Yayoi Kusama Tops 2023 List of 21st-Century Artists - Kanebridge News
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Yayoi Kusama Tops 2023 List of 21st-Century Artists

Wed, Apr 10, 2024 11:25amGrey Clock 3 min

Artworks by Yayoi Kusama collectively sold for nearly US$81 million last year at the major global auction houses, making her the top-selling 21st-century contemporary artist, according to the Hiscox Artist Top 100 report.

The boost in sales for Kusama’s works pushed David Hockney, the previous year’s top-selling artist, to second place. Hockney’s art garnered US$50.3 million in sales last year, down from US$74.7 million in 2022, said Hiscox, a London-based specialty insurer.

The second annual ranking, compiled with research and analysis from London-based ArtTactic, also showed Kusama’s No. 1 ranking was consistent with a strong showing by women artists overall last year. Joining Kusama among the top five last year was Cecily Brown, who ranked fourth with US$31.7 million in sales.

Yoshitomo Nara, ranked third with sales of US$36 million and George Condo ranked fifth with sales of US$29.5 million.

Total sales of contemporary art made after the year 2000 fell 17% to US$955 million last year from US$1.5 billion in 2022, according to the report. Though sales of contemporary art by women fell 8% to US$306 million, the number of works sold rose 21%. And sales by their male peers fell a much sharper 20%, the report said.

“The market for female artists has been much more resilient than that for male artists,” the report said.

The results go beyond ultra-contemporary art. Earlier this year, ArtTactic reported that overall sales of art by women at the major auction houses hit a record US$825.8 million last year, up 7% from a year earlier.

Another mark of progress: Art by women comprised 32% of 21st-century art auction sales last year, up from 29% in 2022, as the number of women artists behind these sales continued to climb. There were 728 women artists represented last year, up 179% from 2019, the report said.

“Contemporary female artists have always been undervalued and underrepresented,” Robert Read , head of art and private clients at Hiscox said in a news release. “Meaningful progress has been made in recent years, as the market gradually begins to recognise the importance and value of their work, but we are still some way from parity.”

Following Kusama and Brown, the top female artists by sales value were Julie Mehretu, with sales of US$21.4 million; Jadé Fadojutimi, with sales of US$8.5 million; and Jenny Saville, with sales of US$7.8 million.

The Hiscox report just examined the auction market for works created in the 21st century and sold at Christie’s, Phillips, and Sotheby’s. This segment was stronger than much of the art market last year, with sales still 26% above pre-pandemic levels. Sales of art made before 2000 have fallen 22% since 2019, the report said.

This segment of the market is also making up a larger share of all post-war and contemporary art sold at auctions, reaching 70% last year from 63% a year earlier.

The Hiscox report was consistent with other analyses of the art market last year that found large-ticket sales, over US$1 million, declined in favour of sales of works with price tags of US$50,000 or less.

Within the 21st-century art category, the number of lower-priced works sold gained 25% while the number sold above US$1 million fell by 12%. The trend is backed by a near doubling in the number of artists making 21st-century works that end up at auction since 2019, the report said.

The benefits of so-called flipping—or the practice of selling art made by young artists within two years of their creation—fell dramatically, bringing in US$39 million in sales last year from US$67 million in 2022. That’s despite the number of lots with this newly made art at 662 was about the same as the previous year.

Though Kusama is 95 years old, 41% of those making 21st-century art are under age 45, unsurprisingly. Leading this group of younger artists last year was: Nicolas Party, whose works sold for US$20.2 million; the late Matthew Wong, whose works sold for US$16.5 million; Fadojutimi; Caroline Walker, whose works sold for US$7.5 million; and Dmitri Cherniak, whose works sold for US$6.7 million.


What a quarter-million dollars gets you in the western capital.

Alexandre de Betak and his wife are focusing on their most personal project yet.

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More meetings and faceless chats. Fewer work friends. How the modern workday is fuelling an epidemic of isolation.

Wed, May 29, 2024 5 min

More Americans are profoundly lonely, and the way they work—more digitally linked but less personally connected—is deepening that sense of isolation.

Nick Skarda , 29 years old, works two jobs in logistics and office administration in San Diego to keep up with his bills. After a couple of years at the logistics job, he has one friend there. He says hi to co-workers at his office job but doesn’t really know any.

“I feel sort of an emptiness or lack of belonging,” he says. Juggling two jobs leaves Skarda exhausted, with little energy or time to grab drinks with co-workers . “It makes it harder to go in and give it your all if you don’t feel like anyone is there rooting for you,” he adds.

Employers and researchers are just beginning to understand how workplace shifts over the past four years are contributing to what the U.S. surgeon general declared a loneliness health epidemic last year. The alienation affects remote and in-person workers alike. Among 1-800-Flowers.com ’s 5,000 hybrid and fully on-site employees, for instance, the most popular community chat group offered by a company mental-health provider is simply called “Loneliness.”

Consider these phenomena of modern work:

It is a marked shift from even a decade ago, when bonds fostered at work helped compensate for declining participation in church , community groups and other social institutions. As the American workday becomes more faceless and scheduled , the number of U.S. adults who call themselves lonely has climbed to 58% from 46% in 2018, according to a recent Cigna poll of 10,000 Americans.

The faceless workday

The disconnection is driving up staff turnover and worker absences, making it a business issue for more employers, executives and researchers say. Cigna, the health-insurance company, estimates that loneliness is costing companies $154 billion a year in absenteeism alone.

“Work is social, it’s a lot more than a paycheck,” says James McCann , founder and chairman of 1-800-Flowers.com.

Earlier this year, 1-800-Flowers.com moved from three days in the office to four to boost a sense of connectivity among workers. It has also begun tapping workers across teams to serve as designated hosts during lunchtime, encouraging people to sit with colleagues they don’t know in common areas and chat, and suggesting conversation topics.

While today’s workers have more ways to connect than ever, “there are only so many memes and jokes you can send over Slack,” says Maëlle Gavet , chief executive of Techstars, a pre-seed fund that has invested in 4,100 startups. “We tend to have more and more people with back-to-back calendars, more meetings and less connections.”

Gavet says that is especially the case for hybrid workers on in-office days, which they tend to use to dash from one meeting to the next.

Paradoxically, meetings can make people feel lonelier—and even more so if the meetings are virtual, behavioural researchers say. A 2023 survey by employee experience and analytics company Perceptyx found people who described themselves as “very lonely” tended to have heavier meeting loads than less-lonely staffers. More than 40% of those people spent more than half their work hours in meetings.

In Cincinnati, Kelly Roehm says she came to chafe at the meetings—sometimes as many as 12—consuming her day after joining a consulting company in 2021. She would often feel her eyes glazing over as she multitasked on other screens.

“It’s like you’re a zombie, there but not there,” says Roehm, who lived 10 minutes from the office but worked mostly remotely because she says few colleagues typically came in. It is a more common setup as companies distribute teams across more locations: At Microsoft , 27% of the company’s teams all worked in the same location last year, compared with 61% in 2019.

She compares that experience with her time more than a decade ago at a company now owned by AstraZeneca . There, she enjoyed lots of social outlets at work: a Weight Watchers group and a lunchtime crochet club.

“Now if I were to think about asking, ‘Hey, do you want to participate in something like this,’ it would just sound weird,” says Roehm, who left this year to focus on her own career-consulting business. “There wasn’t that emotional attachment that made it difficult to say, it’s time to move on.”

The power of small talk

Office chitchat, sometimes an unwanted distraction, seems to provide more benefits than many people realize, says Jessica Methot , an associate professor at Rutgers University who studies social ties at work.

In a study of 100 employees at different workplaces, Methot and fellow researchers surveyed participants at points throughout the day. They found those who had engaged in small talk reported less stress and more positivity toward co-workers.

Even exchanging pleasantries with a co-worker you barely know can help, says Sarah Wright , an associate professor at New Zealand’s University of Canterbury who studies worker loneliness.

“We used to think loneliness has to be overcome by developing meaningful relationships and having that degree of intimacy,” Wright says. “More and more, though, we’re seeing it’s these day-to-day weak ties and frequency of [interactions] with people that matters.”

Such interactions are substantially harder to replicate in a virtual environment. “The default now is, I have to schedule time with you, even if it’s five minutes, instead of just picking up the phone,” says Katie Tyson , president of Hive Brands, an online food retailer founded in 2020 as a fully remote company.

The frictions add up, she says. Last fall, the company added an office in New York where employees voluntarily gather a couple of times a week to foster more cohesion.

Coming to the office, even on a hybrid basis, tends to yield a roughly 20% to 30% boost in serendipitous connections, according to Syndezo, which analysed survey data and email and messaging traffic from more than two dozen large companies.

Yet there are diminishing returns to time in person, says Philip Arkcoll , founder of Worklytics, which analyses workforce data for Fortune 500 companies. Coming in once a month provides a significant boost in ties; two or three times a month adds a little more, Worklytics data show. Once or twice a week results in a smaller increase, though, and working in-person four or five days a week makes almost no difference.

A business priority

Ernst & Young has asked managers to use the first five minutes of team calls to engage in conversation “as real human beings,” says Frank Giampietro , whose title, chief well-being officer for the Americas, was created in 2021 to help support employees during the pandemic.

The professional-services firm is also training employees to spot and reach out to co-workers struggling with issues such as isolation. To date, more than 1,600 employees have taken the training.

One challenge is that American workers have sacrificed connection for productivity, says Julie Rice , co-founder of fitness chain SoulCycle. These days, with more business contacts preferring video calls, she finds breakfast meetings and coffee dates on her calendar have been replaced with Zoom. Though efficient, such video calls are less likely to yield conversations that can turn into useful professional connections or lasting friendships, she says.

“Even people I’m meeting with here in New York, we’ll just Zoom,” she says.

Last year, Rice co-founded Peoplehood, a company that runs “gathers” to improve connectivity and relationship skills, and employers are signing up. One, a beauty-services business with hundreds of field employees who never see each other, asked Peoplehood to host a series of gatherings for workers to meet and share job advice. Another, a marketing company with far-flung employees, requested help after surveys showed staff wanted to feel more connected.

“Whatever relationships we had pre-Covid have sort of run out of gas,” Rice says.

Good luck prodding employees to socialise, though. Nearly all the 150-odd staff at the Pleasanton, Calif., headquarters of Shaklee, the nutrition-supplements company, used to attend annual Earth Day gatherings, which involved community service, lunch and breaking early for the day, says Jonathan Ramot , the company’s North American human-resources director. Office happy hours, bowling outings and “mix and mingles” were also robustly attended.

Now that the workforce has gone remote, last year’s Earth Day event attracted 20 staffers, even though most workers live nearby.

“We have a lot of people asking for in-person events, but when we plan them, they don’t show up,” Ramot says. “Then they complain they’re lonely.”

This past April, Shaklee instead held a mandatory get-together with the chief executive, who had relocated to Florida during the pandemic and was in town. About 100 employees gathered at a brewery for food, drinks and conversation—and no speeches from the bosses.

There was a buzz in the air, Ramot says, as staff hugged and delighted in seeing each other, some for the first time. “People were saying, I miss this,” he says.