O'Keeffe Painting Breaks Record for Female Artists

Even from beyond the grave, Georgia O’Keeffe continues to assert herself as one of the definitive artists to ever paint, let alone the influence she exerted as a female artist during a time when women painters were in short supply. So it makes for a heartwarming piece of news that one of O’Keeffe’s paintings just shattered the record for highest price paid at auction for a woman artist, cementing her position as a cornerstone in the art world.

The painting in question, ‘Jimson/White Flower No. 1’, is a classic example of the O’Keeffe style, a flower depicted in hyper close-up, evoking both the fragile beauty of nature and the inherent connection between nature and female anatomy. O’Keeffe’s current highest auction sale rang in at $6.2 million, but this sale fetched a jaw-dropping $44.4 million, well beyond the projected $15 million estimate. Ironically enough, the painting was sold by the O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a place where the artist spent a great deal of time portraying some of the locale’s natural environment, notably in her animal skull portraits.

As exciting as this recent sale is, women artists are still far behind the prices that their male contemporaries will conjure at auction. One of Andy Warhol’s ‘Elvis’ paintings recently sold for over $80 million, double the amount of the now highest paid work for a female artist. It seems less likely that this could be attributed to outright sexism but to the sheer lack of women artists throughout history when compared to the far greater number of men working simultaneously. Regardless, it’s refreshing to note the continued transcendence of an artist like O’Keeffe, breaking down barriers and shattering that glass ceiling for women even now.

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