What happened in 2017 that caught the art world by storm?

Posted on January - 3 - 2018

Courtesy: Vice

With the election’s outcome, it seemed that 2017 was going to be a turbulent year for the United States as well as the rest of the world. However, last year hosted one of the busiest years for the development and expansions of new museums such as the Louvre Abu Dhabi launched in the United Arab Emirates, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the moving of the Bass Museum in Miami. Besides that, Europe saw an overwhelming crowd of people heading to the cluster of blockbuster fairs, such as the Venice Biennale and documenta 14. The year 2017 was filled with events that changed the art world and set the stage for the new year. Here is a list of controversial and eventful moments of 2017.

Documenta 14 ran a mayor $6.3 million budget deficit. 

For the first year, the iconic fair ran its fourteen-edition focusing on themes of national debt, taking place in both Kassel and Athens. The ambitious agenda of documenta left its parent company with a deficit of $6.3 million. The city of Kassel and the state of Hesse had to bail the fair out, which caused a lot of controversy in the art world making Annette Kulenkampff, the CEO of documenta’s parent company, resigned her post in June.

Abu Dhabi acquired Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi (c.1500) for a historical record-breaking $450

The most expensive artwork sold on November 15th it caused a major commotion in the art world. From the moment it was auctioned at Christie’s, it was a mystery who had bought the artwork, but then it was revealed that a Saudi Arabian prince had been acting as a proxy for Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed Bin Salman. However, this was denied by Saudi authorities, stating that the pieces were bought by Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism for the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which opened to the public on November 11th. The museum, designed by Jean Nouvel was the first institution outside of France and houses 600 artworks. On record, the leading artwork that followed was Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (1982) sold at $110.4 m and Vincent van Gogh’s Laboureur dan un champ (1889).

Courtesy: Reuters

Lubaina Himid became the first woman of color and the oldest artists to win the Turner Prize 

On December 5th, the 63-year-old artist Lubain Himid was awarded the prize for her work dealing with race and black identity. Through her paintings, prints, drawing, and installations, which celebrate Black creativity, the slave industry, neglected cultural contributions. She repeatedly questions the historical role of portraiture in one of her most famous works A Fashionable Marriage (1987), which was recently exhibited in The Place is Here as Nottingham contemporary (2017).  She has also curated exhibitions to showcase the works of underrepresented Black artists.

Courtesy: Tate

The German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale and the Whitney Biennial 

Critics, curators, and spectators all coincide with their collective admiration for the installation and choreography “Faust” by artists Anne Imhof, where she dealt with hems of social, economic and political power structures at play. Also, the Whitney Biennial was the stage for one of the most controversial moments of the art-world, Open Casket (2016) by Dana Schutz, which presented a portrait of a disfigured corpse of Emmett Till. This created a big reaction from the Black community, which protested that white artists like Schutz shouldn’t have the right to depict certain themes. As a reacting, the artist Parker Bright stood in front of the painting wearing a t-shirt with “Black Death Spectacle” written on it on Sharpie. British artists Hannah Black wrote a public letter stating that the painting should be removed from the show. This gained massive media attention and followed the artist to continue to ignite conversations about cultural appropriations and censorship.

There were many more events that shaped the past year, can you think of any that caught your attention?

By: Gabriela Martínez de la Hoz

The German Pavillion on May 10, 2017 the first preview day of the Venice Biennale in Venice, Italy. Photograph by Casey Kelbaugh