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Adrian Piper

Main Art World Events of 2018 in 5 Minutes

Also 2018 is about to end and the time has come to summarize the main events and market trends that have emerged over the past twelve months.

What are they?

Among the absolute novelties is the entry of the creative expression generated by the artificial intelligence into the algorithmic art market. The Parisian collective “Obvious” has been noted with “Portrait of Edmond de Belamy”, a canvas sold at Christie’s auction for € 380,228. The work was created using a mathematical formula that at the end of a complex calculation gave the result on the canvas with a jet of ink. If art by definition is a creative, emotional, reflective expression, a person’s creation, and is appreciated for these reasons, it is to be seen whether this type of “artistic intervention” that excludes improvisation and human genius will find space in the market also in the long term.

This was the year of the 12th edition of Manifesta, a nomadic biennial that brought the whole art world to Palermo, a city little accustomed to contemporary art that has been able to enchant visitors with its traditions and historical-artistic beauties that sometimes they have even overshadowed the contemporary works of the event. The Biennale for this city was a great occasion also promoted by the presence of strong Palermo collectors, opening the doors of their homes for a few connoisseurs. Numerous international artists have participated in investigating the geopolitical, social and ecological phenomena of today with “The Planetary Garden. Cultivating coexistence “. In evidence the painful and current theme of migrants, a wound of today’s world.

Moving to the north, the new “Sound” section dedicated to contemporary sound investigations was widely accepted at Artissima Torino. The fair in general is always of a good standard and much appreciated, with the participation of many important foreign collectors.

Certainly it was a remarkable year for Alberto Giacometti, after the biggest retrospective proposed by the Tate Modern in 2017, this year a dialogue show with Francis Bacon equally exciting at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, at the Guggenheim in New York and Bilbao, at Musée Maillol in Paris, at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec.

After long waits in July, the Alberto Giacometti Foundation opened its doors to the new “Giacometti Institute” exhibition site in Paris, which houses an archive of almost 400 works including sculptures and paintings, 5000 drawings and the reconstruction of the artist’s studio. Amusing  is the historical-contemporary dialogue proposed by the installation artist Annette Messager on display in the Foundation. A winning choice by the artist, spouse of Christian Boltanski, who bears the same name as the wife and muse of Giacometti.

Mario Merz, another great Italian artist, is celebrated at the Hangar Bicocca in Milan with a retrospective dedicated to one of the most iconic artistic research, the “Igloos“, grandiose constructions that accompanied his activity from 1968 until his death. For the first time, gathered in a single space, the thirty great works constitute a sort of village and can be visited until November 24, 2019.

Adrian Piper is the first living artist in the history of MoMA to receive the entire sixth floor of the institution for a major retrospective that brought together installations, abstract compositions and videos. After the MoMA in New York the exhibition will be exhibited at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and at the Haus der Kunst in Munich. Piper, who received the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2015, has always focused on the major American social problems such as racism, class divisions and misogyny.

A very positive year also for Tomás Saraceno, protagonist of the 4th edition of “Cartes Blanches” at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris: visiting “On Air”, you find yourself in an immersive and dreamlike atmosphere in which Aerocene is revealed, an interdisciplinary artistic project that intertwines high mathematics, physics and chemistry using a team of highly specialized experts and figures. A truly extraordinary exhibition that highlights the profound preparation of the Argentine artist and his great originality with an absolutely different proposal than any other artist. The floating spheres of Saraceno also flew this year to the eighteenth-century Karlskirche church in Vienna and to Manifesta in Palermo, while at Art Basel Miami Beach the artist planted upside down umbrellas designed to capture solar energy on the beach. Listed in the list of the most influential artists of 2018 alongside great figures from the art world. Congratulations Tomás and best wishes for an even brighter 2019!

A name that surely always enjoys strong interest from art lovers is Jean Michel Basquiat. He was dedicated a grandiose retrospective at the Fondation Louis Vuitton Paris with the important collection of works from museums and private collections. Absolutely to see, ends January 14th! Also in London the artist had a major retrospective at the Barbican Gallery which ended last January, which brought together more than 100 works from museums and private collections.

A year full of awards also for one of the greatest figurative artists of the early twentieth century, Egon Schiele. 100 years after the death of the Austrian artist, the Louis Vuitton Foundation dedicated a retrospective to him, showing the 100 most significant works of his short life. The Leopold Museum in Vienna has also dedicated a beautiful exhibition to him until March 10, 2019, while the Royal Academy joins Gustav Klimt, another great Austrian master, in an unprecedented dialogue that sees their designs as protagonists.

The revolutionary acts have always characterized the art of Banksy who has still been talked about thanks to the unexpected performance that took place during the London auction of Sotheby’s. It was a real surprise for the bidders in the hall when they saw the work “Girl with Baloon” just sold for £ 1,042,000, self-destructing thanks to a mechanism hidden inside the frame that reduced the work into small strips. About a month after this coup de theater, a major exhibition on the artist was inaugurated at the Mudec in Milan, the first monographic exhibition hosted in an Italian public museum. “A Visual Protest” collects about 80 works and promises to be a public success as the retrospective on Frida Kahlo ended in June. Among unauthorized exhibitions, claims on social networks and the discovery of new works – the last appearance in Wales on the night of Tuesday 18 December – the Bristol artist does not miss a beat in terms of popularity.

Who are this year’s winners?

One of the most prestigious annual awards for an artist, the Turner Prize, was awarded to Charlotte Prodger who presented the video work “Bridgit” made with the mobile phone in which thoughts on mythology, landscape and gender identity are intertwined. The hallmark of her research is the very introspective character of the films, aimed at revealing the contradictions of our time. Prodger was also chosen to represent Scotland at the Venice Biennale in 2019.

At our house is Fabrizio Cotognini, the winner of the 19th edition of the Cairo Prize with the work “Aurora”, a reworking of two original 18th century engravings, on which the Marche artist applied gold leaves, white lead and pencil in a close dialogue between past and present. An interesting proposal precisely because in relation to the values ​​of ancient art, the artist uses precious materials and gives a second life to the milestones of our history.

This tendency to revive a sort of revision of the old masters is becoming increasingly popular and Cotognini is not the only artist to have fun with the ancient world dressed in contemporary clothes. Fabrizio Cotognini this year was the protagonist of a solo show at the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation in Turin as well as exhibitions in various galleries and exhibition spaces; he also participated in Manifesta12.

Simone Leigh, who has always been committed to combating the marginalization of black women in particular, is the winner of the Hugo Boss Prize that will take her to exhibit at the Guggenheim in NY in 2019. This year Leigh also had her first solo show at Luhring Augustine in New York, where a sculpture depicting a huge woman dominated almost entirely the gallery space.

Helen Cammock is the winner of the 7th edition of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women, a prestigious biennial award in collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery that promotes young British artists. Cammock, of Jamaican origins, has developed an interdisciplinary approach that has led her to a reflection on the emotionality of mourning, on the sound of the voice that becomes lamentation in an interpenetration between singing, music and writing. Thanks to the prize the artist had the opportunity to spend six months in six Italian cities – a sort of traveling artist’s residence – in order to create a new project that will be exhibited at the Whitechapel Gallery in 2019 and then included in the Maramotti Collection. In our country, Helen Cammock has conducted research in various fields such as the Baroque opera, poetry, dance to understand the expressive modalities of emotion in Italian culture.

There was a great rediscovery of ceramics, seen not only as a craft material but also as a precious support for contemporary art, which began to apply this precious material in sculptures of visionary or hyper-realistic forms. More and more galleries are in fact specializing in this direction and many artists use porcelain, ceramics and stoneware for their work. Bertozzi & Casoni were among the first to achieve great recognition by focusing on the various aspects of this extremely versatile material, but they are certainly not the only ones. Picasso, Fontana, Peter Voulkos are among the illustrious names of the past who have experimented with this technique; at the same time Hirst, Ai Weiwei, Takuro Kuwata and The Haas Brothers and many others are the emerging contemporaries. There are more and more fairs dedicated to ceramics.

The real “king” of 2018 is David Hockney, crowned as the most expensive living artist in the world thanks to the sale by Christie’s New York of “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)” of 1972, become the most expensive beaten work in the auction of an artist still alive. Sold for $ 90.3 million (about € 80 million), five years later it exceeded Jeff Koons’ previous record with the 1994 work “Orange Balloon Dog” sold in 2013 for $ 58.4 million. Accomplices of the great success were the recent retrospectives dedicated to Hockney, one of which was held at the Metropolitan in New York in addition to that of the Pompidou Center. Gerhard Richter is still on the podium, one of the most important European artists of our time, very shy and equally critical of today’s market dynamics.

The trend of the auctions has confirmed high and stable quotations for some young artists such as Adrian Ghenie, Avery Singer, Nicolas Party, Jonas Wood. The most popular are Basquiat, Peter Doig, Rudolf Stingel, George Condo, Antony Gormley. Christopher Wool, Mark Bradford, Richard Prince, Tauba Auerbach, Jenny Saville and Kerry James Marshall also enjoyed great recognition thanks to various exhibitions and the activity of gallery owner David Zwirner. Also Kaws, who surprises us with his always entertaining works, for some time now has been making large collections at auction, followed by Shepard Fairey which records a very high number of lots sold at auction, but for the latter we must consider that 90% of these are mostly prints that do not exceed $ 1,000.

If you look at our local art, in addition to the historicized names, Maria Lai, Carol Rama and Leoncillo stand out, who are experiencing a rediscovery by collectors, including foreigners, as evidenced by the excellent recent results at auction. If 2017 ended with a very strong interest in the Italian conceptual art of 50s and 60s, this year there was a greater appreciation for contemporary art and with the desire to bet on names that are still of little trend.

A steady rise in appreciation towards the African art has emerged; the interest rising for a new, interesting and different market is a bit like it was a decade ago for contemporary Chinese art. Several factors contributed to the growth of this sector, including the interest of great collectors such as Jean Pigozzi, some important exhibitions and the opening of museums of contemporary African art such as the Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town and also galleries that have specialized in this area. Fairs like “1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair” in London and “AKAA – Also Known As Africa” ​​in Paris did the rest, making contemporary African art known to the general public. Some established African artists with very high prices are Kerry James Marshall, El Anatsui, Julie Mehretu, Chérie Samba.

The Chinese market, while remaining in second place as a global player, is a bit suffering although there are interesting proposals as evidenced by the prices reached by established artists such as Zeng Fanzhi, Ai Weiwei and Zhou Chunya.

Some women artists who have enjoyed little consideration by critics and the public are experiencing an important reassessment. Frieze London moved towards this direction by introducing “Social Works”, a section dedicated to eight artists active between the 80s and 90s who challenged the art market and who stood out for their strong political and social commitment. Jenny Saville redeems women by becoming the most expensive female artist in the world thanks to the result of “Propped”, (work of 1992) sold for £ 9.5 million. May this strong wave of feminism that pervades the entire art world be also due to the #MeeToo movement?

What do the researchers say?

From the analyses of the past year it seems that the feminist reflections have sprung up also thanks to #MeeToo, placed third in the ranking “Power 100 most influential people in the contemporary artworld 2018”. A year after the Weinstein scandal, questions are still being asked about the repercussions and how this movement has also influenced the world of art. In the first place of the ranking we obviously find the gallerist David Zwirner, elected the most influential man in the art world, while the silver medal goes to the artist Kerry James Marshall, result perhaps also due to the great results at auction as for “Past Times” of 1997 at $ 21.1 million.

There is a lot of talk about the increasingly predominant role of guarantees in auctions all over the world, a policy that helps auctions attract some of the best works.

According to estimates, this year the number of guaranteed lots has increased by 53% and guarantees are becoming a reference point for the value of a work. To be totally dependent on it is the high end of the market, which sees the use of these increasingly frequent, which could be a sign of short-term financial speculation.

Will the forecast of the Sotheby’s CEO Tad Smith be true, which predicted that the art market in 2019 will be more subdued than at the beginning of 2018? The assumption could be supported by the slight contraction in sales recorded in postwar and contemporary art auctions.

There is great anticipation for the opening in January of ICA Milan, the first Italian institute for contemporary art that follows the London model established in 1946. Private non-profit foundation, the exhibition center will be directed by Alberto Salvadori which aims to create a contemporary arts laboratory in which international artists will create site-specific works accompanied by a vast interdisciplinary program that will involve the public. Milan reaffirms itself as the Italian city most attentive to the contemporary art, and the Porta Romana district, with the presence of ICA, the Prada Foundation and a large redevelopment project, will be even richer in cultural initiatives.

To steal the scepter of queen of the contemporary, Venice will take care of the 58th Biennale of Art and the curiosity about the Italian Pavilion curated by Milovan Farronato will grow more and more, presenting the works of Enrico David, Liliana Moro and Chiara Fumai.

In short, it was a very interesting year and full of unexpected events.

We hope that 2019 is even more sparkling and dynamic, we’ll see!

Happy New Year to all!!!

“The shades of the art rainbow are endless: choose your favorite!”