Mary Cassatt (1844-1926)

Cassatt is a leading painter within the Impressionist movement alongside Edgar Degas and Berthe Morisot. Though her family objected to her becoming a professional artist, Cassatt began studying painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia at the early age of 15, she continued her studies in Europe and later moved to Paris were she embarked on a successful career with many commissions. An active feminist she was part of the suffragette movement and also overtly critical to the Salon's conservative stance towards female artists. After seven years of exhibiting at the salon her paintings were in 1877 rejected and, invited by Degas, she instead exhibited with the Impressionists.

Cassatt often created images of the social and private lives of women, with particular emphasis on the intimate bonds between mothers and children. In an 'Important American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture' auction in New York December 2005 an oil on canvas Mother and Two Children sold for a record-setting $4.272.000.



John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)

Born in Italy to American parents Sargent is considered the leading portrait painter of his generation, creating more than 900 oil paintings and 2.000 water colors. His many portraits of the upper echelons of western society mapped the latest fashions and evoke Edwardian era luxury.

John Singer Sargent's celebrated painting entitled Group with Parasols (A Siesta) set a new record for the artist at auction when it sold for $23.528.000 at Sotheby's in December 2005.



Mark Rothko (1903-1970)

Of Russian Jewish descent Rothko is classified as an abstract expressionist, a label he rejected. Rothko dropped out of Yale University and was first exposed to the arts in 1923 when he visited a friend at the Art Students League, he enrolled in classes with Cubist artist Max Weber and later also took courses at New York School of Design with Arshile Gorky. His early exposure to these prominent modernists led him to as a tool of emotional and religious expression his artistry is intellectually driven.

Rothko's 1961 painting Orange, Red, Yellow was sold in May 2012 by Christie's in New York for $86.9 million.




Dorothea Tanning (1910-2012)

Tanning, who was largely self-taught, began her career as a commercial artist in Chicago in 1930 and a few years later she moved to New York. She discovered Surrealism at MoMa's seminal exhibition Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism in 1936 and is celebrated for her meticulous depictions of surreal scenes mingling animals with erotic objects and people. Tanning met Max Ernst in New York whom she later married, they lived together in Sedona, Arizona and later France where they lived between Paris, Touraine and Provence. They had a rich social life and were friends with many important people from the western artistic community.

In an article from 2011 Tanning's record at auction is cited as $104.000.



Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011)

A born and bred upper-class New Yorker Frankenthaler's breakthrough was in 1952 with the exhibition of the large painting oil painting Mountains and Sea, in her signature technique "soak stain" of painting directly onto an unprepared canvas so that the material absorbs the colors. The technique was adopted by many other artists and initiated the second generation of the Color Field school of painting. She is also associated with Abstract Expressionism and had a relationship with Clement Greenberg who she colalborated with and was married to Robert Motherwell, with whom she was knownfor lavish entertaining.

The auction record for a painting by Frankenthaler is the $818.500 paid for her 1975 Royal Fireworks at Christie's New York in November 2011. Gagosian represents her estate.



Jasper Johns (1930-)

Hailing form Augusta, Georgia Johns once said "In the place where I was a child, there were no artists and there was no art, so I really didn't know what that meant. I think I thought it meant that I would be in a situation different than the one that I was in." Johns studied at the University of South Carolina, from 1947 to 1948 the following year he studied briefly at the Parsons School of Design and during the Korean War he was stationed in Sendai, Japan. He returned to New York in 1954 where he met his long-term lover Robert Rauschenberg. Johns was strongly influenced by the choreographer Merce Cunnigham and his partner composer John Cage, with whom he founded the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Art. Founding director of MoMa Alfred Barr purchased four of his works from his first solo-show organized by Leo Castelli. The rest is history.

Jasper Johns makes use of the classic iconography of American Pop-Art in a Neo-Dada style, his seminal work Flag from the collection of the late best-selling author Michael Crichton sold for $28.6 million at Christie's New York in 2010.



Cindy Sherman (1954-)

Born in New Jersey Cindy Sherman became interested in visual arts at Buffalo State College, she began with painting a medium she quickly abandoned for conceptual photography. Together with Charles Clough, Robert Longo and Nancy Dwyer, Sherman created the art center Hallwalls in the 1970s. Many of Sherman's photo-series call attention to the stereotyping of women in films, television and magazines often using herself as a subject, , like the 1981 Centerfolds and Film Stills. In regards to the series Sherman states, "In content I wanted a man opening up the magazine suddenly look at it with an expectation of something lascivious and then feel like the violator that they would be. Looking at this woman who is perhaps a victim. I didn't think of them as victims at the time... Obviously I'm trying to make someone feel bad for having a certain expectation." Sherman also moves beyond the visual arts collaborating with the fashion and music industry.

In 2011, a print of Untitled #96, which depicts Sherman as a lovelorn woman clutching a personal ad while lying on a kitchen floor became the most expensive photograph at the time fetching $3.89 million at Christie's. Sherman has spoken out about her contemporaries being more quickly rewarded on the auction market. Sherman has stayed with her original dealers Metro Pictures in New York and Sprüth Magers in Europe since 1984 in addition she sometimes shows work with Gagosian Gallery.