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BETWEEN PIXELS AND BRUSHES. HOW WAS 2021 FOR THE WORLD OF ART??

By December 26, 2021January 13th, 2022No Comments

This year, despite the inconvenience due to the long closures of galleries, museums, fairs, limited travel and many uncertainties about the future, we still breathed an air of transition and change, experimented with new ways of enjoying art and the long-awaited sociality.

Strong interest in emerging artists,female artists, in new technologies and social and environmental issues. But above all, the new trend is the various types of digital sales that have brought about change and experimentation in collecting.

And so, it seems to us to witness a historical moment, the birth of a new form of art:

NFT or non-fungible token.

These sales have turned the spotlight on the cryptoart market, leading to a real boom in NFTs, works encrypted and authenticated through blockchain technology. But the real breakthrough for the sales of this new art form was the moment of the transition from the only form of payment cryptocurrency to also a credit card, allowing a wider audience to easily purchase these digital creations.

The fashion of NFTs has made it possible to expand the typology of art buyers also involving younger generations of collectors and/or technology experts.

Among the surprises of 2021, Beeple – artist who earned the top spot on Art Review Power 100 and became the third living artist with the highest top record after Jeff Koons and David Hockney.

The work “Everydays: The First 5,000 Days” at Christie’s online auction – the first international auction house to offer an NFT work – reached a record figure of $ 69.3 million.

It is not his only work auctioned: on November 9 at Christie’s “Human One” – a hybrid sculpture composed of LED screens and images that evolve over time – it reached $ 28.9 million.

Beeple, “Human One”

 

In addition to Beeple, several artists have sold works on blockchain for millions of dollars.

CryptoPunks, an NFT project created by Larva Labs, is an art collection of 10,000 images and was one of the first in circulation.

These unique digital characters were sold in May at Christie’s for $ 14.5 million and achieved total annual sales of $ 29 million.

CryptoPunks 58, 603, 768, three of nine works sold as a single NFT for $ 16,962,500 on May 11, 2021 at Christie’s NY

 

The NFTs of the Bored Apes Yacht Club series on the Ethereum platform were also one of the biggest hits of cryptoart. In September, the two Bored Apes collections auctioned at NFT organized by Sotheby’s and comprising 101 pieces each generated $ 24.39 and $ 1.83 million respectively.

 

Bored Apes Yacht Club

This new art modality could also represent an important bridge between present and past as in the case of the Uffizi Museum, which offered the contemporary market the exclusive possession of a masterpiece from their collection.

The digital version of Michelangelo’s Tondo Doni was created thanks to the patent of the Italian company Cinello (sold for € 240,000), which will also sell other works by great masters such as Leonardo, Caravaggio and Titian.

A completely different thing compared to the very high amounts paid for the purchase of coloured monkeys.

 

YOUNG EMERGENT ARTISTS:

Another very strong trend of 2021 was the great appreciation of emerging tallents, names that are not yet very well known but in auctions are reaching prices of historically established artists.

One of them is Flora Yukhnovich (1990) who reached £ 2 million at Sotheby’s London auction last October 14th. But the list of young stars – many female – is long: among them Avery Singer, who’s work was sold for $ 4 million, Christina Quarles (1985), Shara Hughes (1981) with her auction record $ 1,482,000, also Jadé Fadojutimi (1993) $ 877,000, Ewa Juszkiewicz $ 730,800… to name a few of the hot names this year.

Flora Yukhnovich, “I’ll Have What She’s Having”, 2020

Oil on linen, 169 x 220 cm

Christina Quarles, “Common Ground (Worlds Apart, Miles Away) », 2016

Acrylic on canvas, 127 x 101 cm

 

Avery Singer, “Untitled”, 2018

Acrylic on canvas, 216 x 241 cm

 

Shara Hughes, « Inside Outside », 2018.

Oil and acrylic on canvas, 198 x 167.5 cm

 

OTHER INTERESTING RECORDS:

A new record was in the air for Banksy, who with “Love is in the Bin” reached £ 18.5 million at Sotheby’s London auction in October.

The work, which became a performance – originally “Girl with Balloon” – self-destroyed shortly after it was sold for £ 1.1 million at Sotheby’s auction in 2018.

Record for Frida Kahlo self-portrait “Diego y yo” (1949) sold for $ 35.8 million during the Modern Evening Sale at Sotheby’s New York.

A figure that also marks the absolute record for a Latin American artist and ranks second for the most expensive work sold at auction by a female artist.

Georgia O’Keeffe has been on the podium since 2014 with “Jimson weed/White flower no.1”, sold for $ 44.4 million again at Sotheby’s New York.

 

Frida Kahlo, “Diego y yo”, 1949

Oil on canvas, 30 x 22,4 cm

 

The sale of the Macklowe Collection proposed by Sotheby’s, one of the most important American private collections auctioned following the divorce of the two spouses, will certainly remain in history.

White gloves for the 35 works by European and American masters of the 20th century and a New York evening Sale that marked the highest sales record ever in the history of Sotheby’s: $ 676.1 million.

 

Jackson Pollock, “Number 17”, 1951

Enamel on canvas, 148,6 x 148,6 cm

 

Agnes Martin, “Untitled #44”, 1974

Acrylic on canvas, 182,9 x 182,9 cm

 

Mark Rothko, “No.7”, 1951

Oil on canvas, 240,7 x 138,7 cm

 

FOR AUCTION HOUSES YEAR 2021 WAS WONDERFUL:

Sotheby’s in 2021 achieved a record turnover of $ 7.3 billion, the highest in 277 years of business.

There are rumors that Patrick Drahi is considering an initial public offering (IPO) for the auction house, a move that would mark the company’s return to the stock market less than three years after the magnate bought it for about $ 3.7 billion.

Also good year for Christie’s, which reached $ 7.1 billion – the highest amount in the last 5 years.

Phillips during the November auctions in New York Phillips scored the highest total in its history, almost $ 140 million, thanks to young artists.

Surely these results were favored by the extraordinary sale of the Macklowe collection, made up of works that undoubtedly have an indisputable value, but also by the growing popularity of NFTs, whose value I believe should be revised and adjusted, at least for certain works.

 

LEADING MARKETS?

Hong Kong, at the centre of an increasingly solid and active Asian market, has established itself as the second city in the world for contemporary art after New York, playing a role of accelerator for the most important young artists and for the promotion of art contemporary and ultra-contemporary.

Seoul is also booming, the debut of Frieze Seoul in September 2022 and the recent opening of many important international galleries such as König, Pace, Perrotin, Thaddaeus Ropac, Gladstone and Lehmann Maupin will give even more impetus to the South Korean art market.

Another attractive factor for growth is the subsidized tax regime: Seoul does not charge import taxes on art and there is no sales tax on works worth less than $ 55,000.

All elements that will make Seoul more and more a protagonist of the market.

 

MY FAVORITE EXHIBITIONS OF 2021:

« Elles font l’abstraction », Centre Pompidou. Curator Christine Macel

Beautiful retrospective on the contribution of women in abstract art through 106 artists and more than 500 works, from 1860 to the 1980s.

In addition to the historicized names, the exhibition also enhanced the work of little-known artists by revealing contexts, individual and group research, including decorative arts, photography, cinema and dance.

Among the artists on show: Louise Bourgeois, Rosemarie Castoro, Georgiana Houghton, Verena Loewensberg, Helen Frankenthaler, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Saloua Raouda Choucair, Regina Cassolo Bracchi, Dadamaino, Carla Accardi, Giannina Censi and many, many others.

Magnificent exhibition!

Lynda Benglis during a performance, 1970

 

Joan Mitchell, “Mephisto”, 1958

 

Véra Pagava, “La Grande Ville », 1959

 

Paola Pivi, “25.000 Covid jokes (It’s not a joke)”

Paola Pivi collected 25,000 jokes from different countries, creating an incredible mosaic of images and words at the Chapelle de la Vieille Charité in Marseille.

Brilliant idea of tragicomic testimony of the surreal times of lock-down, in the light and pleasant style of Pivi.

 

“Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped”, Christo e Jeanne-Claude

25,000 square meters of silver fabric covered the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, completing the last project of the artist who passed away in 2020, a dream that Christo pursued for 60 years.

This installation certainly strengthened the market of the Bulgarian artist couple even more.

 

Domenico Gnoli – Fondazione Prada, Milano, visible until 2/27/2022

A great retrospective – the latest project conceived by Germano Celant – celebrating the Roman artist who died prematurely.

The intense and enigmatic works of Gnoli show the beauty and poetry of everyday objects and seem to want to reveal the secret of things to us, well, as they say: “the devil is in the details.

A truly spectacular exhibition.

 

“Shine” Jeff Koons – Palazzo Strozzi, Florence

Palazzo Strozzi offers us a beautiful journey into the world of Jeff Koons with a retrospective that brings a selection of the most famous works of the American artist to Florence. Curated by Arturo Galansino and Joachim Pissarro.

As always Galansino manages to entertain and surprise us with high-level exhibitions, with an educational imprint, easy to understand for all age groups. Well done!

 

Breath Ghosts Blind – Maurizio Cattelan, curated by Roberta Tenconi and Vicente Todolì, until February 20, 2022.

“There was no one in Italy able to compete with Anselm Kiefer. No one, among his contemporaries, has such a monumental vision.” These are the words of Carlo Vanoni to describe “Breath Ghosts Blind”, a monographic by Maurizio Cattelan at Hangar Bicocca.

A site-specific project that addresses issues such as the fragility of life, memory and the sense of loss.

The only sin is to see pigeons as a metaphor for the third time, renamed from “Tourists” 1997 to “Others” 2021, then “Ghosts” 2021….

But anyway, Cattelan rocks.

 

ANNE IMHOF, “Nature Mortes” Palais de Tokyo, Paris

Anne Imhof has created an all-encompassing and polyphonic work by blending space and bodies, music and painting.

Inside the structure of the Palais de Tokyo, the artist has inserted a labyrinth of glass walls that have fragmented the space and generated new perspectives between paintings, installations, drawings, video, audio and sculptures, inviting 30 artists of great importance in dialog to each other.

A very powerful exhibition!

 

Stop Painting – Fondazione Prada, Venice.

Everyone should have seen this exhibition conceived by artist Peter Fischli, a profound reflection on some fundamental moments in the history of art over the past 150 years.

Starting from the invention of photography, the project highlights 5 radical breaks – between technological and social factors – which led to the rejection or reinvention of painting.

 

NEW TRENDS/ AWARDED IN 2021:

In addition to the re-evaluation of female artists and African American artists – which has already been taking place for some years – another trend that is taking shape concerns the artistic collectives, increasingly present in the contemporary art scene even in prestigious roles.

This is the case of the Indonesians Ruangrupa, who next year will curate the 15th edition of Documenta in Kassel, placed in 3rd place in the ranking of Art Review Power 100.

They are not the only ones present in the ranking: the indigenous Australians Karrabing Film Collective appear in 12th place and Forensic Architecture in 19th place.

 

CHANEL NEXT PRIZE- It is a new international award founded by the French maison to promote and support emerging talents, to experiment with new forms of artistic creation and encourage fluidity between different forms of art.

The winners – representing 11 countries and disciplines spanning design, cinema and visual arts – are: Jung Jae-il, Keiken, Lual Mayen, Marlene Monteiro Freitas, Rungano Nyoni, Precious Okoyomon, Marie Schleef, Botis Seva, Wang Bing, Eduardo Williams.

Each will receive a prize of € 100,000 and the support of experts selected by the brand.

Chanel will also collaborate on the programming of exhibitions with various institutions such as the Center Pompidou, the Underground Museum in Los Angeles and the recently opened GES-2 in Moscow.

PHOTO: Precious Okoyomon, New York-based artist and poet, who won the 2021 Frieze Artist Award. He is known for his immersive installations examining the natural world and its ties to racial events.

 

TURNER PRIZEIt is the first edition of the  Turner Prize to not include single artists but only collectives.

The winners – Array Collective – are a group of Belfast artists and the first Northern Ireland artists to win the prestigious award.

The work, an Irish pub reconstructed in the gallery spaces, reflects on the theme of inclusiveness without barriers or distinctions.

 

PRIX MARCEL DUCHAMP- Lili Reynaud-Dewar won the 21º Prix Marcel Duchamp 2021 with a project dedicated to Pier Paolo Pasolini focused on the relationship between the body and politics.

 

MAXXI BULGARI PRIZE- awarded to Tomaso De Luca with the work “A Week’s Notice”, a video installation that stood out for its ethical, social and political involvement.

This year, for the first time, all three works by the finalists (Giulia Cenci, Renato Leotta) have been acquired and become part of the contemporary art collection of the Maxxi Museum in Rome.

 

Despite the uncertain year, there have been several openings of new art centres and museums:

New life for the Paris Bourse, which since May hosts a new contemporary art museum and the Francois Pinault collection – more than 10,000 works by around 350 artists from all over the world.

Many exhibitions and on-site projects are scheduled in the building restored by Tadao Ando, which has already become an essential destination for art lovers.

M+

Open in November, the M + Museum in Hong Kong is the largest centre for contemporary art in the Asian area, a cultural institution that reflects the international identity of the territory on which it stands.

The M + collection is interdisciplinary and, in its spaces, includes 33 galleries, 3 cinemas, a media library, a hanging garden and a LED facade for the projection of moving images that are also visible from the seafront.

There was no lack of controversy over possible censorship by the Chinese authorities, which in 2020 introduced very strict laws on national security, significantly limiting some fundamental freedoms.

GES-2 MOSCOW

Renzo Piano’s project has revived an old power plant, transforming it into the new headquarters of the V-A-C Foundation, an institution of contemporary art founded by the Russian oligarch Leonid Mikhelson.

Open in December, this multidisciplinary space takes up the idea of the House of Culture and houses cinemas, concert halls, areas for workshops and exhibition halls, all in the name of experimentation.

ACADEMY MUSEUM OF MOTION PICTURES

Different continent, same architect: Renzo Piano has also signed up in Los Angeles for the largest museum in the world dedicated to cinema, a journey to discover the films and Hollywood stars who have made history.

 

DEPOT BOIJMANS VAN BEUNINGEN

In Rotterdam, the first art depot in the world opens its doors to the public, for those curious to know what is hidden “behind the scenes”, in museum warehouses and restoration laboratories.

Curiosity: the building has 5 different climatic zones and the works are not exhibited by age or style but for conservation needs.

 

MUNCH MUSEUM

The Munch Museum has opened in Oslo, which in addition to the Master’s masterpieces will also host various projects and exhibitions dedicated to contemporary artists.

Tracey Emin’s solo exhibition inaugurated the museum with a collection of works created by the English artist over the last decade, in dialogue with some works by Edvard Munch.che oltre ai capolavori del Maestro ospiterà anche diversi progetti e mostre dedicate ad artisti contemporanei.

 

ARTE IN NUVOLA

In Italy, in addition to the historic fairs that have returned to the public – Miart, Miart Photo Fair, Artissima – after several postponements, a new modern and contemporary art fair has been inaugurated in Rome, “Arte in Nuvola”, a new impetus for the restart of the art in our country.

 

Who is no more…

Etel Adnan, the great Lebanese essayist, poet and only in recent years also acclaimed artist passed away last November ‘21′.

Leading voice of Arab-American culture, Adnan has created works that cross different cultures and disciplines, moving with fluidity between writing and art.

Her geometric-abstract paintings of landscapes (sunsets, mountains, valley) made with a small knife will remain unmistakable, always in small dimensions.

 

Lawrence Weiner, one of the greatest exponents of conceptual art, left us in December / recently.

The artist began to create large installations starting from the 60s and has always focused on the use of words and their meaning, on the interpretation and perception of the work by the observer.

 

Richard Rogers, pioneer of the high-tech movement, architect of the Millennium Dome in London and of the Centre Pompidou together with Renzo Piano, passed away on 18 December.

 

In 2021 one of the best-known names in Italian photography has left us.

Giovanni Gastel, in addition to his commitment to the world of fashion, has carried out his own artistic research which culminated in 1997 with the personal exhibition at the Milan Triennale curated by Germano Celant.

In 2020 the Maxxi in Rome dedicated an exhibition to his famous portraits, 200 photographs of personalities from the world of culture, art, fashion but also politics, such as the famous portrait of Barack Obama.

A great master and inspiring person.

Great example of the world of art merging with fashion.

 

LOOKING FORWARD:

2022 is the year of the 59th Venice Biennial, and Italy will be represented by Gian Maria Tosatti.

It is the first time that a single artist will compete with the space of the pavilion and it is the first time that the Biennale will be led by a female curator, Cecilia Alemani.

 

A part that there will be many interesting art appointments. Follow me to stay up to date!

 

So summing up:

There is a lot of effervescence in the air, new forms of art, Big buyers, many new openings, auctions stronger than ever, focusing on new trends.

Women, BIPOC, emergents and NFT are greatly appreciated. It is not yet clear how and if they will position themselves in the art world in the future, but this year’s digital “superstars” have already signed contracts with companies such as UTA and other entertainment agencies.

Who knows what awaits us in 2022, certainly the world of art is becoming more and more fun.

Have a good year!

 

* BIPOC: acronym taken from the English language which means “Black, Indigenous, & People of Color Movement”

 

“The Shades Of The Art Rainbow Are Endless: Choose Your Favorite!”