The Appraisal: How the Yayoi Kusama Market Rode a Wave of Affordable Editions to a Record Year at Auction in 2021

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Past week, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, introduced that they had jointly obtained Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room—My Heart Is Dancing into the Universe (2018). The crowd-satisfying set up will debut in D.C. as portion of its Kusama demonstrate this spring ahead of heading to Buffalo in 2023.

Joint acquisition arrangements are getting more typical as income-strapped museums request to compete with non-public collectors for sought-after—and more and more pricey—contemporary artworks. The buy of the polkadot lantern installation prompted us to check out in on Kusama’s auction market, which has been getting steam in the latest yrs.

 

The Context

Auction file: $8 million at Christie’s Hong Kong in December 2021

Kusama’s Performance in 2021

Lots bought: 750
Bought in: 51
Regular sale price: $244,638
Signify estimate: $150,870
Total sales: $183.5 million
Prime painting cost: $8 million
Cheapest painting price: $38,179
Most affordable in general rate: $28 (for an unnumbered restricted version 9.5x 14-cm painted cast resin pumpkin)

© 2022 Artnet Price Database and Artnet Analytics.

© 2022 Artnet Selling price Database and Artnet Analytics.

The Appraisal

  1. Solid bounceback. Kusama’s global auction gross sales have climbed substantially over the past decade, reaching a job high very last year. Her market place expert a slight dip in 2019, when whole product sales fell almost 8 %, and again all through the pandemic interruption of 2020, when they plummeted nearly 30 per cent year more than 12 months. But Kusama bounced back greater than ever in 2021, with overall revenue climbing virtually 160 percent, to $183.5 million.
  2. Expanding offer. More than the sector for many other artists, Kusama’s is a volume recreation. The selection of heaps on present has been escalating at a constant clip because all around 2007, with a document 750 provided in 2021. 3 tons have currently been bought in 2022 to date.
  3. Carving open the glass ceiling. Very last yr, Kusama cracked the checklist of the 10 finest-selling artists at auction, getting the 1st woman at any time to make the lower. Her top rated 4 loads at auction in 2021 ended up all pumpkins—two sculptures and two paintings.
  4. Reliable desire. In 2021, PDB users searched for Kusama a grand total of 17,778 times, with curiosity spread quite continually all over the calendar year.
  5. Obtainable value details. Kusama’s marketplace is driven by a massive amount of reduce-priced operates relatively than a handful of trophy heaps. Though the typical value for a Kusama at auction has risen nearly 70 p.c considering that 2019, to $244,638, it continues to be a very small fraction of the typical price for, say, a Jean-Michel Basquiat, at about $5 million. Kusama’s auction report of $8 million also pales in comparison to that of other artwork stars.

The Base Line

Presented the explosive recognition of Kusama’s mirrored infinity rooms with the Instagram and TikTok generations, attaining an installation is definitely not a poor idea for the Hirshhorn and Albright-Knox, specially as they look for to revive attendance publish-pandemic. When the artist’s mirrored rooms are by far her most well-liked and recognizable operates, none has at any time sold publicly. As an alternative, her auction existence is fueled by paintings, sculptures, and, most notably, editions, which hit the block by the hundreds each and every 12 months.

It is placing that Kusama looks to be as prolific as ever at the healthful age of 92, and that an at any time-increasing amount of lots are hitting the block every single yr. In this way, her market resembles that of KAWS or Banksy much more than peers like Brice Marden or David Hockney. But what Kusama has that KAWS and Banksy lack is a robust keep track of history in museum collections and art-historical scholarship. That, blended with the simple fact that her offer will inevitably dry up in the not-so-distant foreseeable future, bodes perfectly for the longevity of her market place. 

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