As the clock ticks down on 2020, it seems appropriate to look back at the year in clicks. In other words, we’re taking a look at the articles that Art Critique readers were most interested in over the year. From activism in art to anticipated exhibitions, art market intricacies, and Wolfgang Beltracchi, here are 10 of the most-viewed articles from AC this year:
An animation created by Juan Declan and Valentina Izaguirre cleverly used matchsticks to demonstrate the importance and effectiveness of social distancing. The video, called Safety Match, captivated audiences here on AC, on Twitter, Instagram and beyond. Shared by the likes of US TV personality and journalist Katie Couric, Safety Match has garnered more than one million views on Instagram alone and nine months later, its message is as important as ever.
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Just before the art world was turned upside down by the pandemic, AC looked at intricacies of the art market and why extraordinary prices have become the norm at the auction block. From ghost bidders and backers to behind the scenes collusion abd money laundering, the art market sees it all and its lack of transparency keeps collectors and artists on their toes.
2020 was a busy year for elusive Bristol-based artist Banksy and in June, the artist weighed in on what should replace a statue of Edward Colston, a 17th-century slave trader. During a June Black Lives Matter demonstration, protestors toppled the Colston statue and rolled it into the Bristol harbour. Banksy envisioned repositioning the original statue with the addition of the protestors pulling it down, memorialising the June 7th events.
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In a year where art theft made headlines more times than many would like, it’s no surprise that art forgery was a topic of interest as well, and you can’t talk forgery without covering Wolfgang Beltracchi. AC covered the history of the infamous forger, how Beltracchi came to be, his downfall, and his legacy. It might seem like the art world today would be impervious to such an incredible, movie-worthy con, but in fact, it might not be at all.
Oh, we were hopeful and at the start of the year, there was much to look forward to. From a swan song by Christo that would have realised a lifelong vision of the artist, who passed away this year, and his late wife, to the debut exhibition of works by Artemisia Gentileschi at the London National Gallery. Unfortunately, all of the exhibitions covered were affected by the pandemic but the hope for the year was palpable. It’s a reminder of the optimism that usually comes with the start of a new year, which will be somewhat tempered heading into 2021.
The Van Gogh Museum determined a portrait of the artist to have been “unmistakably” created by van Gogh, himself. Painted in 1889, the painting was attributed to the artist and acquired by the Nasjonalmuseet collection in Oslo. However, since the 1970s, a question mark arose over who created the work. After extensive research, the painting was once again named as a van Gogh and is now thought to have been created while the artist was suffering from a bought of psychosis.
When a self-portrait by Jenny Saville sold for £9.5 million at Sotheby’s, it broke the record for the most expensive work by a living artist. But, it also brought up the topic of women in art, which had gained momentum in recent years, and the glass ceiling that has yet to be totally shattered. Saville’s success highlighted the lack of women – as artists, not muses – represented in museums, galleries, and the art market.
The summer brought a lot of turmoil as Black Lives Matter protesters rallied around the world against an onslaught of police violence. In covering activism, AC looked at how it and art come together and some of the artists whose works are particularly poignant. From climate change to the lived experience of people of colour to the AIDS epidemic to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, artists have weighed in and AC readers were here for it.
The camera obscura can be a bit… obscure, pun intended, when it comes to how it works. It’s one of those contraptions that comes up a lot in art but how it functions isn’t as straight forward. AC shed some light on how the camera obscura works and discussed some of the ways it’s been used and by whom as well as how to make your own camera obscura in your own home.
While Mount Rushmore is well-known throughout the US and around the world, an even larger depiction of Crazy Horse is far less-known. The carving of the renowned warrior and chief has been under construction for more than 70 years and has drawn crowds and criticism. Located just 17 miles from Mount Rushmore, the history of the Crazy Horse Memorial was particularly popular amongst AC readers.