Top Female Artists by Auction Turnover


Looking back, women did not become a regular part of art history’s narrative until the end of the 19th century. However, today’s secondary art market is still largely dominated by men.

Women are still substantially under-represented on the global Art Market.

According to Artprice’s founder/CEO thierry Ehrmann, “the generation now imposing itself on the secondary market – that of artists under 40 – is fortunately closing the gender gap”. In 2018, the Top 5 artists (by auction turnover) born after 1978 include three women. This highly symbolic transformation of the market is being accompanied by an increasing recognition of major female signatures who are gradually being admitted into the Pantheon of the high-end Art Market, with big-number results in auction rooms.

The top selling female artist in the global Art Market – all periods of creation combined – is none other than an 89-year-old Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (1929-) who has spent 40 years living in a psychiatric hospital. A key figure in 20th-century art with her obsessive creative practices, Yayoi Kusama’s work is in many respects close to Art Brut.

Moreover, this is the fourth consecutive year in which Yayoi Kusama has generated the highest annual auction turnover for a female artist in the world, says In 2018, twenty-one of her works fetched sums above the million-dollar threshold worldwide: fifteen in Hong Kong, three in New York, two in London and one in Seoul.

Joan Mitchell takes the second place in the The Top 20 Female Artists in the Global Art Market During 2018.On 1 May 2018 the David Zwirner Gallery announced publicly that it now has exclusive representation rights with the Joan Mitchell Foundation. A first solo exhibition of the artist is scheduled in New York in 2019, but the Market has already reacted very positively. On 17 May 2018, her Blueberry (1969) buried its estimate of $5-7 million when it fetched $16.6 million at  Christie’s in New York, setting a new auction record for the American artist.

Artprice: The Top 20 Female Artists in the Global Art Market During 2018

1. Yayoi Kusama (1929-)
Auction turnover: $102,532,176.

2. Joan Mitchell (1926-1992)
Auction turnover: $83,925,120.

3. Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986)
Auction turnover: $66,666,700.

4. Cecily Brown (1969-)
Auction turnover: $32,480,908.

5. Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010)
Auction turnover: $24,616,761.

6. Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)
Auction turnover: $19,947,414.

7. Agnes Martin (1912-2004)
Auction turnover: $17,208,649.

8. Tamara De Lempicka (1898-1980)
Auction turnover: $16,382,986.

9. Jenny Saville (1970-)
Auction turnover: $13,225,583.

10. Mary CASSATT (1844-1926)
Auction turnover: $10,317,602.

11. Maria Elena VIEIRA DA SILVA (1908-1992)
Auction turnover: $7,707,244.

12. Bridget RILEY (1931-)
Auction turnover: $7,103,990.

13. Camille CLAUDEL (1864-1943)
Auction turnover: $6,996,741.

14. Cindy SHERMAN (1954-)
Auction turnover: $6,755,382.

15. Elizabeth PEYTON (1965-)
Auction turnover: $6,123,286.

16. Elisabeth FRINK (1930-1993)
Auction turnover: $4,390,860.

17. Christine AY TJOE (1973-)
Auction turnover: $3,989,020.

18. Niki DE SAINT-Phalle (1930-2002)
Auction turnover: $3,966,458.

19. Njideka Akunyili CROSBY (1983-)
Auction turnover: $3,868,973.

20. Louise NEVELSON (1899-1988)
Auction turnover: $3,845,112.