Selling Women: A Very Unpopular Choice at Phillips’ “Under the Influence”

by Corinna Kirsch on February 18, 2015 · 2 comments The Art Market

Abstraction is for men, figuration is for women.

Abstraction is for men, figuration is for women.

Numbers tell us that collectors will consistently pay more for art made by male artists. Why? It’s entirely unclear, but taking a look at the spring auction previews, collectors prefer men to women at a ratio of more than 3-to-1. There’s no way to rationalize this preference gap.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be compiling data, making spreadsheets, and charting out who’s in the spring contemporary art auctions at Phillips, Sotheby’s, and Christie’s. By tracking what’s actually happening, we here at AFC hope to figure out why these discrepancies exist, or at least make them that much more noticeable.

First up: Phillips’ Under the Influence New York auction, to be held on March 4, 2015. In the past, the sale has brought auction newcomers to the sales floor alongside works by blue-chip artists like Christopher Wool, Ed Ruscha, and Richard Prince. This year’s spring edition proves no different from auctions of years past; we’ll see works by younger artists like Artie Vierkant, Travess Smalley, and Petra Cortright right up next to the Warhols and Richters.

Number of lots: 213

Number of lots by men: 178 (83 percent of lots)

Number of lots by women: 36

Number of female artists: 30*

Number of male artists: 133**


Other notes: Based on the available lots, more of the figurative work are made by women and more of the abstract works are made by men.

Oddly, a work by Sophie Bueno-Boutellier made an appearance in the September edition of Under the Influence. Just months later, it’s going up on the auction block again. We bet someone’s hoping to get more than $313 for it this time.

sophie two

Full list of artists:

Alex Prager
Analia Saban
Bettina Werner
Candida Höfer
Catherine Yass
Chantal Joffe
Diane Arbus
Jennifer Reeves
Jennifer Steinkamp
Jenny Holzer
Jessica Stockholder
Kaari Upson
Kika Karadi
Loretta Lux
Louise Bourgeois
Marilyn Minter
Michelle Sakhai
N. Dash
Nilofer Suleman
Nina Beier
Pae White
Petra Cortright
Rosson Crow
Sarah Crowner
Shinique Smith
Shirin Neshat
Sophie Bueno-Boutellier
Suling Wang
Tamar Halpern
Yayoi Kusama

Aaron Bobrow
Albrecht Schnider
Alex Hubbard
Alex Van Gelder
Alfred Bowman
Allan McCollum
André Butzer
Andreas Gursky
Andy Warhol
Angelo Filomeno
Anselm Reyle
Anton Henning
Artie Vierkant
Barnaby Furnas
Bjarne Melgaard
Brendan Fowler
Brent Wadden
Carroll Dunham
Cheyney Thompson
Chris Martin
Christian Marclay
Cyprien Gaillard
Damien Hirst
Dan Christensen
Dan Colen
Dan Rees
Daniel Lergon
Daniel Turner
David Mach
David Ostrowski
Davis Rhodes
Dean Levin
Donald Baechler
Doug Starn and Mike Starn
Dylan Lynch
Eberhard Havekost
Edward Burtynsky
Elad Lassry
Elger Esser
Emil Alzamora
Ethan Cook
Evan Penny
Friedrich Kunath
Gabriel Hartley
Georg Herold
George Condo
Gerhard Richter
Gregor Hildebrandt
Günther Förg
Harif Guzman
Hugh Scott-Douglas
Idris Khan
Isaac Brest
Israel Lund
Jake and Dinos Chapman
James Lee Byars
James Welling
Jason Middlebrook
Jean-Baptiste Bernadet
Jeppe Hein
Jim Dine
Jim Shaw
Joe Bradley
Joel Sternfeld
John Gerrard
John Newsom
John Waters
Jonas Wood
Julian Opie
Justin Adian
Kehinde Wiley
Keith Haring
Kelley Walker
Ken Price
Kon Trubkovich
Korakrit Arunanondchai
Kour Pour
Leo Gabin
Lucien Smith
Mark Flood
Mark Grotjahn
Massimo Giannoni
Matthew Barney
Michael Ceulers
Michael Eastman
Michael Manning
Michael Ray Charles
Michael Staniak
Michelangelo Pistoletto
Nathan Hylden
Nazar Bilyk
Nick Darmstaedter
Olav Westphalen
Oliver Laric
Parker Ito
Paul Pfeiffer
Paul Shambroom
Peter Halley
Peter Sarkisian
Peter Zimmerman
Raqib Shaw
Rashaad Newsome
Rashid Johnson
Richard Aldrich
Richard Prince
Richmond Burton
Robert Polidori
Rodney Graham
Ronald Davis
Russell Young
Ryan Estep
Ryan McGinley
Ryan McGinness
Sam Falls
Scott Reeder
Sebastian Black
Sergej Jensen
Slater Bradley
Sol LeWitt
Spencer Finch
Steven Shearer
Terence Koh
Thilo Heinzmann
Thomas Zipp
Travess Smalley
Ugo Rondinone
Victor Man
Vik Muniz
Walead Beshty
Wyatt Kahn

*The art collective Bruce High Quality Foundation receives a count in both the “lots” and “artists” categories.

**Duos Mike Starn and Doug Starn and Jake and Dinos Chapman each received one individual count in the “artists” category.


Craig Liszt February 18, 2015 at 7:21 pm

In addition to the dramatically under-represented work of Women, there is also an alarmingly low and disproportionate number of works sold by artists with Downs Syndrome. Something like 0% this year. Check my blog @

Corinna Kirsch February 18, 2015 at 8:51 pm

Would you be so kind as to show me your data for these numbers? Thank you.

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