Art News 2022: A Review

In 2022 the art world reflected the challenges and joys of contemporary society in a world recovery from the massive upsets of global events.

New York Art Expo 2022

Art Lovers, Collectors, and Artists raced back to the galleries, fairs, and auction houses, driving record sales and exhibition attendance numbers. The world’s top art festivals, including the Venice Biennale, Art Basel, and the New York Art Expo were a refreshing welcome back to the new normal.

Across the world this year, artists continued exploring the ways that racism, colonialism, and misogyny shape society, and they did so as vitally as ever. Artists of color and women artists who had been dealing with these topics for decades were suddenly seen anew, and the works they produced seemed ever more notable. Works by Contemporary Artists remain the fastest growing segment in volume and value at art auctions.

Notable Events

Record-breaking Auctions

  • Paul G. Allen Collection – Microsoft Co-Founder
    • 150 works, 20 artist’s auction records broken, and the title for the most expensive art auction of all time – $1.5 Billion
  • Bass Collection
    • Landmark works by leading 19th and 20th century artists, including Mark Rothko’s Untitled (Shades of Red), Monet’s Le Parlement, soleil couchant, and Edgar Degas’ bronze sculpture Petite danseuse de quatorze ans, among others The Auction resulting $1.2 Billion in sales.

Top 5 Artwork Sales:

  • Andy Warhol, Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, 1964 $195,040,000
  • Georges Seurat, Les Poseuses, Ensemble (Petite version), 1888 $149,240,000
  • Paul Cézanne, La Montagne Sainte-Victoire, 1888–90 $137,790,000
  • Vincent van Gogh, Verger avec cyprès, 1888 $117,180,000
  • Paul Gauguin, Maternité II, 1899 $105,730,000
Photo: ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

The Crypto-Winter

  • NFTs, a digital form of art tied to the crypto scene took center stage briefly prior to Cryptocurrency FTX collapsed under bankruptcy. This quickly cooled the NFT market.

Museums; Victim or Stage?

  • Climate change became a loud, unignorable topic in the art industry this year after activists and protestors targeted famous artworks at major museums around the world. It started with the Mona Lisa at the Louvre being smeared with cake in May. Other notable examples included mashed potatoes thrown at a Claude Monet at the Museum Barberini in Potsdam, Germany, and tomato soup splashed on a van Gogh painting at the National Gallery in London.

The Shock of War

  • The Russian invasion of Ukraine prompted preventative measures of protection for Ukrainian artworks, and a worldwide response of support for the people of Ukraine.

Art Collectors go Digital.

  • An equal number of art collectors reported discovering new artists through online marketplaces or galleries (37.4%) as those who go through physical art galleries (36.7%). According to the Saatchi Art Report, 61% of surveyed art collectors are comfortable buying art online. They’re also spending as much on art online as they are in person: 58% spent over $2,000 on art online last year and 56% spent more than $2,000 on art in person.

Queen Elizabeth II

  • Queen Elizabeth II, who turned 96 on April 21, was the first British ruler to reach the platinum jubilee milestone, having ascended to the throne on June 2, 1953. She became the nation’s longest-reigning monarch on September 9, 2015, surpassing her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria.
    • The Queen passed on September 8th, 2022 – marking an important end of an era for the British Monarchy and the world.
“Lightness of Being” Chris Levine

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