Georgia O’Keeffe‘s “Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1” 1932 oil on canvas, just sold at auction for $44,405,000, which is a record for a female artist. (I look at this painting a LOT as it is the cover of a huge book of O’Keeffe’s work that sits next to my bed.) I saw this posted first on a friend’s Facebook wall. My friend is a female artist herself and was dismayed, to say the least, that the fact the this was reported as a record for a “female” artist. She felt the gender distinction was unnecessary. I get that on one level, I do. But I posted something to the effect that O’Keefe IS a “female” artist, as well as “dead” one, and these were merely attributes of the artist. I was chastised and told that I shouldn’t decide what offends someone else. True that.
Nevertheless, you can’t have it both ways. Female artists, as well as critics like Jerry Saltz and others of both genders, often complain that female artists are given second-class citizenship in the art world (it’s often true in the “real” world, so it’s not really surprising…) Art advisor, Todd Levin, also posted this pic and was excited about the record. (He also speculated that it MIGHT have been won by Alice Walton, of the Walmart billions and if so, the public will end up seeing it at her Crystal Bridges Museum.) Personally, I love O’Keeffe, and it has nothing to do with gender, so this was exciting news to me to see such a great artist be recognized at auction. Cindy Sherman, Joan Mitchell, Louise Bourgeois, Cady Noland, Marlene Dumas, Bridgette Riley, Yayoi Kusama, Barbara Kruger, Freda Kahlo, Julie Mehretu, Jenny Holzer, Jenny Saville... the list goes on of the top female artists who have hit high marks at auction. There are MANY great artists, who also happen to be female, but I can see the point of not dwelling on the gender, any more than if they were black, gay or Chinese. The work should speak for itself. But for the purposes of an auction report, it IS a milestone that is worth reporting. Wouldn't it be worse NOT to mention it? Post this yourself, if you like, and see what others think about this topic. Discuss.