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banksy Archivi - Linda Bajàre

2019 – What a year!?

Without a doubt, 2019 will be remembered as a year of transition.

A year full of political and financial uncertainties which consequently also reflected on the art market.

Although the art world was confident, not anticipating major changes in Europe’s so-called “big apple” – London – Brexit led to the closure of some galleries and the opening of their headquarters from London to Paris, to name some of them: – White Cube, David Zwirner, Pace Gallery.

The year was enriched by the 58th Venice Biennale curated by Ralph Rugoff “May You Live in Interesting Times” which – as the title suggests – proved to be a true reflection of the climate of great changes we are experiencing, with works focused on current themes concerning international politics, environmental emergency and social problems such as the issue of migrants, the feminist movement, racial and gender equality.

On the occasion of the Biennale, the city’s foundations and museums have prepared exceptional exhibitions such as the retrospective on Jannis Kounellis at the Prada Foundation, Arshile Gorky at Ca’ Pesaro, the monograph on Georg Baselitz at the Academy Galleries, Luc Tuymans at Palazzo Grassi, Pino Pascali at Palazzo Cavanis and Alberto Burri at the Cini Foundation.

With a witty appearance the street artist Banksy, not officially invited to exhibit but also inevitable figure that this year has caused a lot of talk about himself, was also noted.

In addition to this performance followed by a mural in the Dorsoduro district, Banksy was able to anticipate and ride the Brexit wave with the work “Devolved Parliament“, strategically put up for sale by Sotheby’s on the occasion of the last London auctions prior to the exit of the Great Britain from the EU, marking the record for the artist with 11.1 million euros.

Always on time on occasions, this time anticipating Christmas, the artist offers his version of Santa Claus on a wall in Birmingham, rendering the tragic beauty of the holidays into flesh and blood.

Instead, Maurizio Cattelan, on the occasion of Art Basel Miami – after 15 years of absence – presented his new sculpture “Comedian“.

The edible banana attached to the wall with adhesive tape and priced at 120,000-150,000 $, was a winning strategic move to get the whole world talking about it, and it is clear that the old concept of the value we attribute to things is reconfirmed to be still very much popular.

Cattelan had leapt to the headlines already in September when his work “America“, a massive gold toilet, was stolen during his recent solo show at Blenheim Palace, Oxford.

2019 was a year characterized by very important retrospectives dedicated to great artists, such as Olafur Eliasson at the Tate Modern in London, Antony Gormley at the Royal Academy, Mario Merz and Cerith Wyn Evans at the Hangar Bicocca in Milan, the aforementioned Maurizio Cattelan at Blenheim Palace in Oxford, Lucio Fontana at the Metropolitan Museum in New York and many others.

The result of 4 years of work, with almost 80 works on display, I would say that the exhibition of the year was “The Young Picasso – Blue and Pink Periods” at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, where even the prestigious monograph on Rudolf Stingel had a huge feedback.

In international auctions the climate of uncertainty was recorded in the appearance of a smaller number of works valued above 20 million dollars, perhaps a symptom of a period of little confidence.

Despite this the general results were quite positive again this year, so much so that we have witnessed excellent records, including Jeff Koons who has reconfirmed himself as the most paid living artist in the world with the “Rabbit“, a sculpture of 1986, sold at auction in May by Christie’s New York for 91.1 million dollars.

It was a year of great changes for the historic Sotheby’s auction house – founded in 1744 – which passed into private hands following the sale last June: entrepreneur and collector Patrick Drahi bought the giant of the sector for 3, 7 billion dollars.

The main international trade fairs have registered excellent sales and the recently concluded Art Basel Miami, featuring a positive climate, seems to be no less so.

Similar to it, Frieze London has also enjoyed excellent feedback from the public and buyers, so much so that in the climate of uncertainty many have called it a bubble of happiness.

Also Fiac in Paris saw a great success both in sales and in public, a result obtained also thanks to the first benefits of the shift of interests.

The Turner Prize – established in 1984 – was for the first time assigned to all four finalists, Lawrence Abu Hamdam, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo and Tai Shani.

The innovative proposal came precisely from the artists through a letter to the jury explaining that at such a difficult time, their choice to present themselves as a collective is a symbolic gesture in the name of sharing and solidarity, in art as in society.

Technology, including new startups, art created by artificial intelligences or Cryptoart – a market that involves only digital works of art to be purchased with digital currency is also playing an increasingly important role in the art world.

We are in the era of interactive images and many museums are moving to accommodate new methods of using and learning. In Italy, the M9 in Mestre and the MAV in Ercolano are an example, the new generation museums that use advanced technologies and immersive installations.

The desire to live a 360° cultural experience is increasingly leading to the creation of virtual tours in many cities of art, the most recent promoted in Milan on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci.

In recent years, online art sales have shown considerable growth (in double figures) and have produced revenues of about $ 6 billion, a sign that the art market – very traditional in structure and dynamics – is opening up more and more to new languages.

I imagine that the future of art will reserve us many beautiful surprises and also in 2020 there will be fun!

 

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

Do you have a sense of humor?

Maurizio Cattelan image

 

-Part II-

If you are reading this article it means that you like ironic art and that you enjoyed reading the first part we dedicated to this particular aspect of art.
As we have seen, starting from Pop Art, fun and satire begin to play a greater role in the world of contemporary art. More and more cutting edge, irony does not spare anyone or anything and becomes an effective tool able to convey the author’s message in a more incisive way.

Banksy (Bristol 1974), an artist and writer who is one of the greatest exponents of Street Art, knows this very well. The secret identity is a moral and aesthetic choice that emphasizes its non-belonging to the system and a further way of fighting it: the use of stencils, previously prepared in the studio, allows it a rapid realization that is well suited to its sudden incursions in the nightlife of public spaces without ever having been discovered, a trick that is part of his “joke”.

Direct communication and the use of simple and incisive language reach and interact with a very large number of people belonging to different classes and ages.
His is an art of protest towards current politics, culture, ethical and social issues, which is expressed through a sharp satire: often at the limit of modesty, his works deal with “uncomfortable” and often unspoken subjects, as in the case of “Snorting Copper”, graffiti appeared on a London wall in 2006 that depicts a policeman making a cocaine line.

On other occasions, Banksy is the spokesperson for the counterculture and leads a revolt against the large multinational companies that manage and govern most of the planet with the sole purpose of enriching themselves to the detriment of the weakest.
The Bristol artist reworked advertising images and icons of our time as an act of social denunciation, often drawing from the English punk aesthetic of the ’70s, as in the case of works that reproduce the portraits of Queen Elizabeth or Winston Churchill in an ironic and desecrating way.
His political commitment, always very strong, led him to take a position on the Palestinian question, and in 2005 he made some stencils on the dividing wall in the West Bank. Its presence in such an oppressed and delicate area culminated with the opening in 2017 of the Walled Off Hotel in Palestine, a hotel that offers a view right towards the Wall.

His interventions did not spare even the works of the great masters of the past and the denunciation against consumerism makes its appearance in “Japanese Bridge” (1899), one of the most famous works of Claude Monet: the charm of the garden of Giverny is troubled by abandoned shopping carts and reflective signs (“Show Me the Monet”, 2005).

Not only famous persons and artworks have found place in his paintings, but also animals – often highly symbolic – like monkeys and rats: the latter are among his favorite objects, as they are animals living in shadow, rejected by society and therefore perfect metaphor that represents the “excluded”.
Banksy was able to collect and re-elaborate the witness left by Keith Haring, to whom he makes clear and direct references, especially in “Choose your Weapon” (2005), a work that alludes to the “Barking Dogs” of an American artist.

We must not forget the great hit at the Sotheby’s London auction in October 2018, when “Girl with Balloon” (2006) destroyed itself under the incredulous eyes of those present, becoming the first art action ever made during an art auction. If you think that those who bought it at £ 1,042,000 (including interest) found themselves with nothing in their hands you are wrong, because I am sure that when it comes back to market, the work will have acquired a new charm and extraordinary value.

The last intervention by Banksy that made much talk was his appearance in Venice during the opening of the Biennale in the guise of a street vendor, in strong controversy with the question of the cumbersome and annoying presence of cruise ships, an apparition followed from the murals in the Dorsoduro district.
By the way in Venice, this year the Serenissima risked not being included in the list of UNESCO Heritage due to the out-of-control tourism and the problem of large ships that continue to furrow the waters of the lagoon; among other things, last June 2, a cruise ship clashed against a tourist boat re-igniting the controversy.

Banksy’s humor centered the problem, anticipating the episode almost like a prophet.

Banksy, “Snorting Copper”
Banksy, “Snorting Copper”, Londra 2006
Graffito
Banksy Barcode
Banksy, “Barcode”, 2004
Serigrafy
Banksy, Happy Choppers
Banksy, “Happy Choppers”, 2003
Serigrafy

Previously mentioned, another exponent of street art is Keith Haring (USA 1958 – 1990), one of the greatest promoters of the concept of art within everyone’s reach in the effervescent New York of the 80s, when he turned the entire city into an immense canvas for painting.

The choice to create works in the urban context is not only a desire to express themselves beyond the traditional artistic channels, but embraces the symbolic meaning of democratic art and the international success of his works has contributed to the spread of art forms in public spaces.

Colorful, simple and direct, his works can be read both at a more superficial level as playful and childish images, and at a further level of deeper meanings using a biting humor, aimed at raising public awareness very delicately towards some social issues.
In addition to being a highly acclaimed artist, Haring was also an entrepreneur for himself creating a brand of sweatshirts, t-shirts and gadgets offered at his Pop Shop in New York, further pushing him towards global visibility.

Keith Haring
Keith Haring, “Ignorance = Fear”, 1989
Litografia
Keith Haring Andy Mouse
Keith Haring, « Andy Mouse », 1986
Serigrafy

Provocative and captivating, Christopher Wool (Chicago 1955) has always focused on the immediacy and irony of double meanings, focusing in particular on the visual representation of the language using different styles and using different mediums such as screen printing, stencil, spray paint and paint.

His works composed of large black letters on a white background aim to reflect on the current tensions of society and become a means of criticizing the aesthetics of traditional artistic representation: sharp word plays, ironic phrases and double meanings are a parody of the archetypes of academic painting.

Wool began working on canvases composed of words and phrases in the 1980s, a period in which the conceptual movement boycotted painting and a new generation of artists – including Jean-Michael Basquiat and Richard Prince – imposed itself on the international scene.

The artist has also suffered a strong influence from the action painting of Jackson Pollock regarding the procedural practice of the creation of the works, but during the 90s he elects the serigraphy as a preferred technique, which he still uses. The casual and highly intuitive style is reflected on the canvas in smudges, overprints and “imperfections” that combine to make his works unique.

In one of his most famous series, “Black Book Paintings” (1989-1990), the words are vertically divided on three levels and the concept, while remaining comprehensible in its entirety, is enriched with second meanings.

Christopher Wool Assassin
Christopher Wool, “Assassin”, 1989
Serigrafy
Christopher Wool If You
Christopher Wool, “If You”, 1992
Enamel on aluminum
Christopher Wool
Christopher Wool, “Untitled”, 2005
Enamel on aluminum

Richard Prince (Panama 1949), a painter and photographer, has also reflected on language and concepts. Since 1977 he has established himself as one of the pioneers of appropriation in contemporary art and his most famous reworking is the famous “Cowboys” series ( 1980-1992), in which he re-photographed the advertising campaign of a famous cigarette brand. The controversial, highly ironic, conceptual work is a criticism of the American lifestyle and the power that advertising images have on the human mind. As well as the nurses of the “Nurse” series (2003), taken from the covers of C series economic novels, they have something seductive but also very disturbing.

Richard Prince has therefore always caused controversy over issues related to intellectual property and also the recent series “New Portraits” (2015), in which each piece is an image taken by Instagram, investigates today’s problems related to privacy and control we have over ourselves and the information we consciously put on the net.

These shots, borrowed from some of his followers, magnified and resold at around $ 100,000 have created discontent resulting in lawsuits, and the funny thing is it’s not the first time the artist gets in trouble for violation of copyright, as for example already in 2013 the practice of the ready-made had brought him to court against the photographer Patrick Cariou, a case later won by Prince.
But it does not end here: even recently he has had problems with two professional photographers, Dennis Morris and Donald Graham, as well as with his former Gagosian gallery, but in this case the reasons for the breakup are not known.

The most amusing and light-hearted works remain his jokes, which since the mid-80s have challenged the traditional canons of the era, playing on the idea of creating a work of art that is actually the representation of a joke. His lines transposed on canvases with bright and cheerful colors, however, are much more than carefree sentences, as they reveal tensions often buried under the surface of social interactions.

These sentences, with their almost advertising and didactic rendering, are part of a broader research by the artist, which aims to redefine the concepts of paternity and aura of the work of art through a process of appropriation of images taken from the mass media , from advertising and entertainment typical of the 70s.
Prince uses different mediums such as drawings, installations, paintings and photographs that highlight how modern icons and more generally American identity have been specifically designed to encourage consumerism.

Richard Prince
Richard Prince, «Untitled», 1995
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
Richard Prince
Richard Prince, “Untitled (Fireman joke)», 1987
Acrylic on canvas

Instead George Condo (USA 1957) uses an imaginative language that pays homage to the traditional portraiture of the great European masters of the past, reworked and mixed with icons of contemporary American culture as characters from comics and cartoons: the fusion between the two aesthetic canons creates a mirror of contemporary social customs.

It is from the 1980s that Condo began to include in his works a mix of humor, irony and veneration towards artists such as Rembrandt, Goya, Caravaggio, Mirò, Picasso – embracing the entire spectrum of European and American art.

The artist’s eclectic style is characterized by dynamic figures, bright colors that incorporate surreal and expressionist elements, from Pop Art to Disney characters: this is how the grotesque paintings populated by bizarre characters characterized by bulging eyes, abstract bodies, prominent cheeks and biting mouths are born, which reflect the hysteria and paranoia of today’s society.

The artist coined the term “Artificial Realism” to describe his work, which creates a decomposition of reality then reconstructed according to the author’s personal order, a sort of psychological cubism that aims to describe the different moods of his characters. The reference to Picasso is not accidental: at the age of 13, George Condo sees a work by the Spanish artist published in a newspaper and from that moment it will become one of his greatest sources of inspiration.

In recent years, the American artist is very much appreciated by the market who amuses the great connoisseurs of art, becoming one of the most requested artists also as regards investments.

George Condo
George Condo, “Little Ricky”, 2004
Oil on canvas
George Condo
George Condo, image from Art Basel 2019

Another artist who revisits icons of art is Francesco Vezzoli (Brescia 1971), one of the most successful Italian contemporary artists, exploring the power of popular culture using different means of expression including embroidery, sculpture, video art and performance.

The study of media and television language leads him to an analysis of the stereotypes of contemporary culture and the influence of advertising on the human mind, research that translates into works that move between historical citations and contemporary figurative culture. A performer, he himself becomes the subject of his works, taking possession of images already known.

Emulating the typical patterns of cinema and advertising, Vezzoli tackles the ambiguity that prevents us from distinguishing reality from fiction in an analysis of myths and icons of popular culture.

These themes are addressed both in short films that portray phantom television productions, and in portraits of famous people – often in black and white – who are crying golden embroidered tears: the seductive language of advertising gives way to a deep contemplation of feelings and obsessions that affect the human soul.

Vezzoli has also revisited Boccioni’s work “Unique Forms in the Continuity of Space“, adding a heel 12 to the famous Futurist sculpture, symbol of progress and movement. The bronze “Unique forms of continuity in high heels (after Umberto Boccioni)” of 2012 aims to ridicule fascism through a sharp satire and at the same time adds a touch of glamor to Futurism.

 

Francesco Vezzoli
Francesco Vezzoli,
“Unique forms of continuity in high heels (after Umberto Boccioni)”, 2012
Bronze
Francesco Vezzoli
Francesco Vezzoli, “Cassandra Crying”, 2016
Print on canvas with metallic embroidery

Maurizio Cattelan (Padova 1960), who has often aroused and deliberately sought debates and controversy, has made irreverence and irony his style.

His works include sculptures, performances and provocative actions as in 1997, when invited to the 47th Venice Biennale he presented the work “Tourists”, 200 stuffed pigeons placed on the beams of the Italian pavilion. In visiting the space before the event Cattelan had noticed the abandonment and raging degradation together with the presence of many pigeons: he decided to “leave everything as he found it”.
One of his most ironic works is perhaps his self-portrait that emerges from the floor (presented for the first time in 2001 at the Boymans-van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam), amazed to find himself in an exhibition hall.

The installation was very much disputed during the Sotheby’s auction in May 2010, and the award of $7.92 million (excluding rights) to a buyer left in the shadow had earned him the title of the most expensive living Italian artist.

Surely scandals and provocations have had a strong impact on the artistic career of Maurizio Cattelan, as when in 2004 he exhibited three children-dummies hanged in the oak tree in Piazza XXIV Maggio in Milan – an installation aimed at raising public awareness towards the problem of domestic violence – considered offensive to public sensitivity and decorum. It is certainly a very powerful form of communication that requires non-trivial interpretative skills.

Having caused a lot of talking about himself in 2010 with the provocative “L.O.V.E.” – theme song for Freedom, Hate, Vendetta, Eternity – an 11-meter Carrara marble sculpture that stands in Piazza Affari in Milan opposite the headquarters of the Stock Exchange, building built during fascism. The work depicts a hand intent on the fascist salute but with all the fingers cut off except the middle finger, a vulgar gesture of irreverence against fascism and the world of finance.

In addition to those mentioned, Cattelan has created a remarkable body of works aimed at reflecting public opinion on issues that concern us all closely.

Just recently, you’ve heard of another of his works, an 18-carat gold toilet pan entitled “America” ​​stolen a few days after the opening of his new retrospective at Blenheim Palace, the English home where Winston Churchill was born.

Certainly theft has increased, not only the particular aura that already surrounded this interactive work – a satire on excessive wealth flaunted by the United States – created in 2016 and installed at the Guggenheim in New York for almost a year, during which around 100 thousand people could admire and use it.

The sculpture had already been talked about when Nancy Spector, curator of the exhibition, proposed it to the White House instead of the requested Van Gogh loaned but considered too delicate to be moved.

The gold toilet, estimated at around one million pounds, had already been ironically linked to Trump – who among other things has an adoration for the precious material – even though the reference to the President has always been denied by the Italian artist.

In the motivations for the particular choice Spector explained how “the work perfectly channels the history of the 20th century artistic avant-gardes”, but the sarcasm was all too obvious.

The work was inspired by income inequalities and the cycle started with the Duchamp fountain (1917) and continued with the “Artist’s shit” by Piero Manzoni from 1961.

“America” ​​stands as a supreme gesture of contempt for money and with its title adds further questions to the Duchamp’s irony, also due to its date of birth which – almost – coincides with the establishment of Trump in the White House.

Intellectually, Cattelan’s work implies different meanings, almost combining concepts and values ​​of the two works mentioned: while “Fountain” was considered without economic value, so that Duchamp’s friend Alfred Stieglitz had thrown it away, the Artist’s shit” had the value of the weight of gold.

It is therefore natural to wonder why the work was stolen: a conceptual wonder or 103 kg of gold?


Maurizio Cattelan, “Senza titolo”, 2001
Mixed technique

Maurizio Cattelan, “America”, 2016
Gold
Maurizio Cattelan
Maurizio Cattelan, “L.O.V.E.”, 2010
Carrara marble

As you have seen the irony and lightness – sometimes only apparent – are not lacking in the world of contemporary art and in today’s world artists increasingly choose performance and installation as ideal media as they perfectly indulge themselves to creations of all sorts.

The sense of humor is not always synonymous with lightness, often the meaning of many works is to be found beyond the surface.

There are still many artists worth talking to you about, you will soon discover them in the next article!

See you soon!

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

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Street artist on the street

Banksy, the most famous street artist in the world, appears among the Venetian stalls, like any street artist with a hat and a newspaper, and his true identity, as always, remains a mystery.

This time he has exhibited a series of 9 paintings that make up a single image, a view of Venice in the style of “neo-Canaletto”, with a giant cruise liner arriving in the background, a work that poses the problem of rising seas due to global pollution of environment, one of the themes so dear to the artist.

The work entitled “Venice in oil”, as the handwritten sign says, refers to the controversy about the passage of large ships in the Lagoon.

The unexpected installation took place on May 9th this year, coinciding with the 58th Biennale.

“Despite this is the largest and most prestigious art event in the world, for some reason I have never been invited”: this is the provocative message accompanying the video posted on his Instagram account yesterday, Wednesday 22 May.

The video, assembled to perfection between background music, curious tourists and cats, is almost a mini story and raises several questions about the message and makes one think about the real significance of his participation in this event.

The reflection initially involves the theme of environment, and then expands to include a strong criticism of the system of the contemporary art: Banksy asks what is right to authorize and what is not, and what are the criteria for choosing the system.

The poor street artist, lacking the necessary documents, is forced to leave at the request of the municipal police, while a huge cruise ship, harmful to the environment and destroying the landscape, an element of both visual and audial disturbance – is passing quietly and slowly in the background playing his siren.

In Italy the artist has just been celebrated with an unauthorized exhibition at the Mudec of Milan that ended on 4 April. “The Art of Banksy. A Visual Protest ”, the first Milanese exhibition dedicated to the artist from Bristol, was curated by Gianni Mercurio and collected over 70 works including paintings, sculptures, prints, objects, photographs and videos. Divided into 4 sections, the exhibition offered an in-depth view of Banksy’s artistic career, from the first graffiti to curatorial activities such as Dismaland and Walled Off Hotel in Palestine.

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

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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!”