It is best known for propelling previously niche artists such as Tracey Emin and Paula Rego into the mainstream. And now, as it prepares to mark its 30th anniversary, the Saatchi Gallery in London is set to get the art world talking again, with its first all-female exhibition.
Champagne Life, which opens on 13 January, brings together the work of 14 emerging artists from around the world to give them a museum-scale space to showcase their work.
“We’ve always supported the work of women artists over the years, many of those have gone on to have key roles in the contemporary art world, but I think there’s still a huge amount of work to be done,” said Nigel Hurst, the gallery’s chief executive.
“Though women artists are far better represented in contemporary art now, in terms of the number of women artists that are having their work exhibited and shown, there remains a glass ceiling that needs to be addressed.”
Of the top 50 contemporary auction lots by living artists sold at Christie’s and Sotheby’s in China, New York and London in 2015, only four were by women – a mere 8%.
The highest price paid at auction for a work by a living female artist is $7.1m (£4.85m) for a Yayoi Kusama painting; the highest male equivalent is $58.4m for a sculpture by Jeff Koons. Similarly, the most paid for a work by a deceased female artist is $44.4m for a Georgia O’Keeffe painting, compared with $142.4m for a Francis Bacon triptych. When the East London Fawcett group audited 134 commercial London galleries in 2013, it found that only 31% of the represented artists were women.
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