phillips auction house, in addition to being increasingly attentive to and publishes photography (auction on 4 October), dedicates an entire session to ceramics intended to strengthen the dialogue between art, design and craftsmanship.

Ceramics, a technique traditionally placed among the decorative arts, is now viewed with renewed interest also by the so-called “emerging” collectors. With a private auction, Phillips captured the public’s attention by presenting the material in a completely different light.

The new interest in ceramic artists had already emerged in New York last December during the evening design auction when the work “Rondena” by Peter Voulkos, sculpture of powerful dimensions, set a record for an American ceramic artist totalling $ 915,000, premium included, $ 400,000 beyond its high rating.

As we saw in the Christie’s Thinking Italian auction on October 4, the excellent result achieved by Leoncillo is the market trend: the “Great Mutilation” stoneware sculpture was sold at £ 728,750 against a high estimate of £ 500,000.

On the occasion of the autumn auction of Phillips, the curator Francesco Bonami proposed 32 works both modern and contemporary signed by Fontana, Ai Weiwei, Fausto Melotti, Picasso and Roy Lichtenstein followed by other lesser-known masters who worked in this material.



Total sales: $ 6,198,625 including premia

Peter Voulkos, Rondena, 1958

Porcelain stoneware, brushed cobalt, iron, epoxy resin

157.5 x 95.9 x 82.6 cm

Estimate: $ 300,000-500,000

Sold for $ 915,000, including premium


Lucio Fontana, Horse, 1935-36

59.5 x 79.5 x 46 cm

Estimate: £ 400,000- £ 600,000

Sold for £ 549,000, including premium


Roy Lichtenstein, Ceramic Sculpture # 10, 1965

21.6 x 22.5 x 21.6 cm

Estimate: £ 250,000-350,000

Sold for £ 309,000 prize included


Ai Weiwei, He Xie, 2010

Variable dimensions

Estimate: £ 400,000- £ 600,000

Sold for £ 609,000 including premium


Pablo Picasso, Hibou (Owl), 1975

34 x 20 x 4 cm

Estimate: £ 50,000-70,000

Sold for £ 93,750 including premium


Fausto Melotti, Female Figure, about 1950

Height 21.7 cm

Estimate: £ 40,000-60,000

Sold at £ 56,250 prize included


“The shades of the art rainbow are endless: choose your favorite!”