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Graphic reading 'BEST OF 2021,' along with images of artworks, buildings, and more.

The Defining Art Events of 2021

In 2020, it became clear that few things in the art world—and the world at large—could remain as they once were. After that whirlwind year, 2021 brought with it dramatic shifts of its own. Some of the most significant ones were felt in institutions. Some museums in the U.S. and Europe weathered controversies that heralded permanent changes in the way they function; others diversified their leadership and made steps forward. Meanwhile, after Covid-related long delays, long-awaited museums in Europe and Asia finally arrived, and established themselves as major institutions on the international playing field.

Artists were key in pushing various discourses forward, shaping the way certain pressing issues are discussed around the world and even paving the way for the rise of a new medium. Meanwhile, within the market, prominent figures helped bring back events like fairs, marquee auctions, and more, which had been sorely missed by some last year.

Below, a look back at the defining art events of 2021.

A Jasper Johns quantum-survey opens in two cities

installation shot with intersecting interior walls and two framed artworks

Taking “Mind/Mirror” as both a title and a prompt, a momentous and highly ambitious two-part survey of work by Jasper Johns opened simultaneously at the Whitney Museum in New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The probing and prismatic exhibition (which continues into February) features galleries in different locations that sometimes echo one another and other times take up different aspects of a common theme. The two curators involved—Scott Rothkopf at the Whitney and Carlos Basualdo in Philadelphia—clearly had a lot to talk about when organizing a show with such scope. And all the work by Johns—who at the age of 91 ranks as one of our most important living artists—clearly has a lot to say. — Andy Battaglia

An Indianapolis museum's job listing leads to a national outrage

Charles Venable.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields did not find favor when it posted a job listing—for a new director no less—that included within its description a stated aim to “attract a broader and more diverse audience while maintaining the Museum’s traditional, core, white art audience.” The museum quickly reversed course, issuing a statement that read: “Our audience—and most museums’ audiences—have historically been, and currently are, too homogeneous, and we are committed to changing that and intentionally diversifying our audiences. We deeply regret that in our job description, in our attempt to focus on building and diversifying our core audience, our wording was divisive rather than inclusive.” But tempers were not calmed, and shortly thereafter, Charles Venable, the museum’s president, resigned . —Andy Battaglia

François Pinault’s long-awaited Paris museum arrives

French former stock exchange, bourse de commerce building, transformed by Japanese world-renowned archtect Tadao Ando, will turn into art museum in Paris, May 18, 2021. The historic archtecture, owned by French billionaire François Pinault, will debut in this weekend. The museum was originally supposed to open in September 2020 and it was delayed due to Covid-19 pandemic. ( The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images )

Mega-collector François Pinault has been trying to open a museum in his home base of Paris for two decades. His dream was at last realized this year when the Bourse de Commerce, a massive private art space set in a former stock exchange in Paris, finally began welcoming visitors .   A fter  years of anticipation and  a $195 million upgrade from Tadao  Ando ,   the  Bourse de Commerce  now  provides a luxurious home for the  Kering  founder’s  blue-chip  collection .  T he exceptional quality of what  is  on view  is hard to ignore . When the museum opened after two Covid-induced delays, there was a David Hammons survey—a highly unusual presentation for an artist whose work is rarely ever seen in bulk. Alongside it  were  works by Cindy Sherman,  Ser  Serpas, Urs Fischer, and more. Its inaugural presentations offered proof that the Bourse de Commerce was not just a major entry to Paris’s already-rich museum scene, but also to the international scene at large. —Alex Greenberger

Cuban artists speak out against human rights abuses

A anti-government protesters march in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, July 11, 2021. Hundreds of demonstrators went out to the streets in several cities in Cuba to protest against ongoing food shortages and high prices of foodstuffs. (AP Photo/Ismael Francisco)

Throughout 2021, Cuban artists led vocal protests against human rights abuses and censorship in their country—and periodically faced the threat of imprisonment because of it. As many took to the streets, artists such as Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara were detained for extended periods of time. A groundswell of activism exploded around the Havana Biennial, with more than 400 cultural workers from around the world, including Tania Bruguera, Teresita Fernandez, and Walid Raad, signing an open letter renouncing the human rights abuses committed by the Cuban government in the past year. Bruguera, a frequent target of police scrutiny in Havana, was a vocal proponent of the boycott campaign that spread across social media under #NoALaBienalDeLaHabana. Artists Julie Mehretu, Theaster Gates, and Marina Abramović, as well as curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, were some of the high-profile figures to publicly lend their support to the boycott. As of November, several participants had heeded their calls and pulled out of the exhibition.   —Tessa Solomon

Klaus Biesenbach makes a surprise departure from MOCA Los Angeles

Klaus Biesenbach arrives at The Broad Presents West Coast Debut of 'Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983' on Friday, Mar. 22, 2019 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles has weathered many storms in the new millennium, having seen a string of directors from New York come and go. When Klaus Biesenbach was appointed in 2018, after running MoMA PS1 for over a decade, many believed he might actually be in it for the long haul. But during his short tenure, he lost two major curators—Mia Locks, whom he had recruited to be senior curator, and Bryan Barcena, who left for the commercial gallery Regen Projects—as well as the museum’s director of human resources, Carlos Viramontes. Earlier this year, Biesenbach was named artistic director, essentially demoting him as the museum began a search for an executive director who would oversee the institution’s daily management and operations as well as long-term staff-related initiatives. The board eventually appointed Johanna Burton, who made her name at the New Museum in New York before being named executive director of the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, in 2019. The joy seemed palpable. It lasted all but a week, when Biesenbach made the announcement that he would be leaving the institution to run two Berlin institutions, the Neue Nationalgalerie and the forthcoming Museum of the 20th Century. The job change was reportedly even a surprise to MOCA’s board, which had undertaken measures to keep him at the museum. Burton soon became the institution’s full director and started in November. —Maximilíano Durón

A controversial Robert E. Lee monument finally comes down

Crews work to remove one of the country's largest remaining monuments to the Confederacy, a towering statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, Pool)

Amid   Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, activists called for monuments honoring racist  figures to  come down,  in particular monuments  to Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general and slave owner. In 2021, many of these monuments  finally  were hauled away. The largest among them was a statue of Lee riding a horse  that, for years, had stood atop  a pedestal in Richmond, Virginia. Despite two lawsuits attempting to prevent its removal, the statue  was removed  this September. On the day the monument came down ,  Ralph Northam ,  the  g overnor of Virginia ,  said , “Our public memorials are symbols of who we are and what we value. When we honor  leaders  who fought to preserve a system that enslaved human beings, we are honoring a lost cause that has  burdened Virginia for too many years.”   Long anticipated by many, the monument’s removal stood as proof that last year’s activism had borne fruit. —Shanti Escalante-De Mattei

The art market returns to in-person events

auction floor with two paintings on the wall, an auctioneer, and a crowd of buyers

After a nearly two-year hiatus as a result of the pandemic, international art fairs and top auction houses resumed hosting in-person events. For the fairs, doing so was not one without road bumps. This fall, the world’s largest fair, Art Basel, returned to the Swiss city, as did the Armory Show in New York. With timed entries for crowd control and coronavirus-related restrictions still in place, the mood at the fairs was more subdued than in years past. The big three auction houses—Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips—were more successful, however, luring audiences back to salesrooms across New York, Europe, and Hong Kong headquarters. Bringing a jolt back to the auction sector was the return of blockbuster single-owner sales, such as one of the collection of Linda and Harry Macklowe at Sotheby’s, which was watched by hundreds and generated a staggering $676 million. Not since the start of the pandemic had such spirited bidding and such grand prices been seen. —Angelica Villa

UNESCO recommends the return of the Parthenon Marbles

Placards placed outside the British Museum during the protest. The British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles held a demonstration outside the British Museum, calling on the museum to tell the whole story behind their acquisition of the Parthenon marble sculptures and to return them to Greece. (Photo by Vuk Valcic / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

In October, a  UNESCO  Advisory Board concluded its annual meeting in Paris with the recommendation that the British government reconsider the ownership status of the famed Parthenon Marbles held in the collection of  London’s  British Museum. It was a landmark  chapter  in one of the longest-running restitution controversies in history .  The British government has contested that the s culpted relief panels and  friezes  were taken from  the Parthenon in Athens by Lord Elgin, the British ambassador during the Ottoman occupation of Greece, in 1801 ,  by  illegitimate  means.  Greece, in response, maintain ed  that this  was  a straightforward case of looting. The  U.K. government has since rejected the committee’s call to investigate the circumstances of the marbles’ arrival in England , indefinitely prolonging  the case — but  UNESCO’s statement remains  a victory for Greece, which has lobbied the issue to be heard by the committee since 1984. —Tessa Solomon

Lee Kun-hee's rich collection heads to South Korea's museums

A visitor looks at South Korean painter Kim Whanki's "Women and Jars" during a special exhibition of late Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee's art collection at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, July 21, 2021. The museum began on Wednesday its special exhibition of highly valuable artworks donated by the billionaire family of South Korea's family-owned, global conglomerate. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

In a year that was tough for museums around the world, it was nice to see some institutions triumph. In April, what might have been the auction of the century instead became, in the words of the director of the National Museum of Korea and National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, “the donation of the century.” The MMCA is just one of several Korean museums to be named that month as recipients of 23,000 artworks from the collection of Samsung’s late chairman, Lee Kun-hee, whose family was facing an inheritance tax bill of over 12 trillion won ($10.4 billion) after his death in 2020. When pieces from the collection, which has been valued at $20 billion, went on view over the summer, the showstoppers were pieces by the likes of Renoir, Gauguin, and Pissarro, but it is also rich in work by Korean artists from throughout history, including Yoo Youngkuk, Lee Jungseop, and Kim Whanki. —Sarah Douglas

Black women take the lead at U.S. museum boards

photos of three Black women, on the left from the waise up in a pink blazer, in the middle in a pink blazer standing in front of yellow furniture, on the right seated in a white blouse

In April, Denise Gardner made headlines—and history—when she was elected to be the next chair of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she has long been a trustee. When she took office in November, she became the first woman and the first African American to ever lead the institution. Her appointment was soon followed by a wave of news about museum boards, which have ofte­­n been particularly slow to change. In September, Seena Hodges became president of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Suzanne McFayden became chair of the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin, and Constance Rice became chair of the Seattle Art Museum. The election of these four Black women hopefully signals that other major museums in this country will soon follow suit. —Maximilíano Durón

The Louvre gets its first-ever female director

Laurence des Cars, director of the Musee d'Orsay, pictured at the exhibition "GOOD. TRUE. BEAUTIFUL. MASTERPIECES OF THE PARIS SALON FROM THE MUS'E D'ORSAY" at Kunsthalle Muenchen in Munich, Germany, 21 September 2017. The exhibition runs from 22 September 2017 ' 28 January 2018. Photo by: Matthias Balk/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

It’s a well-known fact that most of the world’s top museums are led by white men, and always have been. Signs of progress were afoot when the Louvre named Laurence des Cars as its next head, marking the first time in the Paris museum’s 228-year history that a woman was going to take the helm. Des Cars’s  appointment was roundly praised, given the reputation she’d accrued at the  Musée  d’Orsay and the  Musée  de  l’Orangerie , which she had led since 2017 and 2014, respectively. There, des Cars facilitated a series of provocative shows, including, at the Orsay, an expanded version of “Black Models,” curator Denise Murrell’s touted show about the Black subjects within famed works by Édouard Manet and others. Whether des Cars will bring that same radical energy to the Louvre still remains  to be seen, since she only began a few months ago, but her appointment signifies a big step forward for an institution where change—both within the galleries and behind the scenes—has been rare and slow. “Things are really changing for women in the museum world,” she told the  New York Times. —Alex Greenberger

Hong Kong's long-awaited M+ museum opens

A man walks past an art installation titled "Whitewash" created by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei during a media preview in the West Kowloon Cultural District of Hong Kong, Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. Hong Kong's swanky new M+ museum _ Asia's largest gallery with a billion-dollar collection _ is set to open on Friday amid controversy over politics and censorship. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

More than a decade in the making, Hong Kong’s M+ museum arrived at long last in November. With 700,000 square feet of space and an array of major donations from collectors, including a world-class one of more than 1,400 works from Uli Sigg, the museum is almost as big as New York’s Museum of Modern Art, both in size and ambition. Set in a building shaped like an inverted T that was designed by Herzog & de Meuron, M+ promises to be a major arrival on the international playing field and a potential destination for art lovers. Yet questions hang over whether it can show art that broaches hot-button political issues, in particular ones related to the Chinese government—an Ai Weiwei photograph never made it on view because of that, arousing controversy—and so it remains to be seen whether its dream of rivaling MoMA can be fulfilled in that regard. —Alex Greenberger

An NFT boom takes the art world by storm

Mike Winkelmann, who goes by Beeple, shows off his digital art process in his home studio, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in Ladson, S.C. The $69.3 million March 11 online auction of a collage of 5,000 images by the artist by Christie’s auction house in London catapulted Beeple’s artwork into a league of the most expensive ever sold by a living artist. (Andrew J. Whitaker/The Post And Courier via AP)

In the last months of 2020, as people sheltered in place, the world watched as the crypto bull run saw Bitcoin and Ethereum jump in value. By the first months of 2021, a then-little-known phrase had started entering the mainstream lexicon: “non-fungible token.” Though NFTs have been around since the 2010s, only blockchain enthusiasts really knew what they were until recently. After cryptocurrencies jumped in price, however, people quickly noticed just how much money could be made selling digital artwork to people newly flush in Ethereum. It wasn’t until Beeple sold  Everydays: The First 5000 Days (2021) for $69 million at Christie’s that the art world—and the rest of the world—really took NFTs seriously. For digital artists, this revolution was a dream come true. Traditional artists also quickly saw the appeal, given that most NFTs guarantee artists an immediate 10 percent cut of resale prices immediately after the work trades hands. Not everyone was quite so pleased. Critics have claimed that most NFTs are not high-quality art and that the space is still dominated by white men, and scams and theft remain common. But the billion-dollar industry is still in its infancy, after all, and watching how the space develops in the years to come should prove fascinating. —Shanti Escalante-De Mattei

Christo's dream of wrapping the Arc de Triomphe is realized

Christo's Arc de Triomphe art project in Paris become reality after 60 years. Paris, France on September 19, 2021. Photo by Lionel Urman/Abaca/Sipa USA(Sipa via AP Images)

The image of Jean Chalgrin’s Neoclassical icon looking alternately as though it had been mummified or cast out on the curb for scrap is one for the ages. Adding a eulogistic note to the proceedings was the fact that Christo had worked on the project for decades but it had only been realized after his death. Arguably the most loaded and stupendous of the artist’s wrap jobs since the Reichstag in 1995, the piece acquired, in 2021, some valences it might not have had in other years: muting a symbol of France’s glory is in keeping with an emphasis on decolonization being felt right now, and muting of anything at all is in keeping with rolling lockdowns. —Sarah Douglas

The Met removes the Sackler name from its walls

A group of ancient Egyptian objects beneath a sign that reads 'THE SACKLER WING.'

In the late 2010s, as museums came under pressure to distance themselves from the Sacklers, many institutions said they would stop accepting gifts from the family, which has been accused of selling the painkiller OxyContin while fully aware of its addictive properties. (The family has denied wrongdoing, and it recently settled legal claims through a payout of $4 billion. Purdue Pharma, the company that sold OxyContin, was also dissolved this year.) At the time, few institutions committed to taking down the family’s name altogether. That’s why it was such a landmark moment when, in December, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which has received millions of dollars from the Sacklers over the past half-century, said it would strip various spaces of the Sackler name. Among those spaces is one of the most heavily trafficked sections of the museum, a gallery where the Temple of Dendur is held. The Sackler family said it was “passing the torch to others who might wish to step forward to support the Museum.” That the Met did so was largely owing to activism by figures such as artist Nan Goldin, whose P.A.I.N. group led a high-profile protest at the museum in 2018. Shortly after the news was announced, Goldin took to Twitter to remark, “We did it!” —Alex Greenberger

Germany initiates the return of hundreds of Benin Bronzes

Three pieces of Benin Bronzes are displayed at Museum for Art and Crafts in Hamburg, Germany, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. Germany is returning hundreds of artifacts known as Benin Bronzes that were mostly looted from western Africa by a British colonial expedition and subsequently sold to collections around the world, including German museums. (Daniel Bockwoldt/dpa via AP)

Protests over the Benin Bronzes—a cache of artifacts plundered from the Kingdom of Benin in 1897 by British troops—have gained traction in the past few years. When Germany announced plans to send back hundreds of objects from the group in 2022, proof had officially arrived  that museums were beginning to listen to activists’ calls. Before the announcement was made in April, the Humboldt Forum in Berlin said in March that it would not show its Benin Bronzes, which was already a bold declaration from a museum that had only just opened. Then the German state followed suit, and said that it was plotting a wholesale return to Nigeria, with the intention of having some of the objects appear at the not-yet-built Edo Museum of West African Art in Benin City when it opens. The news was a welcome surprise: Germany holds few Benin Bronzes when compared to the U.K. and other countries, and yet it set a new standard for others to follow. And follow others did: the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Museum of African Art were among those to send back some of their Benin Bronzes in the months after Germany’s announcement. Germany’s declaration was a sign that Western museums had, at long last, begun to recognize their role in colonialism, leaving many across the world cautiously hopeful that future repatriations were possible.   —Alex Greenberger

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summary of art 2021

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Art Market in 2021 Summary of the Year

Art Basel 2019, Image Courtesy: Art Basel

After a very difficult year, the art market is now back at full speed with several records broken and new important trends. From NFTs to new in-demand artists, we look at what has shaken the art world in 2021. 

Named Collins Dictionary’s Word of the Year, NFTs have been on everyone’s lips this year and have been a complete game changer in the art world. Non-Fungible Tokens are a new kind of assets, fully digital bits of computer code that are part of the Ethereum blockchain and in a way are similar to cryptocurrency technology. The difference is, every NFT is unique and cannot be replaced by another identical one. They’re usually linked to a specific asset that can be anything digital – music or art – and constitute a new kind of ownership and collecting niche allowing for intellectual and creative rights to remain with the artist. Collectibles such as GIFs, video clips or virtual stickers that weren’t a popular investment before are now sought after assets. Investing in NFTs doesn’t require solid art expertise or experience which makes them easily accessible to everyone and draws the attention of young millennial and Gen Z collectors.

Beeple (Mike Winkelmann), Everydays: the First 5000 Days, Auto-immune, One of the 5000 images that comprise the artwork

One of the most talked about auctions of the year has been the sale of Everydays: The First 5000 Days at Christie’s. The digital work was created by Mike Winkelmann going by the name of Beeple who was previously a little-known graphic designer. Everydays is an NFT based compilation of five thousand images shared online on platforms such as Instagram. Since no one was sure how to value this new kind of art, the bidding started with no previous estimate and the artwork was bought by a crypto investor known as MetaKovan for an unprecedented sum of $69.3 mln. Although it wasn’t the highest price paid at auction in 2021, it cemented the NFTs position in the art market and proved that digital assets are something more than a short-lived pandemic trend.

The rise of Asian markets

This year has seen Asian markets solidify their position in the global art market with Hong Kong joining London, Paris and New York and becoming an important centre of the art world. Last year, in the light of the pandemic, global auction sales decreased by 20% only to return to the pre-covid numbers in 2021, in big part thanks to the art market boom in Asia. 

Hong Kong first outpaced New York and London in December 2020 only to continue to shift the global art market with its newly found buying power in the following months. In the second quarter of 2021, auction sales in China increased to $1.2 billion – 69% more than the total amount generated in 2019. Around 39% of sales recorded by Christie’s in the first half of the year was attributed to Asian buyers and Western artists such as Basquiat or Picasso became more popular bringing the Hong Kong market closer to its Western counterparts.

Sotheby’s hits the jackpot

In the midst of the pandemic, Sotheby’s is celebrating its most profitable year since the auction house was founded in 1744 with a whooping sum of $7.3 billion worth of art sold so far in 2021. The art market giant owes its massive success to young, tech-savvy collectors who buy art but also luxury items like jewellery, clothing and NFTs. 

The most expensive artwork sold by Sotheby’s this year has been a portrait of a young man by Botticelli hammered for $92.2 mln. Fashion amateurs also witnessed a record-breaking sale when a pair of trainers worn by Kanye West in 2008 sold for $1.8 mln in April. The auction house has also set a record for the most valuable single-owner auction when the Macklowe Collection owned by the real-estate billionaire Harry Macklowe and his ex wife sold for $676 mln as a result of a divorce battle.

Younger generation of collectors undoubtedly contributed to the company’s NFT sales that reached $100 million. “An influx of younger, tech-savvy collectors also saw a landmark crossover into purchases of physical works such as Alberto Giacometti’s Le Nez bought by Justin Sun, founder of the cryptocurrency platform Tron, for $78.4 mln”, reported Sotheby’s.

New art market stars

2021 has seen contemporary art sales become dominated by young and emerging artists. According to the London art market analysis firm ArtTactic, in October, 9 out of 10 top performing artworks auctioned at post-war and contemporary art sales at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips were produced by artists younger than 45. 

“There is still a lot of energy and interest around that sector of the market – emerging artists and artists of colour whose work is driven by identity and personal narrative,” said Drew Watson of Bank of America. This demand has been more evident during the pandemic partly because of the influence social movements and racial justice protests have had on the society. Buyers are becoming more interested in socially involved works and supporting artists representing certain ideas.

Wyświetl ten post na Instagramie Post udostępniony przez Flora Yukhnovich (@flora_yukhnovich)

One of the most successful young artists this year has been Flora Yukhnovich ( @flora_yukhnovich ) – a 31-year-old British painter known for utilising the language and symbolism of Rococo in her works and reimagining 18th century paintings through the prism of contemporary approach. In October, her painting I’ll have what she’s having sold at Sotheby’s London for £2.25 mln surpassing its estimate of £60,000 to £80,000 almost 30 times. Merely a few months before, Yukhnovich’s Pretty Little Thing was auctioned for $1,179,500 at Phillips New York with a pre-sale estimate of $60,000-80,000.

A few months ago, Myths of Pleasure (2017), a painting by British artist Jadé Fadojutimi (@jadefadojutimi) (born 1993) was auctioned at Phillips London for £1.1 mln breaking her previous record of £825,700 set the night before at Sotheby’s. Only a few years ago, Fadojutimi’s works were sold for between £6,000 and £10,000 which shows the fast dynamics of the art market and how quickly prices can rise when it comes to in-demand living artists these days.

Wyświetl ten post na Instagramie Post udostępniony przez Jadé Fadojutimi (@jadefadojutimi)

The art of self-destruction

Another auction that made the headlines in 2021 was the sale of the infamous Banksy’s work Love is in the Bin , previously auctioned as Girl with a Balloon in 2018 for £1 mln when it was shredded during the auction by a mechanism hidden in the artwork. The buyer decided to keep the work that was later renamed and deemed to be a completely new piece. A few months ago, the painting was auctioned at Sotheby’s London with a pre-sale estimate of £4-6 mln and was hammered for a record-breaking sum of £16 mln after ten minutes of intense bidding won by a buyer from Asia. In just three years, fame that came from the public act of self-destruction increased its value and put an artist not entirely accepted by the art establishment in the same price league as Picasso.

Big-ticket items

The highest price tags of 2021 belong to artists who have been known to break records in the last years and so the sales didn’t come as a surprise. Femme assise près d’une fenêtre (Marie-Thérèse) by Pablo Picasso was auctioned at Christie’s New York in May for $103.4 mln making it the most expensive artwork of the year. The portrait, a typical example of Picasso’s style of the first half of the 1930s, is the first artwork to surpass the $100m mark since spring 2019. Jean-Michel Basquiat remains the most expensive and sought-after Contemporary artist. Twelve of his artworks surpassed the $10 mln mark while his painting In This Case (1983) became the second most expensive work of the year reaching $93.1 mln at Christie’s New York. His popularity has only accelerated this year along with the increase in demand for artists from marginalised communities. Surprisingly though, two of his paintings – The Guilt of Gold Teeth and Made in Japan II – didn’t live up to expectations with the former sold for its lower estimate and the latter remaining unsold.

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About The Author

summary of art 2021

Aleksandra Mainka-Pawłowska

Art historian and art writer based in London. She is currently studying for an MA in art market and appraisal at Kingston University.

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Looking Back at 2021: An End-of-year Summary

  • December 31, 2021

Another year is ending, yet the pandemic goes on… Things remain the same, but are also different. Our moods have been going up and down, riding on the waves of available vaccines and new variants. Life almost goes back to what it was before, only to be halted again when a new mutation pops up. The cycles of a global pandemic. 

Life in Times of Covid

2021 started with an inauguration and hope. A huge burden was lifted and a collective sigh of relief was felt in the air, at least for some.

At the beginning of the year I was already accustomed to a life of lockdowns and isolation. Our little family cocoon settled into a comfortable routine of distant learning, meal cooking and family movie nights. I was never bored. Gardening, art, yoga, and, of course, my family and friends, provided solace and continuous interest (see my contribution to the Covid Chronicle below). I discovered the wonderful world of on-demand online art classes, and learned from artists from all over the world. I saw virtual exhibitions and listened to recorded artist talks. It was challenging and fun.

summary of art 2021

In April, vaccines finally became available. Another sigh of relief. Slowly, things started to go back to the way they were “before.” Hesitantly, we began seeing friends in person, still outdoors and distant, but better than nothing. Later, we were able to visit family, and in August the kids went back to in-person school, for the first time in a year and a half. My college student actually left for college, leaving an empty space behind. Then came the Delta strain, reminding us to stay alert.

Returning to the “before” life has had its own challenges. Many months of isolation slowed life down, and learning how to socialize again, how to live with more pressure, chores, obligations has been a learning curve. It’s been several months now, and I’m still adjusting. Things still don’t feel safe, and every situation has to be individually evaluated. We’re all learning, all the time. And now, right when we almost got comfortable again, Omicron is spreading like wildfire all around the globe…

Finishing Unfinished Projects (UFOs)

After years of staring at it, in January I finally rolled my sleeves up and tackled my UFO pile. I counted 58 (!!) projects in that pile, and vowed not to start anything new until I was done with most of them. In the end, it took me over three months to finish the projects that I still cared about. I can’t describe the relief I felt once the pile was gone! My sewing room felt a little more spacious, too…

Patchwork totes

Most of the projects in that pile were functional pieces. The great majority were bags. By the time I was done, I realized that I really am done. With bags, that is. The Bag Bug has worn off. I felt ready to move on, mostly in the direction of fine textile art. You can read more about my now-finished UFOs here . All of my available functional pieces are currently in my Etsy shop . I do not plan to make more once these sell out, not in the near future, anyway. Needless to say, I’ll be doing my very best not to accumulate another UFO pile going forward…

Spring Jacket

My UFO pile included fabrics for a spring jacket, which I haven’t actually started. When I stumbled upon them, I decided to go ahead and sew one. The fabrics were simply too pretty to ignore. I machine pieced the outer layer, and then hand stitched it to a lining. It took about two weeks of work, and resulted in a kantha jacket that I wore in spring. You can read about this jacket here .

Finished jacket

Art for Fun

In 2021 I continued exploring colors, textures and techniques. I finished a fun series of mini quilts and named it Spark . 

Spark art quilts series

I spent a lot of my time in the garden, and so it was no surprise that I was inspired by its wonderous blooms. The colorful Ode to Spring series was all about my garden, as was my mixed media series .

Ode to Spring quilt series

Time in the garden, combined with my determination to finish things up, also resulted in me finally completing the Backyard Critters series, which I started a couple of years before.

Backyard Critters quilt series

Art with a Message

I’ve been thinking a lot this year. About art in general, textile art in particular, my priorities and what I want to spend my time on. I’ve been torn between making art for personal healing and fun, and creating more meaningful pieces that have a deeper message. Increasingly, I’ve been feeling an urgency to do more of the latter. My time is limited, and life has a lot of demands on it. I have very little time left for creativity. Middle aged, I’m starting to feel my mortality, especially with a global pandemic in full swing. Time is short and there’s a lot to do. 

The Languishing series described pandemic mood and was utterly improvisational.

summary of art 2021

But some quilts formed in my head as complete images, and almost forced themselves on me. This was the case with the black, white and red quilts I made this year, which seem to be morphing into an in-progress series that I tentatively call The State of Human . These were all emotionally difficult to make, as they deal with complex topics and strong emotions.

summary of art 2021

Another quilt that started as a complete picture in my mind, Behold the Future , expresses my growing anxiety about climate change and it’s effects on our lives. The sever drought we’re having in California combined with consecutive years of devastating wildfires really brought this issue to our doorstep, and is literally keeping me up at night.

summary of art 2021

Lastly, for the last several months of the year I’ve been working on a quilt addressing plastic pollution in the oceans. I hope to finish it today, so you will have to wait for next year to see it 😉

Additional News

In May 2021 I was honored to be featured  in Made in Bed , an online magazine run by students of the  Sotheby’s Institute of Art , London. 

In October, two of my pieces, Behold the Future and my kantha-inspired spring jacket  were juried into the  Pacific International Quilt Festival and exhibited there. My very first quilt show!

That same month, my Ashes textile collage was juried into the  RePurposeful exhibition organized by SCRAP . The exhibition was displayed at the Randall Museum in San Francisco. Ashes sold on opening night, and I am excited to report that all proceeds went to support upcycling, something I am very passionate about.

summary of art 2021

Looking Ahead

  • For the foreseeable future, I think I am mostly done with functional art. 
  • In the coming year I hope to be able to take more classes and expand my skill set. I have lots of ideas and want to have a wider array of technical skills with which to bring them to life. 
  • As I’ve done so far, I want to keep experimenting with new techniques and ways of doing things. Even if that means I will not have a recognizable “style.”
  • Mark making and surface design (and perhaps fabric dyeing) will be a top priority.
  • I hope to make art that means something, though I know that fun, playful art is important, too. Balancing the two will be a challenge!
  • I aim to create at least some larger pieces, because although I enjoy working small, my recent exhibition experience taught me that size does matter.

I’m not sure what will come next, but I’m excited to find out. This creative adventure has been anything but boring! Thank you so much for being a part of it.

4 thoughts on “Looking Back at 2021: An End-of-year Summary”

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Thank you, Zwia, Your words and projects inspire me in the New Year. Blessings, Belinda🥰

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Happy New Year, Belinda! I hope 2022 will bring lots of health and creativity!

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What a wonderful, realistic, intuitive and amazingly creative person you are. I first found your Boro-style Jacket made with patches of your late father’s jeans. An emotional and inspiring project borne out of love and grief. That led me to visit your blog… and I was blown away by your talent. I hope all of your plans and dreams for this new year are fulfilled and that you continue to find happiness and contentment in your artworks. You will certainly bring much happiness to others with your creativity.

Thank you so much for your kind words! I hope 2022 will be good to you as well, and to all of humanity–the last couple of years have taken a great toll. Here’s to a healthy, joyful, and creative New Year!

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Leonie's Art Blog

Welcome to my rambly learning journey! I'm a low energy, autistic hermit & character illustrator! ʕ✿˵•ᴥ•˵ ʔ

2021 art summary: reflecting on the year!

Most popular 2021 blog posts:.

  • first blog post of 2021: why I quit instagram and facebook
  • Mother’s day SLM comic (see below too)
  • Happy Bilby Day fanart Crossy Road
  • Crossy Road+ theme park fanart
  • SLM: Life is frustrating sometimes
SuperLeonieMode 329 / Mother's Day comic ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜🖤 — Leonie Yue ❦ (@leonieyue) May 2, 2021

My most popular SuperLeonieMode

As usual SLM as a whole isn’t doing so well because I’m a super homebody with limited experiences to document with. Note that I’m not as proud with my SLM work compared to my other stuff.

Still I have a small buffer of SLM so I’ll let it disappear/stop after that (I do keep saying that because I’m reminding myself to let go haha). Or let it evolve again to my personal whims as it is one of my ways of self expression. So who knows!

The most Youtube views from 2021 [original blog post]

For some reason the Youtube algorithm gave me abnormal amount of views for a few videos and then I’m back to being under the radar again. I don’t normally get 600 views nor that many likes! I usually get 2-6 views a video :’)

summary of art 2021

My most upvoted piece on reddit !

summary of art 2021

My top 3 pieces from 2021 according to twitter likes

I’m not surprised that they’re all fanart because that’s how social media works ;D

Feeling mixed about it honestly. Reality is harsh I suppose.

summary of art 2021

My top 3 pieces from 2021 according my pixiv likes & bookmarks

Aw yes!! Kirbyroth reigns supreme!!

summary of art 2021

I don’t think this ArtStationRecap2021 counts

Note I haven’t used Artstation much in 2021 and the pro membership was a free trial for a handful of months only :’)

Yeah I don’t get much attention on this site since I’m not at “industry level” and I was told (in a well intentioned but super vague, unhelpful way) that my foundational art skills aren’t enough ;P

Whelp I got to keep doing, floundering and learning what I enjoy! Falling into an existential void. And hope to protect that joy without burning out :’)

summary of art 2021

My Artfol and my old Mastodon accounts; I ditched them for now

They’re cumbersome to use as one of them is mobile app only but at least they’re not horrible like Instagram :’D

I took a chance on these for a day but I don’t really want to post on them anymore. I sense that they’ll still remain as super niche platforms and I don’t want to commit and spread myself even more thin. I’m not taking it too seriously.

I’ve ditched Pawoo too since it seems like they have lots of sensitive/NSFW content which I respect but I don’t personally do.

I tried Bubblehouse too but deleted my work off from there asap when I found out that they’re blatantly doing NFTs and incorporated it within their app. I noped out of there. It wasn’t marketed as the apparent “eco friendly NFT social marketplace” when I initially joined!! I felt betrayed when I checked!! Now I have an empty account there because I can’t find the option to delete my account.

For the record again : I did not and will not do NFTs.

summary of art 2021

Reflecting on my art in 2021: I didn’t really do as many finished illustrations this year

I did lots of comfort zone fanart and some studies!

I don’t know how to best juggle studies/learning and finished illustrations – I’m just barely winging it :’)

Did I achieve what I was going for? Why / why not? What was my progress?

I don’t think I had a specific goal. All I had was “make sure I post regularly + take scheduled breaks”!

Striving to make arting and learning a habit!

But what’s different this year is that I actually took more planned breaks. As a result I don’t feel as stressed out. I’m thankful for that and how people seem to not mind (or care)! I don’t feel a huge surge of emotional relief that I’m taking this upcoming break for the first time since I’m not as tensed up throughout the year. Wow!!

In that light, I succeeded in posting regularly thanks to scheduled breaks. Now I need to make sure I have proper sleep as a habit. And I’m still tensed up in general because life and my energy levels are not great :’)

In terms of art progress, it’s mostly the same. Maybe there is some progress that’s invisible to me? I was too busy managing my part time art job and posting regularly so I mostly stuck with comfort zone art. That said I did experiment with studies as I’m not trying to stick to one art style. I’m just drawing what suits my taste and gut feeling in the given moment in which social media algorithms do not favour!

Guess I’m stuck at my current follower and metric counts forever ;P

I have been keeping track of my twitter metrics again with an analysis mindset though and it’s kind of interesting and eye opening! I’m not as sad anymore because I’ve given up. My metrics have plateaued for years – unless I have a sudden popular fanart or a very kind soul, friend or big company account who decided to retweet/share/boost it. Now I’m more focused on engagement since likes and retweets are more rare. Tweets are only popular because kind people share/retweet them – which don’t happen too often for me because I’m not really focused on making “shareable” art content. And I’m probably not “good enough” to have work shared widely. I’m floundering with art haha

I thought my study stuff didn’t do well since there isn’t as much likes but it’s still reaching more people than I thought! I deliberated many times on whether I should post my studies and rough stuff at my secondary twitter account but seeing the number of impressions shows that people do still skim, ignore and scroll past it and least they know that I exist (maybe? Since impressions only give me an idea of potential reach and not necessarily eyeballs on my art posts).

Anyhoo I can just keep my secondary blog feed account automated ! I don’t want to track another twitter account either ;P

I note that fanart illustrations reach people the most and everything else falls to the wayside because not a lot of people resonate with my other work. It seems like the real time youtube video didn’t really resonate well (at the moment there’s no likes) so I guess I’ll stick with low effort art timelapses at my youtube? Do I bother with timelapses? I’m more happy blogging than making videos, even though people keep saying youtube is the best for search & reach. Or are people on social media breaks right now?

I feel like people are in holiday mode while I’m existential about my life and trying to plan/juggle life, art direction and learning :’) Then again I’m sure I’m not the only one wondering about 2022.

It’s also emotionally exhausting when people tell me I don’t or do fit in something and I don’t know anymore. I don’t have an entrepreneurial, business, charismatic mindset as I’m more of a reserved, stubborn craftsperson and autistic artist. And I don’t feel compelled to fit into one industry because I’m more interested in doing small, manageable character concepts and illustration.

I keep asking year after year: where do I fit in?? Hm as always I feel lost and I have much to improve on and experiment.

Oh I won’t go into the art I do for Hipster Whale since it’s a team effort with the Hipster Whale team! I did some messy environment concept art and I mostly went straight to voxels when making and iterating art assets. I think I did improve under the art direction of our art boss as she had clear and great game artist vision!

Next year 2022…?

Next year I hope to do more personal illustrations, art, learning and studies~! Push my comfort zones with more studies, experiments and learning! Figure something fun and manageable to do perhaps. Okay this sounds like a lot on my plate already halp.

I guess my core focus would be learning and trying to get something going?

In terms of blogging I’m barely managing as it is! There’s also the low level and constant performance anxiety of not having anything of quality to show. Ah my life as a social media illustrator and homebody :’)

Maybe 2022 will have changes. Or maybe not. I don’t know. I’m still a low energy hermit and slow alien while many people are not natural homebodies like me haha

What can I do that only I can do? How do I compete with myself? What can I do better? What things should I experiment and study more in? Hmm. Lots of things ;D

I have a lot of vague hopes mentioned here instead of new year’s resolutions because I know life and my mental health are more important. I’d rather keep things optimistic, realistic and flexible. And I don’t want to promise things that I might not be able to deliver :’)

It’s frustrating, meandering and frightening at times but I’ll take as much time as I need. Trusting instead of rushing the slow process is best for me and my stress levels.

I hope that I’ll get a bit more engagement (hey I want to see what resonates, what I enjoy doing and what I’m good at), gain more understanding and practice in the things I’m learning, make more things I’m proud of and progress through my art.

I’ll keep up with my posting & art making schedule and learning/study schedule! The journey continues!

Time for my social media hiatus! I’m taking January off again!

Yes I am taking a long break from being on this “content/art creation hamster wheel” but I’m really attempting to build an art buffer here + learning, life, work, pondering & resting :’) Maybe I’ll play some games but I don’t know :<

As usual, I’ll pause the patreon so you shouldn’t be charged for January at the start of February :0

Digressing! Thank you so much for the kind, lovely, ninja support and for reading this year!!

Take care of yourself (emotionally, physically, mentally) and stay safe during this holiday break!

Catch you in February 2022!

♥ Support my art and learning journey on Patreon or Ko-fi! ♥

Thanks so much for reading my little blog thank you to my patrons for generously supporting what i do & keeping me going ʕ ✿˵•ᴥ•˵ ʔ ♡.

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The Most Important Moments in Art in 2020

This was a year of protests and pivots. Monuments fell, museums looked inward. On the bright side, galleries persisted despite the pandemic’s grip and curators rolled out magisterial retrospectives.

summary of art 2021

By Holland Cotter ,  Roberta Smith and Jason Farago

Holland Cotter | Roberta Smith | Jason Farago

Holland Cotter

No Longer Business as Usual

The year was a 12-month stress test. When I asked friends “how are you?” the repeat answers came: “anxious,” “depressed,” “bored.” The first two I could relate to, but bored is something I rarely am. As a journalist, I’m addicted to art-specific information, to taking it in, parsing it, sorting it, trying to make sense of it. And there’s been a ton of it this year, all pretty intense. So as long as I’ve had a laptop, a home library, and at least some access to “live” art, I’ve been OK in lockdown mode. Here are some things that have kept me focused.

1. Best in Show

Art , fundamentally, is information. It’s as much about issues as about objects, about how we live and think, ethically, politically, emotionally. This has been clear in exhibitions that have expanded our knowledge of what’s in the world, near and far. Among those I revisit in my mind are “ Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara ” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; “ Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration” at MoMA PS1 ”; and “ Sky Hopinka: Centers of Somewhere ” at the Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College. And to those, I’ll add three Manhattan gallery shows: a museum-ready survey of portraits by the still-undersung Benny Andrews at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery; a solo of work by Frederick Weston (1946-2020) at the Ace Hotel; and, at David Lewis Gallery, a reconstruction of rooms from the Los Angeles home of the reclusive artist and filmmaker John Boskovich (1956-2006), who called his living room the “Psycho Salon” and made it a rousing place to shelter.

2. Monuments

And there were objects that projected information loud and clear, as was the case with commemorative political monuments after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Two that made news this year were in Virginia. In Richmond, protesters transformed a colossal statue of Robert E. Lee into a jubilant paean to Black Lives Matter. And in Charlottesville, the scene of a violent 2017 Unite the Right rally, a new “Memorial to Enslaved Laborers” was installed at the University of Virginia, on a campus famously designed by Thomas Jefferson, a slaveholder, and built, brick by brick, by enslaved Black people.

The lockdown created dire economic crises for art institutions. Possibly even more destabilizing and harder to address long-term was the mounting pressure on museums to conduct moral self-inventories and to begin correcting systemic racial and social inequities. In the event, the learning curve for reform wasn’t just steep; it was a roller coaster.

Last May the Baltimore Museum of Art planned to auction works from its collection to pay for — among other things — equitable staff salaries, only to be hit by a firestorm of protests. A few months later, four museums collaborating on a Philip Guston survey — the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Tate Modern — were critically slammed when they decided to postpone and rethink a show that included some of that artist’s Ku Klux Klan-derived imagery.

In both cases, art institutions had legitimate arguments to make, but didn’t make them convincingly, and had to pull back. The Baltimore Museum dropped its auction plans, at least for the present. And, in a compromise gesture, the Guston postponement was reduced to two years from four. What a workshopping of the show will produce remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: our major museums now have two-year gaps in their exhibition schedules. How about filling those gaps with art that, unlike Guston’s, is nonwhite, nonmale, and noncanonical, an option that might have been considered from the start.

4. Organizing

Following staff layoffs during the pandemic, art institutions felt pressure from inside too. This year, continuing a trend from 2019, museum workers, voicing grievances based on racial discrimination and economic exploitation, have increasingly sought to unionize. In some cases, the efforts have gone smoothly. In others they’ve hit pushback. Together the results prove two facts: Institutions long assumed to represent the best in us can also represent the worst; and solidarity works.

5. Restitution

After three years of foot-dragging, the French Senate signed off on a bill in November promising to return a group of looted objects to Africa: 26 sculptures, now held by the Quai Branly Museum in Paris, will go back to Benin, and a sword (on loan from France’s Army Hospital to the Museum of Black Civilizations in Dakar) will be permanently repatriated to Senegal. But the returns feel dutiful and small. A 2018 report commissioned by President Emmanuel Macron of France estimated that some 90,000 African works are in French collections. “African heritage cannot be a prisoner of European museums,” Mr. Macron said. But clearly it still is, which made the news that the architect David Adjaye was designing a museum in Nigeria specifically to house returned objects most welcome.

6. Indigenous Presence

A concentration of Indigenous artists lit up New York galleries and museums this year. They included, along with Sky Hopinka at Bard, Edgar Heap of Birds (Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho) at Fort Gansevoort; Nicholas Galanin (Tlingit and Unangan) at Peter Blum; Jeffrey Gibson (Choctaw and Cherokee) at the Brooklyn Museum; and the Indigenous Canadian painter Kent Monkman (Cree) at the Met. In addition, the Met, which stands on Lenape homelands, hired Patricia Marroquin Norby (Purépecha Indigenous Mexican) as its first full-time Native American curator.

7. Latino Now

Latinos constitute the second largest ethnic and racial group in the nation. They’re a powerful political and cultural force (some have embraced the gender-neutral term Latinx), yet look for them in our big museums and you’ll barely find them. This past July, after years of advocacy, a bill proposing the establishment of a National Museum of the American Latino in Washington was finally passed by the House of Representatives. Once the Senate and the president sign off, it’s a done deal. That deal should be sealed, and soon.

8. Goodbye, Met Breuer

The Met’s experiment in off-site expansion closed with the March lockdown and never reopened. I wonder how many people noticed. In reality, projects never really achieved liftoff. Attendance stayed low. Critical reception was tepid. There was a lingering sense that the Met itself was relieved to see it go. (The Frick will take over the lease next year.) Yet, without the Breuer we would have missed important shows, ones that no other New York City museum was willing or able to offer. Superb career surveys of Siah Armajani, Kerry James Marshall, Marisa Merz, Nasreen Mohamedi, Mrinalini Mukherjee and Lygia Pape led the list.

I was heartened this year to follow the work of a new generation of sharp-minded art writers, among them Hannah Black, Nikki Columbus and Tobi Haslett, and to read the emphatically cleareyed commentary of the artist Coco Fusco. The voice I missed was that of the art historian and curator Maurice Berger, who had for more than three decades been taking the pulse of America’s racial politics as reflected in art and its institutions. He died in March, at 63, of complications from Covid-19.

10. The Great Outdoors

Given the closures and stretches of stay-home quarantine, it makes sense that a lot of the season’s most memorable art was open-air. Who could forget the words “Black Lives Matter” painted, huge and in caution-yellow, on the street in front of the White House and before Trump Tower in Manhattan? In advance of the 2020 election, the online site called “Art at a Time Like This,” founded by Barbara Pollack and Anne Verhallen, collaborated with SaveArtSpace to place politically pointed billboards by 20 artists — among them Sue Coe, Abigail DeVille and Dread Scott — throughout New York City’s five boroughs. And a collective of artists, led by Frank Sabatté, a priest and textile artist, associated with St. Paul the Apostle Church on Manhattan’s West Side installed their annual exhibition not inside the church but on the railings outside it, where the public could see it in safety and nature — weather and time — could determine when the show would end.

Roberta Smith

Persistence in the Face of a Pandemic

The main story everywhere this year was the coronavirus: how it disrupted or reshaped specific spheres of activity, or left parts of them largely unscathed. The art world witnessed dizzying combinations of these outcomes, which are still unfolding. One surprise was the almost instantaneous financial fragility of museums and the stalwartness of art galleries of all shapes and sizes. When the virus arrived, an especially strong art season had been underway.

1. ‘Noah Davis’

An early sign of the New Year’s strengths was a solemnly beautiful survey of the truncated career of the painter Noah Davis (1983-2015) at David Zwirner in mid-January. Davis combined realist figuration with touches of painterliness and color that added a resonant symbolism and elegiac calm to his scenes of almost-everyday African-American life. The display came to seem like the start of an amazing run of gallery shows by Black artists this season. They included Walter Price at Greene Naftali; Titus Kaphar at Gagosian (through Dec. 19); Ficre Ghebreyesus at Galerie Lelong; Leilah Babirye at Gordon Robichaux; Jonathan Lyndon Chase at Baby Company; Gideon Appah at Mitchell-Innes & Nash (through Dec. 5); Tschabalala Self at Eva Presenhuber (through Dec. 19); Nina Chanel Abney at Jack Shainman (through Dec. 23); and Theaster Gates at Gagosian (through Jan. 23, 2021). And reigning over them all is “Rope/Fire/Water,” an overdue survey of Howardena Pindell’s alternating forays into abstract painting and politics at the Shed (through April 11).

2. ‘Rosie Lee Tompkins: A Retrospective’

In Northern California, before the coronavirus lockdown, a life-changing, history-altering exhibition was briefly available at the University of California Berkeley Art Museum: the first full retrospective of the great quilt-artist Rosie Lee Tompkins (1936-2006). Her colorful, ingeniously improvisatory work is widely accessible and effortlessly evades any label that might occur: craft, outsider, abstraction, Pop. The 60 pieces in this show (which has not yet reopened, but will) were part of the museum’s 2018 Eli Leon Bequest, a 400-artist, 3,000-quilt cache of African-American quilts that if handled properly — a building of its own might be in order — could become one of the university’s defining attractions.

3. ‘Jonathan Berger at Participant Inc.’

One of the best exhibitions yet mounted by this venerable alternative space was Jonathan Berger’s installation “An Introduction to Nameless Love,” which opened in March and reopened again in September. It filled the space with shimmering texts of cut metal that delved into unusual relationships, including that of the turtle conservationist Richard Ogust and the diamondback terrapin that pointed him toward his calling. The floor beneath the letters was their exact opposite in terms of material: It was black, matte and slightly soft and made of thousands of small cubes of charcoal that expressed their own kind of tenderness.

4. ‘Festival of Judd, New York’

Opening just weeks before the shutdown, the Museum of Modern Art’s magisterial retrospective of Donald Judd’s objects was so impeccably selected and installed, it seemed that even that famously exacting Minimalist would have approved. His sense of color, scale and materials has rarely been so clear. The retrospective inspired a cluster of Judd shows in galleries around town. Most notable was Gagosian’s exhibition of one of Judd’s largest, least-seen efforts, an untitled 1980 installation piece in unfinished plywood that had not been exhibited in New York since 1981. It presented a grid of horizontal compartments subdivided by inserted planes, most on the diagonal, that divided the piece into a series of rhythmically contrasting volumes, planes and edges. They implied some kind of musical instrument delivering an exultant blast of sound.

5. ‘Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist’

A chapter was added to the history of women’s contributions to abstract painting with a small career survey of the painter Agnes Pelton (1881-1961), which came to the Whitney Museum of American Art from the Phoenix Art Museum. It was a beautiful show, full of inventive shapes levitating in tinted atmospheres with evening stars and spiraling lines; these canvases navigated their own fusion of geometric and organic forms and high art and popular art sources, especially Walt Disney’s “Fantasia.”

6. Online Viewing Rooms

As the art world closed down, online gallery exhibitions kicked in and “viewing rooms” became a thing. These were largely fancified versions of online access already common to gallery websites, except that you usually had to sign in and as a result perhaps feel slightly surveilled. Once there, images might slide seductively past, alternating with close-ups and whole views and pithy quotes from some writer or cultural figure. On the fancier sites, especially, it seemed like we were all in on the sales pitch. By the fall, its was clear that, with or without bells and whistles, viewing rooms and online exhibitions had become an art world staple, a way for galleries to expand their real estate, if only digitally. It is definitely not as good as the in-the-flesh experience, but it is another way to show, and see, more art.

7. ‘(Nothing but) Flowers’ at Karma

It was just a gallery group show, but its size, inclusiveness, theme and timing made it special. It was the first show that I and probably others saw after four or five months of sheltering in place. Between the absence of the art galleries and my absence from the city, I had come to feel rather feral, unfamiliar to myself. The vibrancy of this late-summer show snapped me back. It was a breath of fresh air, a sign of real life emphasized by the floral motifs. The more than 60 artists were an intergenerational, stylistically diverse group, but they all confirmed, as with one voice, the persistence of art and the instincts to make it.

8. ‘Jacolby Satterwhite’ at Mitchell-Innes & Nash

The multimedia artist Jacolby Satterwhite’s magnificent first show at Mitchell-Innes & Nash in October was an engulfing sci-fi pastoral that included a large digital video projection densely populated with sexy androgynous avatars and other groups of creatures and humans performing Mr. Satterwhite’s angular choreography, smashing disco-ball meteorites or just standing around looking cool. The show also included sculptures and neon-light wall pieces that riffed on Caravaggio, Manet and maybe Bruce Nauman with Black protagonists. Visitors could sit on a thronelike rattan chair reminiscent of Huey Newton’s and experience the video in virtual reality. The pulsing techno music was built on four songs by the artist’s mother, who could also be heard singing them. One provided the show’s title — “We Are in Hell When We Hurt Each Other.” The idea that inflicting pain on others only deepens one’s own could not be more germane.

9. MoMA Restarts

Until it happened once, it was hard to understand what it meant — the Museum of Modern Art’s big plan to rotate a third of its permanent collection every six months. The first rotation was supposed to open in May as the Spring Reveal.Ultimately, it became the Fall Reveal and opened in November. It was exhilarating to finally grasp how profound it will be to have MoMA’s collection trade its chiseled-in-stone fixedness for permanent, in-progress fluidity. Everyone — curators, visitors, scholars and artists — will have a new relationship with the museum, its vast holdings and the histories they can tell. The mind boggles.

10. Gone but Not Forgotten

Luther Price, Ron Gorchov, Siah Armajani, Paul Kasmin, Germano Celant, Maurice Berger, Zarina Hashmi, Ian Wilson, Beverly Pepper, John Baldessari, Jack Youngerman, Kevin Consey, Virginia Wright, Suellen Rocca, David C. Driskell, Thomas Sokolowski, Tina Girouard, Keith Sonnier, Rafael Leonardo Black, Renato Danese, Jason Polan, James Brown and Alexandra Condon, Mark Prent, Joanna Frueh, Genesis P-Orridge, Emma Amos, Susan Rothenberg, Grace Knowlton and Jackie Saccoccio.

Jason Farago

Pictures From a Crisis

The only virtue of this washed-out year: When the circus stopped, the art world could no longer lie to itself. For years, boosters told us that shows were “essential,” fairs “unmissable”; we discovered we could do without them quite well. And institutions reputed as “progressive” had to admit their intransigence. If 2021 is to be a year of reassessment and reconstruction, let’s at least promise to do it seriously.

1. ‘Carl Craig: Party/After Party’

The year’s most intelligent and most despondent exhibition came not from an artist, but a musician: the Detroit D.J. Carl Craig, whose conversion of Dia Beacon’s basement into a vacant nightclub pipes techno into a bloodline of minimal and industrial art stretching from Dan Flavin and Philip Glass back to the Bauhaus. With its bright, liquid beats, through its chest-jouncing bass line, “Party/After Party” crescendoes into a staggering amalgamation of popular revelry and high art, and a vindication of Black electronic music’s inheritances and influence. And then every nightclub on Earth closed — instantly converting Mr. Craig’s installation, five years in the making, into a memorial for when pleasure was still possible and bodies could still touch. This show was a feat from day one; Covid-19 made it an adventitious masterpiece, a taxidermied stage for all we have lost. (Through summer 2021.)

2. Gerhard Richter + Ceija Stojka

Two profound shows with nothing in common except one question: Can you paint Auschwitz? I cannot , pleaded “ Gerhard Richter: Painting After All ,” the German artist’s icy summation, up for just nine days at the Met Breuer — whose culminating “Birkenau” series began with an effort to paint photographs of the extermination camp, and ended up as streaky, speechless abstractions. I must , cried “ Ceija Stojka: This Has Happened ,” the Roma survivor’s burning retrospective at Madrid’s Museo Reina Sofía — whose runny, unrestrained paintings of Auschwitz bore witness to a genocide still in danger of being forgotten.

3. Mask Crusaders + Pictures for Elmhurst

Mid-March, desperate days, and Camille Henrot suddenly realizes: her studio is sitting on a stockpile of masks, gloves and respirators used for work with hazardous materials. The network that she, Shabd Simon-Alexander and their fellow Mask Crusaders built quickly channeled 150,000 items of P.P.E. from artists and museums to frontline workers. Soon after came Pictures for Elmhurst , an online fund-raiser of print-on-demand photography by Rineke Dijkstra, Thomas Demand and 185 other artists, which raised $1.38 million for New York’s hardest-hit hospital . Both reaffirmed that artists already have the capability to build new systems, and can get things moving in a matter of days.

4. Liu Xiaodong + Amy Sillman

Two artists, of quite different styles but sharing a rare benevolence, recommitted themselves during the lockdown to the daily practice of painting. Mr. Liu, a Chinese painter stuck in New York when flights stopped, showed at Lisson Gallery his sympathetic watercolors of isolated pedestrians and trees flowering in empty parks, many painted en plein air (with mask on). Ms. Sillman, a virtuoso of motion, brought to Gladstone Gallery not only commanding new abstractions but a pandemic surprise: small, tender floral still lifes, ardent promises of new life.

His specific objects are, as the curator Ann Temkin said during a lockdown talk, “the original self-distancers.” MoMA’s note-perfect retrospective , when it opened in March, let us encounter all Judd’s art with no barriers between our bodies and his boxes. When I revisited in autumn, and clocked how each minimal sculpture directed my movements around it, I discovered how thoroughly Judd had prefigured our pandemic dances. ( Through Jan. 9. )

6. Van Eyck

Art criticism is carbon-intensive; I’d planned this year to burn an appalling amount of jet fuel to visit Raphael in Rome, Matisse in Paris, Artemisia Gentileschi in London. I saw none of them — but in February I got to the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent, Belgium, for “ Van Eyck: An Optical Revolution .” For this one time only, eight panels of his altarpiece came out of Ghent’s cathedral and were shown as individual paintings. They are so beautiful, so stupefyingly perfect, they feel almost sacrilegious.

7. The Guston Letter

This summer’s oceanic antiracism protests have had many good repercussions for our museums, and one gross one: performative white guilt as PR strategy. Get real , said hundreds of American artists , who countered the pathetic, condescending four-year postponement of “Philip Guston Now” with a ringing public call for true accountability. The four museums organizing the show told us that Guston’s later paintings, with men in hoods reminiscent of Ku Klux Klan members, risked being “misinterpreted” today. What the artists maintained is that you can’t face up to white supremacy through withdrawal; you have to think hard, read deeply, reach out, get to work.

8. The Deaccessioning Debacle

The pandemic’s puncturing of nonprofit budgets led the Association of Art Museum Directors this year to relax guidelines on liquidating their collections — and institutions from Syracuse to Palm Springs and Baltimore to Brooklyn decided to flog their family jewels. On deaccessioning, I’m not a strict constructionist. Selling art that hasn’t been shown for decades can sometimes be justified. But strategically raiding your galleries for cash is a scandal; equity and preservation are not at odds; and woke austerity is still austerity.

9. ‘Making the Met’

The capstone of the Met’s bust of a 150th birthday, this rich self-scrutiny reordered the prizes of the museum by date of acquisition, rather than creation, to map the growth of a collection widening from Eurocentricity into a real universalism. The most urgent painting here is one of the Met’s very first purchases: Anthony van Dyck’s “Saint Rosalia,” vanquisher of a 17th-century epidemic, whom I’ve adopted as my Covid protectress . (Through Jan. 3.)

10. The Cows at the Clark

When art left me, when it all buckled, the bovines of the Berkshires steered me right. The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass., kept its grounds open through the pandemic’s bewildering first months, and there I’d watch a dozen cows munch and mosey across the museum fields — a Constable tribute act , taking it one day at a time. In summer, the Argentine artist Analia Saban erected “ Teaching a Cow How to Draw ,” a fence whose rails illustrate principles of drawing for the animals; they seem to like it.

Holland Cotter is the co-chief art critic. He writes on a wide range of art, old and new, and he has made extended trips to Africa and China. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2009. More about Holland Cotter

Roberta Smith , the co-chief art critic, regularly reviews museum exhibitions, art fairs and gallery shows in New York, North America and abroad. Her special areas of interest include ceramics textiles, folk and outsider art, design and video art. More about Roberta Smith

Jason Farago , critic at large for The Times, writes about art and culture in the U.S. and abroad. In 2017 he was awarded the inaugural Rabkin Prize for art criticism. More about Jason Farago

Art and Museums in New York City

A guide to the shows, exhibitions and artists shaping the city’s cultural landscape..

Chuck Close’s longtime gallerist, Arne Glimcher, has organized an exhibition of Close’s final portraits at Pace Gallery in Chelsea. Will it help restore his reputation ?

Sixty years after the Beatles appeared live on “Ed Sullivan,” Paul McCartney reflects on his photos capturing those halcyon days . The Brooklyn Museum will exhibit them, and some will be for sale later.

At the Swiss Institute, Raven Chacon, a Pulitzer-Prize winner, makes art warmed — socially and spiritually — by hope .

A Brooklyn Museum exhibit titled “Giants: Art from the Dean Collection of Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys” showcases art work collected by musical superstars — and makes a show of the collectors, too .

New York City has added another jewel to its glittering cultural crown, a major collection of early Greek figures and vessels , and it takes up little more than one medium-size wall at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Looking for more art in the city? Here are the gallery shows not to miss in February .

ART Success Rates

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Learn more about CDC’s National ART Surveillance System.

IVF Success Estimator

Estimate your chance of having a live birth using in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Fertility clinics in the U.S. report and verify data on the assisted reproductive technology (ART) cycles started and carried out in their clinics, and the outcomes of these cycles, during each calendar year.  ART includes all fertility treatments in which either eggs or embryos are handled.  The main type of ART is in vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF involves extracting a woman’s eggs, fertilizing the eggs in the laboratory, and then transferring the resulting embryos into the woman’s uterus through the cervix.

These ART data are a rich source of information that can give potential ART users an idea of their average chances of success per ART cycle or ART transfer.  Average chances, however, do not necessarily apply to an individual or couple.  ART success rates vary in the context of patient and treatment characteristics, such as age, infertility diagnosis, number of embryos transferred, type of ART procedure, use of techniques such as ICSI, and history of previous births, miscarriages, and ART cycles. People considering ART should consult a physician to discuss their treatment options.

Based on CDC’s 2021 Fertility Clinic Success Rates Report, approximately 238,126 patients had 413,776 ART cycles performed at 453 reporting clinics in the United States during 2021, resulting in 91,906 live births (deliveries of one or more living infants) and 97,128 live born infants. Of the 413,776 ART cycles performed in 2021, 167,689 were egg or embryo banking cycles in which all resulting eggs or embryos were frozen for future use. Although the use of ART is still relatively rare as compared to the potential demand, its use has more than doubled over the past decade. Approximately 2.3% of all infants born in the United States every year are conceived using ART.

2021 ART Success Rates

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National ART Success Rates

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How to Access and Interpret Fertility Clinic Success Rates

ART Fertility Clinic and National Summary Report

ART Fertility Clinic Success Rates Dataset

Archived ART Reports and Spreadsheets

Glossary of Terms

  • HHS Office on Women’s Health
  • Path 2 Parenthood
  • Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART)
  • American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM)

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Typo, artist, somewhat fluffy

2021 Summary of Art

Yearly post time! Will have some thoughts in here again whoops. Click through the read more to get a closer look at each piece as well as my thoughts for the year, otherwise here’s the summary image:

summary of art 2021

Like 2020’s post I’ll put personal thoughts and feelings under the art!

2021 AKA get your fucking jabs people please instead of being selfish self-righteous fucks. But I digress.

Artistically like I said in 2020, I didn’t feel like I had any form of artistic regression but there was certainly a feeling of stagnation. However that might just come from the fact 2021 was also just, A Year™.

I’ve not really had that same feeling of burnout as I felt in late 2019 through 2020, I even managed to open for commissions this year! Not as often as I’d like though.

If there’s any takeaway for that in 2021 it was that I felt things deliberately blocking me from doing art. I got my ass kicked by vaccine side effects and especially in the past 3 months where I’ve just had multiple health ailments (that are still ongoing) that I’m just physically struggling. But I’ll push on, hopefully I can start with 2022 as a sort of reset. That’d be nice lol.

Screen Rant

Fifty shades of grey pitch meeting — revisited.

The latest episode of Screen Rant's Pitch Meeting series is looking back on its Fifty Shades of Grey analysis and the unintentional fun to be had.

  • Fifty Shades of Grey 's box office success launched a trilogy but started an unfortunate trend for Dakota Johnson's career choices.
  • Johnson's critical acclaim pre- Fifty Shades trilogy contrasts starkly with more mixed reviews post-trilogy releases, like Madame Web .
  • With potential to excel in acting, Johnson's recent Rotten Tomatoes scores indicate hope for a turnaround in her future roles.

As Dakota Johnson returns to the big screen, Screen Rant 's own Pitch Meeting series is looking back at its Fifty Shades of Grey episode. The 2015 movie served as an adaptation of E.L. James' novel of the same name exploring the relationship between the titular sadist CEO and journalist Anastasia Steele, played by Johnson. Though critically panned, the movie was a box office smash, grossing nearly $570 million against its $40 million production budget and launching a trilogy based on James' subsequent novels.

In honor of the release of Johnson's latest movie Madame Web , the latest episode of Screen Rant 's Pitch Meeting series is taking a look back at its Fifty Shades of Grey analysis. The episode combines the original video poking fun at the entire trilogy's flaws, namely its lackluster stories and poor writing, as well as host Ryan George reflecting on his jokes, in which he does at least invite viewers to watch the trilogy with a group of friends for its unintentional hilarity in the same vein as The Room .

Fifty Shades Started An Unfortunate Trend For Johnson

At the time of the movie's development and release, the Fifty Shades of Grey novels broke multiple sales records, including becoming the fastest-selling paperback of all time in the United Kingdom. Much like its source inspiration of the Twilight franchise , studios were keen to quickly capitalize on this popularity by adapting the novels for the screen. The problem with this was, rather than looking to improve on the negatively received aspects of the novel, the movies decided to lean into them in the hopes of bringing in the various readers.

While this proved a successful approach as far as box office receipts go, as the trilogy went on to gross over $1.32 billion worldwide, it also started an unfortunate trend for Johnson's career. Prior to the Fifty Shades trilogy, she had found steady acclaim starring in the likes of David Fincher's The Social Network , the 21 Jump Street movie revival and The Five-Year Engagement . Following the trilogy, however, Johnson has seen a far more mixed output , with seven of her 19 subsequent releases landing " Fresh " ratings from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Check out the various scores below:

Though she has enjoyed some successes with the likes of The Peanut Butter Falcon and The Lost Daughter , it's clear that Johnson's role in Fifty Shades of Grey was only the start of her critical woes. Her most recent release, Madame Web, has been particularly troublesome for the star, netting both her worst Rotten Tomatoes score since the last Fifty Shades movie and the worst of Sony's Spider-Man Universe . With the star clearly having plenty of potential in her acting style, one can hpe that this trend begins to turn towards the positive side of things.

Source: Pitch Meeting

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EU AI Act: first regulation on artificial intelligence

The use of artificial intelligence in the EU will be regulated by the AI Act, the world’s first comprehensive AI law. Find out how it will protect you.

A man faces a computer generated figure with programming language in the background

As part of its digital strategy , the EU wants to regulate artificial intelligence (AI) to ensure better conditions for the development and use of this innovative technology. AI can create many benefits , such as better healthcare; safer and cleaner transport; more efficient manufacturing; and cheaper and more sustainable energy.

In April 2021, the European Commission proposed the first EU regulatory framework for AI. It says that AI systems that can be used in different applications are analysed and classified according to the risk they pose to users. The different risk levels will mean more or less regulation. Once approved, these will be the world’s first rules on AI.

Learn more about what artificial intelligence is and how it is used

What Parliament wants in AI legislation

Parliament’s priority is to make sure that AI systems used in the EU are safe, transparent, traceable, non-discriminatory and environmentally friendly. AI systems should be overseen by people, rather than by automation, to prevent harmful outcomes.

Parliament also wants to establish a technology-neutral, uniform definition for AI that could be applied to future AI systems.

Learn more about Parliament’s work on AI and its vision for AI’s future

AI Act: different rules for different risk levels

The new rules establish obligations for providers and users depending on the level of risk from artificial intelligence. While many AI systems pose minimal risk, they need to be assessed.

Unacceptable risk

Unacceptable risk AI systems are systems considered a threat to people and will be banned. They include:

  • Cognitive behavioural manipulation of people or specific vulnerable groups: for example voice-activated toys that encourage dangerous behaviour in children
  • Social scoring: classifying people based on behaviour, socio-economic status or personal characteristics
  • Biometric identification and categorisation of people
  • Real-time and remote biometric identification systems, such as facial recognition

Some exceptions may be allowed for law enforcement purposes. “Real-time” remote biometric identification systems will be allowed in a limited number of serious cases, while “post” remote biometric identification systems, where identification occurs after a significant delay, will be allowed to prosecute serious crimes and only after court approval.

AI systems that negatively affect safety or fundamental rights will be considered high risk and will be divided into two categories:

1) AI systems that are used in products falling under the EU’s product safety legislation . This includes toys, aviation, cars, medical devices and lifts.

2) AI systems falling into specific areas that will have to be registered in an EU database:

  • Management and operation of critical infrastructure
  • Education and vocational training
  • Employment, worker management and access to self-employment
  • Access to and enjoyment of essential private services and public services and benefits
  • Law enforcement
  • Migration, asylum and border control management
  • Assistance in legal interpretation and application of the law.

All high-risk AI systems will be assessed before being put on the market and also throughout their lifecycle.

General purpose and generative AI

Generative AI, like ChatGPT, would have to comply with transparency requirements:

  • Disclosing that the content was generated by AI
  • Designing the model to prevent it from generating illegal content
  • Publishing summaries of copyrighted data used for training

High-impact general-purpose AI models that might pose systemic risk, such as the more advanced AI model GPT-4, would have to undergo thorough evaluations and any serious incidents would have to be reported to the European Commission.

Limited risk

Limited risk AI systems should comply with minimal transparency requirements that would allow users to make informed decisions. After interacting with the applications, the user can then decide whether they want to continue using it. Users should be made aware when they are interacting with AI. This includes AI systems that generate or manipulate image, audio or video content, for example deepfakes.

On December 9 2023, Parliament reached a provisional agreement with the Council on the AI act . The agreed text will now have to be formally adopted by both Parliament and Council to become EU law. Before all MEPs have their say on the agreement, Parliament’s internal market and civil liberties committees will vote on it.

More on the EU’s digital measures

  • Cryptocurrency dangers and the benefits of EU legislation
  • Fighting cybercrime: new EU cybersecurity laws explained
  • Boosting data sharing in the EU: what are the benefits?
  • EU Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act
  • Five ways the European Parliament wants to protect online gamers
  • Artificial Intelligence Act

Related articles

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  1. Digital art 2021 Art Summary by Armorwing

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    I don't think this ArtStationRecap2021 counts. Note I haven't used Artstation much in 2021 and the pro membership was a free trial for a handful of months only :'). Yeah I don't get much attention on this site since I'm not at "industry level" and I was told (in a well intentioned but super vague, unhelpful way) that my foundational art skills aren't enough ;P

  14. 2021 National ART Summary

    Of the 413,776 ART cycles started in 2021, a total of 246,087 (59%) were started with the intent to transfer at least one embryo. Among these 246,087 cycles, there were 202,121 embryo transfers. The other 167,689 cycles (41%) were banking cycles, where eggs or embryos were cryopreserved (frozen) and stored for potential future use.

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  18. ART Success Rates

    Based on CDC's 2021 Fertility Clinic Success Rates Report, approximately 238,126 patients had 413,776 ART cycles performed at 453 reporting clinics in the United States during 2021, resulting in 91,906 live births (deliveries of one or more living infants) and 97,128 live born infants. Of the 413,776 ART cycles performed in 2021, 167,689 were ...

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  23. Fifty Shades of Grey Pitch Meeting

    Fifty Shades of Grey 's box office success launched a trilogy but started an unfortunate trend for Dakota Johnson's career choices.; Johnson's critical acclaim pre- Fifty Shades trilogy contrasts starkly with more mixed reviews post-trilogy releases, like Madame Web. With potential to excel in acting, Johnson's recent Rotten Tomatoes scores indicate hope for a turnaround in her future roles.

  24. EU AI Act: first regulation on artificial intelligence

    In April 2021, the European Commission proposed the first EU regulatory framework for AI. It says that AI systems that can be used in different applications are analysed and classified according to the risk they pose to users. The different risk levels will mean more or less regulation. Once approved, these will be the world's first rules on AI.

  25. 2021 Summary of Art by 0laffson -- Fur Affinity [dot] net

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