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Work by female artists at auction is growing in value at a faster pace than that of their male counterparts, according to a study by Sotheby’s Mei Moses that analyzed sales data from the last six years. But while the auction market nearly doubled for female artists between 2008 and 2018, women artists are still underrepresented in a fundamental sector of the art market: galleries. Last year’s UBS Art Market Report found that only 36% of the artists represented by primary market in 2018 were female, accounting for an average of 32% of their sales.
The perception that art made by women is less valuable is one that the French nonprofit Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions (AWARE) seeks to correct. For the 2020 Armory Show, the international art fair held every year in New York City, AWARE will recognize a solo booth of a woman artist by a gallery at the fair with a $10,000 award to either a living artist or her estate.
Five solo booths have been shortlisted for the prize: Yuko Nasaka at Axel Vervoordt Gallery; Rina Banerjee at Galerie Nathalie Obadia; Aase Texmon Rygh at OSL Contemporary; Alexis Smith at Garth Greenan Gallery; and June Edmonds at Luis de Jesus de Los Angeles.
The initiative will highlight “the courageousness of the artist’s gallery to undertake a solo presentation of work by a woman artist in a market that has systematically undervalued art made by women,” says a press release.
AWARE co-founder Camille Morineau has also curated (Un)seen Scene, a walk-through of the main section of the Armory Show focused on work by female artists. Her selections will bring attention to 25 women artists on view at the fair, including Alicja Kwade, Betye Saar, Hannah Wilke, Olga de Amaral, Alexis Smith, Ana Mendieta, and Zanele Muholi. An audio guide will be available to visitors.
“The women artists we have selected for (Un)seen Scene are united in their exploration of the concept of perception, or more importantly by what is not observable, what lies underneath the surface of things,” said AWARE co-founder Camille Morineau. “It seems interesting, since we are ourselves in an endeavor of visibility, to focus on practices whose goal is to reveal what’s hidden to the eye or to the mind.”
This year’s Armory Show opens to the public on Thursday, March 5; hours and visitor information can be found on its website.