Skip to main content

Palais de Tokyo

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!”


All the autumn exhibitions not to be missed!



Fondation Beyeler, Basel

September 2 – January 1, 2019


The exhibition, in collaboration with the artist’s family and curated by Raphael Bouvier and Michiko Kono, presents fifty of the most significant works of the artist’s career and is the first major retrospective dedicated to Balthus in German-speaking Switzerland.

The artist’s bond with these places has always been strong, both for his marriage to the Swiss aristocrat Antonietta de Watteville and for the childhood spent between Bern and Geneva.

Balthus, pseudonym of Balthasar Klossowski de Rola, was born in Paris to an art critic father and painter mother, thanks to his parents he had the opportunity to travel and get closer to the world of art from an early age.

It will be the first trip to Italy in 1926 to bring him closer to the Tuscan Renaissance masters, in particular to Piero della Francesca, whom he considered to be his mentor.

Taking the compositional system from the great painters of the past, then expertly mixing it with the other Italian artistic currents, such as Magic Realism and Metaphysics: it is from this particular combination that the enigmatic static nature characteristic of his works is born, which can combine daily life and mystery, dream and reality.

Balthus has been able to revolutionize the figurative tradition in open opposition to the avant-garde currents of the time, in a historical period that featured painters such as Picasso and Matisse.

Little understood by his contemporaries, after the thirties his iconography was oriented towards the representation of nudes characterized by an almost sculptural immobility; among these his main subjects are young children in the toilet that also earned him pornography charges.

The delicacy of the nudes, caught in moments of daily intimacy and anything but mischievous, clearly expresses Balthus’s intent to tell the psychological aspect of the subjects and to cite the classical masters.

The bond with Italy is expected to strengthen from 1961, when the artist is appointed director of the Academy of France in Rome, an assignment that will last 17 years during which Balthus will create several works set in the eternal city.

The great retrospective that will end in Basel on January 1, 2019, will move to Madrid at the National Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum.

Balthus, Thérèse, 1938

Oil on cardboard mounted on wood

100.3 x 81.3 cm


Renzo Piano

The Art of Making Buildings

Royal Academy of Arts, London

September 15 – January 20, 2019


United by a sense of lightness thanks to the use of large windows, a mixture of invention and tradition, function and context, Renzo Piano’s buildings are now part of the public imagination.

His projects have changed the skyline of metropolises all over the world through futuristic and immediately recognizable lines, the result of a work of constant research and experimentation with materials and architectural typologies.

The exhibition, designed and curated in close collaboration with the same Plan, traces the architect’s career from the Genoese heritage of the construction builder father to the studies carried out in Florence and Milan, passing through international experiences and worldwide acclaim alongside his friend and collaborator Richard Rogers.

Focused on 16 key projects, the exhibition explores the architect’s modus operandi, highlighting the wise use of shapes, materials and engineering to materialise elegant and pioneering ideas.

The Centre George Pompidou in Paris, a project of 1971 that brought him worldwide fame, the London Shard, and the New York Times headquarters in the Big Apple stand out among the most famous projects designed by Piano.

On display there will be not only photographs and projects but also many hand drawings in which you can follow the flow of ideas and inspirations that led to the creation of futuristic buildings that have become icons and symbols of absolute modernity.

In addition to the projects that made him crown “archistar”, the lesser known ones dating back to the 1970s, the beginning of the career of the well-known Genoese architect, will also be visible.

At the centre of the exhibition is the imaginary “Island“, a sculptural installation specially designed for the monograph of the Royal Academy that brings together almost 100 projects that recount Renzo Piano’s 30 years of career.

The Shard, also called London Bridge Tower

London, 2013-2016.


Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci

Abu Dhabi Louvre

September 18


Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi will be finally exhibited at the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, after being purchased for the record of $ 450 million by the United Arab Emirates Department of Culture and Tourism in November 2017 during the Christie’s auction in New York.

Just one week after the museum’s inauguration, the purchase has been an excellent marketing operation and has further clarified the economic power of the Emirates

However, this is a temporary exhibition, because the work will return to the Louvre in Paris on the occasion of the exhibition that will take place from 24 October 2019 until 24 February 2020 to celebrate the anniversary of the death – 500 years in May 2019 – of the Tuscan master.

The oil on board representing Christ blessing has long been considered to come from Leonardo’s workshop, and over time the attributions by international experts, who have long debated on the authorship of the work, have been very controversial.

Painted between 1490 and around 1515, it was finally recognized as Leonardo’s work only in 2011 on the occasion of the exhibition at the National Gallery in London.

The Salvator Mundi promises to be the centrepiece of the Abu Dhabi collection and represents an excellent piece to counterbalance the Mona Lisa, exhibited in the Parisian museum of the same name.

The collaboration between the two Louvres foresees that the Abu Dhabi museum can use the name – which has become almost a brand – for about 30 years.

The terms of the agreements provide that France undertakes to guarantee a constant loan of works through the Agence France-Muséums, an institution that brings together the 13 major French museums involved in the partnership with Abu Dhabi. These thirteen museums will also ensure the rotation of four exhibitions per year for 15 years at the Arab facility.

France also has the obligation of bringing curators, experts and highly qualified figures who will train the staff to the Louvre in Abu Dhabi: in this way the museum will have time to build its own permanent collection and to manage itself within a few years.

Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi, around 1490-1515.

Oil on wallnut

66 x 46 cm


The World on Paper

New Cultural Headquarters of the Deutsche Bank, Berlin.

Opening September 27th.


On September 27, the new cultural headquarters of the Deutsche Bank will open in Berlin under the direction of Svenja von Reichenbach, formerly responsible for exhibitions at the Berlin office and director of the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle since 2013.

The Centre is spread over a total area of 3,000 square metres occupying the building renamed “Palais Populaire” and the spaces adjacent to it.

In the artistic field, the German bank is known for a collection focused on photography and works on paper among the most important in the world, but the cultural centre of Berlin will host events of all kinds including exhibitions, concerts and sports.

The exhibition that inaugurates the spaces, “The World on Paper” curated by Friedhelm Hütte, sees protagonists precisely with the works of the Deutsche Bank collection, but information about it is once again very scarce, probably to intrigue the public by focusing on the surprise effect.

Exterior view of the Palais Populaire, Berlin


Real Bodies: discover the human body

Spazio Ventura XV, Milan

October 6 – January 31, 2019


The exhibition on human anatomy returns to Milan two years after the first exhibition held at the Fabbrica del Vapore, where it had reached a record attendance with 280 thousand visitors, certainly thanks to the intriguing and attracting particularity of the “objects” on display.

The 500 artifacts preserved by plastination are organs of men and women who voluntarily decided to donate their post mortem body in the name of science.

This year, on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, a section of the exhibition will be dedicated to the Tuscan master, undisputed pioneer of forensic medicine and a great scholar of human body.

The thirty installations of human artefacts will reproduce Leonardo da Vinci’s anatomical sketches contained in the Windsor code in a direct comparison between his studies and reality.

Another novelty compared to the previous edition is the presence of animal organs, including the heart of a humpback whale, the largest heart muscle on Earth that measures 1-meter-wide and is capable of pumping 220 litres of blood.

The exhibition, through the study of the human body, aims to make known the progress of biomechanics and reconstructive surgery, to sensitize people on the fight against addictions and to facilitate disease prevention. The high scientific and educational value makes the exhibition an unmissable appointment for school children and curious people in general.

Leonardo da Vinci, Windsor codex, detail of a drawing



Carte Blanche to Tomás Saraceno

On Air

Palais de Tokyo, Paris

October 17 – January 6, 2019


Tomás Saraceno will be the protagonist of the fourth edition of the “Cartes Blanches” series, monumental exhibitions cyclically entrusted to different artists that started in 2013 with Philippe Parreno, then continued in 2016 with Tino Sehgal and with Camille Henrot in 2017.

On Air” promises to be the largest project ever created by the artist, whose research develops and concretizes in the mixture of architecture, art science and philosophy.

The exhibition brings together a selection of his main works and new productions that will transform the 13,000 square metres of the Palais de Tokyo into a truly unique experience.

By combining the smaller and larger stairs, the exhibition will seek to reveal the connection between a spider web, a particle of dust, an architecture and the redistribution of the atmosphere through the Aerocene, an interdisciplinary artistic project that proposes a collective rethinking of the way men inhabit the world.

Aerocene imagines the creation of a new infrastructure that redefines the international right to mobility, reviewing the freedom of movement between countries and reminding us that air is a precious asset that belongs to all living beings.

The exhibition space of the Palais de Tokyo thus becomes a huge stage that shows the richness and complexity of everything that makes up the universe, transporting us to a place where the microscopic and the cosmic coexist, transcending human perception to explore the world from different points of view.

Flanked by a team of international professionals that sees the participation of architects, researchers and astrophysicists from all over the world, Tomás Saraceno invites us to rethink our way of experiencing the planet.

Tomás Saraceno, detail of a work, 2017


Picasso Metamorphosis

Palazzo Reale, Milan

October 18 – February 17, 2019


The European exhibition promoted by the Musée Picasso in Paris also stops in Milan and presents 200 works that include both works by Picasso and pieces of ancient art from important international museum institutions.

The focus of the exhibition is the relationship between the painter and the myth of antiquity, a source of inspiration highlighted by the many references that Picasso has included in his works during his artistic career: therefore, the mythological themes emerge thanks to a direct comparison between pieces of ancient art and master’s works.

The exhibition is part of a series of events dedicated by the Royal Palace to the Spanish painter, which began in 1953 with the exhibition of Guernica in the Sala delle Cariatidi and ended with the large monographic exhibition of 2012.

Pablo Picasso, Women at the spring, 1921

Paris, Musée de l’Orangerie

Oil on canvas

50 x 52 cm


Mario Merz


Hangar Bicocca, Milan

October 24 – February 24


The exhibition curated by Vicente Todolí and created in collaboration with the Merz Foundation, offers the unique opportunity to be able to admire for the first time 30 igloos from private collections and museums, created by the artist between 1968 and 2003.

The exhibition opens with 1987’s “La Goccia d’Acqua”, which with its 12 meters in diameter is the largest igloo created by Merz for an internal exhibition space, on the occasion of the solo exhibition at the Musée d’Art Contemporain in Bordeaux .

In the space of the Navate, with an area of 5,500mq, the exhibition itinerary then proceeds in chronological order starting with the igloos created in the sixties.

Thanks to this substantial body of works, the exhibition takes us through the most innovative aspects and components of Merz, very tied to the particular use of both natural and industrial materials and attentive to the dialogue between natural space and architecture.

A key figure in Arte Povera, Mario Merz was among the first in Italy to use the artistic installation as an artistic means of expression, inserting neon and everyday objects on the canvas. In addition to these, he has often also used some elements belonging to the scientific field, such as the Fibonacci sequence.

It is from 1968 that he introduces a theme that will remain one of the most representative of his research: the igloo.

This particular type of home becomes a metaphor for the relationships between physical space and conceptual space, between individual and community, a place of refuge and ephemeral isolation from external reality.

Igloos are often created through metal structures covered with various elements, from clay to glass, from stone to jute.

Since the 1980s there has been an evolution in the structure of the igloos, which become more complex, characterized by intersecting lines and the addition of neon writing.

The symbolic value of these delicate installations sometimes assumes even political meanings, thus opening up to contemporary debates.

Mario Merz, The Drop of Water, 1987

Diameter: 12 meters


The shades of the rainbow of art are infinite: choose your favourite!