Over the next few weeks, we will be taking a look at ten visionary female artists who stand at the vanguard. In part one of this journey, we embark on an exploration of five remarkable artists who are redefining the scene. With brushstrokes that rewrite conventions and concepts that challenge norms, they are redefining the very essence of contemporary art. These artists are shaping the art world, pushing boundaries, and sparking conversations that resonate far beyond the canvas and reach towards new horizons.
Notable for her portrait of Michelle Obama, Sherald challenges traditional portraiture by employing grayscale tones and vibrant backgrounds. Her reimagining of representation, coupled with her exploration of Black identity, has garnered her widespread recognition in the art market, as collectors and institutions seek works that reflect contemporary perspectives on race and culture. Sherald is represented by Hauser & Wirth.
Highest Auction Result: Amy Sherald's ‘The Bathers’ (2015) made a dramatic debut at auction in 2020, being only the second work by the artist to ever appear at auction. Her first work sold for $350,000 in May 2019, while ‘The Bathers’ exceeded expectations, reaching a hammer price of $4.3 million, far beyond the $150,000–$200,000 estimate.
'Precious Jewels by the Sea', 2019
courtesy of HBO
A pioneer of Op Art, Riley's mesmerising optical illusions and geometric abstractions create immersive visual experiences. Her exploration of perception and colour theory has had a profound impact on the art world in the 1960s, influencing subsequent generations of artists. Riley's enduring relevance within the market lies in her ability to merge scientific principles with artistic expression, appealing to collectors seeking intellectual and visual stimulation. Bridget Riley's artwork has grown at a 6% annual rate in the last 5 years.
The highest price ever paid for a Bridget Riley painting was achieved in 2022, when Gala (1974) sold for a staggering £4.4M Christie's Modern British Art Evening Sale in London.
Did you know?
According to the index of 100 women artists by AMR, the most significant period of progress occurred from May 2016 to May 2019 (+70%). This time coincided with the #MeToo and #BLM movements. After the Covid-19 lockdown, there was a further 30% increase in average values. Comparing sales of women artists to the wider market suggests that collectors are now showing more interest in contemporary women artists. In the top 10 list of artists whose works have increased in value the most over the last decade, eight were women, seven of whom are still alive.
Known for her powerful silhouette art and wider sculptural installation work, Walker delves into complex themes of race, gender, and history. By challenging historical narratives and engaging with uncomfortable historical truths, she has become a vital voice in contemporary art, sparking essential conversations about identity and power dynamics. At 28, she won a MacArthur Fellowship, making her one of the youngest recipients ever. In 2007, Time named her one of their 100 Most Important People.
Kara Walker's Fons Americanus at the Tate Modern, 2019
Courtesy of The Telegraph
Bernhardt's bold and colourful paintings capture the essence of pop culture and consumerism. With an eye for capturing everyday objects and pop-cultural references, her work speaks to contemporary consumer society. Her ability to blend accessibility with critical commentary has garnered her attention within the art market, as her pieces reflect the visual language of the modern age while prompting deeper reflection. Bernhardt is represented by David Zwirner.
- Highest auction record: $401,298 USD for ‘Untitled’, sold at Christie's Hong Kong in 2022.
Fruit Salad Venus mural by Katherine Bernhardt
As a crucial advocate for Black female artists, Himid's art confronts post-colonial narratives and addresses underrepresented histories. Her contributions to reshaping art discourse and her commitment to addressing social issues have solidified her position in the art market, inspiring both admiration and investment in her work. Himid won the Turner Prize in 2017, making her the first black woman to win the prestigious award. Himid was awarded the 2023 Maria Lassing Prize, securing a cash prize and an exhibition at Beijing's UCCA Center for Contemporary Art which will be her inaugural exhibition in Asia.
Courtesy of Tate Modern
Lubaina Himid's exhibition 'Navigation Charts', 2017.
Courtesy of Spike Island
Stay tuned for part two!
20 Sep 2023 | 5 min read
15 Sep 2023 | 5 min read
20 Jun 2023 | 2 min read
24 May 2023 | 4 min read
4 May 2023 | 8 min read
16 Mar 2023 | 5 min read
16 Mar 2023 | 5 min read
21 Nov 2022
20 Oct 2022