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Megan Mulrooney on Paddle8’s Female-Focused Post-War and Contemporary Auction

Yesterday, bidding opened for Paddle8’s newest Post-War and Contemporary auction. The sale, live through March 15, features a significant focus on women, including work from artists like Cindy Sherman, Catherine Opie, Mickalene Thomas, Nan Goldin, Shirin Neshat, Lynda Benglis, and Zoë Buckman. Whitewall spoke with Megan Mulrooney, Paddle8’s Senior Specialist in Post-War and Contemporary Art to learn more about the auction.

WHITEWALL: You said the auction’s focus on work by women artists is a response to a wider movement in the art market giving female artists prominence. What does that gaining traction mean for the market?

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Lynda Benglis, LAAHLI, 1996, copper steel and wire mesh. Est. $20,000 – $25,000.

MEGAN MULROONEY: In 2014, when Georgia O’Keefe‘s painting Jimson Weed/White Flower No 1 broke all auction records previously set by female artists with a $44.4 million price tag that tripled the price previously set by Joan Mitchell at $11.2 million, the disparity between these results and those that were set by their male counterparts like Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, and Francis Bacon, whose paintings each have made in excess of $100 million at auction, became glaringly obvious. This disparity is not due to the scarcity of female artists in the canon of art history, but rather the opportunities that these female artists were given in comparison to white, male artists. The growing attention and awareness of the disparity between female and male artists across all categories of art is a great step in the right direction, such as the announcement last month of the Uffizi’s latest effort to reincorporate female artists into the art historical canon.

Paddle8’s Post-War and Contemporary Auction with a focus on female artists only adds to the chorus of voices urging for inclusion and re-evaluation of the status quo. Our sale is dedicated to blue-chip and emerging female artists who address a wide range of issues from gender stereotypes, femininity, reproductive rights, sexuality and otherness. By shining our curatorial light on these artists, we aim to put these artists and their works in conversation with one another to contribute to the global awareness of the importance and contribution of the female artist. As awareness grows we expect that the gap disparity in value of artworks between male and female artists to narrow, we know that this will be a long process but it would be great for values to rise to meet the level of their male contemporaries.

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Shirin Neshat, Untitled, 1995, gelatin silver print. Est. $23,000 – $25,000. 

WW: Could you share a few highlights from women artists that are of particular note in this sale?

MM: Joan Mitchell’s Untitled work on paper with her tenuous yet brash lines is a clear standout, while Jenny Holzer’s digital masterpiece Little Blue Corner plays her three raw and very feminine poems “Arno”, “Oh” and “Blue” streaming a monotonous blue coldness in the style of a Wall Street ticker tape machine. A rare opportunity for buyers is to purchase a Catherine Opie commission where Opie will stylize a portrait of the winning bidder. Nan Goldin of course is such a champion of the outsider and a trailblazer so her work, Hair, is a highlight.  I would also point out two great works on paper, Elizabeth Murray‘s Foot, Stairs, Dog and Tauba Auerbach‘s G.

WW: While the sale includes work from many blue-chip artists, is there a female artist whose work is in the sale you think the market should be more familiar with?

MM: I think that one of the most interesting and incisive works is Zoë Buckman’s Champ, a sculpture in neon and boxing gloves. She is an artist who has an avid following and whose work is especially relevant right now with the assault on women’s freedom of choice and I think she will become even better known in the near future.

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Tauba Auerbach, G, 2005, ink on paper. Est. $50,000- $70,000. 

WW: Do you have a personal favorite in the sale you could speak to?

MM: I have a soft spot for Shirin Neshat. As an Iranian Muslim woman living in New York City her work speaks directly to the socio-political climate of today. Her portraiture is a rare glimpse into the private lives of Muslim women and her Untitled work in the sale demonstrates her flirtation with femininity and what beauty means behind hijab. The experience of being a woman is played out in this photograph and viewers are presented with what it means to be a woman in Islamic society. A fun fact is that Cindy Sherman, another photographer whose work is offered in the sale, was purportedly the first person to buy a Neshat in the West.

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THE SPRING ARTIST ISSUE
2023

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