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Art in 2021: resilience and fever NFT

The art world has had a bittersweet 2021: art fairs and museums at half gas have lived with the NFT fever, magnificent exhibitions, the inauguration of new art centers and the traditional auction records.

Fiebre NFT

The NFT -Non Fungible Tokens- had been around the art world for some time, but it was in March when it made its entrance through the front door.

A work by Beeple, hitherto unknown to the general public, fetched $ 69 million at auction, shattering several records at once, the most expensive digital work ever sold and the third most sought-after living artist.

The phenomenon, which also generates skepticism among traditional collectors, has triggered online sales, which have benefited from this phenomenon and has attracted young and new collectors.

The fever continues and does not seem to have an end, Melania Trump has been one of the last personalities to launch her own NFT platform. Singers like Ozuna and museums like the Hermitage have also joined the wave. Time will tell if the novelty is a bubble or it is here to stay.

Despite this phenomenon, the art market has experienced 2021 at half gas and has not recovered pre-pandemic levels.

A survey by Art Basel – the most important art fair – spoke of losses for half of the galleries, especially the smallest ones.

The art fairs, where many of the deals are closed, have been held reduced or have been directly suspended, but everyone hopes, one more year, a better 2022.

New exhibitions and new museums

The opening of museums has not been slowed by the pandemic: 2021 has been a prolific year. In May, the Pinault Collection opened its doors in the emblematic building of the Paris Stock Exchange; then came the brand new Munch Museum in Oslo and the much anticipated Los Angeles Film Academy.

More modest but just as gratifying for the sector were the openings of the Luma center in Arles (France), with a building by Franck Gehry, the M + in Hong Kong or the imposing GES-2 in Moscow.

Many have been the exhibitions that have survived the ravages of the pandemic, many of them forced delays in 2020. This is the case of Titian’s mythological passions, which traveled through the National Gallery in London, the Prado Museum in Madrid and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 2021.

Also exceptional were the Jasper Johns retrospective, with double headquarters, at the Whitney in New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the great Goya exhibition at the Beleyer Foundation (Basel) or the Pompidou’s reckoning between abstraction and women artists with “Elles font l’abstraction”.

2021 was the year that many museums -especially in the United States- reopened their doors after a year closed tightly. The return of the public has been slow and gradual, although still far from pre-pandemic levels due to the general drop in tourism.

Auction records

The auctions seem oblivious to the general catastrophe in the art world. Banksy’s self-destructive work, which sold for 1.2 million euros in 2018, was put up for auction again and its price rose again like foam to 21 million, beating the record of the beginning of the year of the graffiti artist with a drawing to pencil that raised 19 million euros for toilets.

Frida Kahlo unseated her eternal love, Diego Rivera, as the most sought-after Latin American artist, after the sale of “Diego y yo” for US $ 34.9 million; and Boticelli saw one of his paintings, “Young Man Holding Medallion,” fetch $ 92 million, setting a new record for a Renaissance artist.

Although he did not break his record, it was also a good year for Basquiat, who reached US $ 93 million, doubling his start, for “In This Case”; and for Monet, with “Le Bassin aux nymphéas”, which exceeded US $ 70 million, also for Rothko, 7 with US $ 73 million for “No 7” with its characteristic colors.


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