My top 10 art moments in 2020
Art fairs cancelled. Museums forced to close. Arts administrators furloughed. The “art world” has experienced immeasurable turmoil in 2020. But even in a year of unprecedented challenges, there have been unique opportunities for creativeness and hope.
Art played a pivotal role this year: being a political voice, a creative outlet, even an uplifting “friend” in troubled times. And given our physical restraints and move to the virtual realm, art has never taken up so much space in our life — it is more intimate than ever before.
On December 4, the journalist Holland Cotter wrote in his article in The New York Times that "art, fundamentally, is information" and we can look at this visual information to review the many sentiments, the highs and lows, of this past year.
My top ten art moments of 2020 (in ascending order):
10, Virtual Tours: Museum-going has become a virtual visit during the pandemic, with exhibitions increasingly being placed online — a major breakthrough, and one that significantly benefits those living in remote areas, such as in the middle of the Atlantic. People can now avoid the crowds and absorb art miles away, in online exhibitions at The Tate, The National Gallery of Art or the Picasso Museum, just to name a few.
9, Rainbow Art: In March, the BBC shared a growing trend among lockdown families in Britain that was particularly touching — rainbow art. Homes, schools and churches all placed rainbow paintings in their windows, so that those in lockdown could spread some cheer.
8, Quarantine Impressions: While stuck in their homes, quarantined people started to remix famous paintings with household items. The Getty Museum made this trend official by challenging people to dig into their online collection and recreate the paintings. The challenge was widely accepted ... and very entertaining.
7, Virtual Curator Conversations: Many curator conversations, typically limited to in-house “members only” nights at museums and galleries, have since expanded to be included online. I particularly enjoyed, like many, The Frick’s Cocktails with a Curator and the Met’s Winslow Homer discussion.
6, Podcasts: This isn’t technically a high “moment” of 2020, but it is worth noting: — art podcasts are at an all-time high. Art addicts can continue learning about art in the car, at the gym or while cleaning to explore what we once thought was a purely visual experience. A few of my favourite podcasts to listen to this year include The Great Women Artists by Katy Hassel, The Art Angle by ArtNet News and Talk Art by Russell Tovey and Robert Diament.
5, Instagram Art: Instagram, also not a new trend by any means, has been significantly valuable for artists this past year who have used this platform to build their client base and spread awareness. This platform became even more critical in 2020 with the closure of galleries, forcing artists who were non-Instagram believers, to move on to this social-media channel. A few of my favourite art platforms: Museummammy, Kate Bryan, Candid Curator.
4, Election Art: This year, art has never seemed more political. Art created a voice for people to share their pain, hope and fear in the lead-up to the United States presidential election. And visuals have had a concrete impact in influencing voter decisions.
3, BLM Art: Some of the most powerful visuals of this past year are tied to the Black Lives Matter movement. British magazine ArtReview's annual "Power 100" ranking names the most influential people in art, and this year the Black Lives Matter movement made it to the top. Mural painting, street art, boarded-up businesses turned into gallery shows, Amy Sherald’s Vanity Fair cover of Breonna Taylor ... the list goes on and on.
2, Monuments: This year has sparked conversation around the importance of monuments. People are now asking, “Who is it that we are celebrating and why?” As a University of Virginia graduate, I was particularly pleased to see my campus town, Charlottesville — which was unfortunately the scene of a violent rally in 2017 — create a new “Memorial to Enslaved Labourers” which honours enslaved African-Americans who built and worked at the University of Virginia.
1, Masterworks Canvas Day: July 11 marked a particularly special day for me personally — one that I, and the Masterworks team, will never forget. After the lockdown of the island and forced closure of the museum, Masterworks reopened its doors and brought the community together like never before to paint the largest canvas in Bermuda. The visual still hangs in the Masterworks gallery today – a symbol of our community and of our individual and shared dreams for the future.
• Risa Hunter, a passionate arts professional with a particular interest in engaging diverse audiences in Western Atlantic visual culture, is the Assistant Director of Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art