Japanese Artist Yayoi Kusama was the top-selling contemporary artist of 2023

April 29, 2024

The style of Yayoi Kusama‘s art is nothing short of iconic. Brightly colored, imaginative, and covered in polka dots; the Japanese artist’s larger-than-life aesthetics—both in her art and her self-expression—are arguably some of the most striking works to come out of the 21st-century art world, reports My Modern Met.

Art collectors certainly seem to think so. The latest Hiscox Artist Top 100 report found that Kusama was the top-selling contemporary artist of 2023.

The 95-year-old artist made $80.9 million at auction last year—beating runner up and previous holder of the title, David Hockney. Her most expensive piece, entitled A Flower (2014), sold for almost $10 million alone.

Kusama’s success at auction may correlate directly with the increase in people buying art made by women. The number of female artists featured in contemporary art has skyrocketed by 179% in the last five years.

“Despite being 95 years old, Japanese trailblazer Yayoi Kusama remains one of the most influential female artists,” said Robert Read, head of Fine Art and Private Clients at Hiscox. “Her work and life continue to attract global followers and deliver blockbuster shows, but as we move through the HAT 100 list, female representation begins to wane. Contemporary female artists have always been undervalued and underrepresented. Meaningful progress has been made in recent years, as the market gradually begins to recognize the importance and value of their work, but we are still some way from parity.”

Kusama has been a staple of the contemporary art world since she emerged as an artist in the 1950s—first in Japan and later in New York City.

The artist’s kaleidoscopic designs were initially used as a way for her to cope with intrusive, obsessive thoughts, but the average viewer would be hard-pressed to find any negativity in her work. Walking into a room and being surrounded by her whimsical polka-dot designs makes it almost impossible to feel upset.

With nearly a dozen current exhibitions of her art worldwide, anyone who has the opportunity to go see Kusama’s work in person should absolutely do so, as she continues to inspire and fascinate collectors and critics alike.

Research contact: @mymodernmet