2015 in Review – Contemporary and Urban Art Stories

REVIEW2015 e1

It has been a year of great cultural and political shifts in Contemporary & Urban Art! We gathered stories on extraordinary people, their words, actions and art, which marked 2015 in the eyes of our community of readers and broader global public of creatives and art professionals. Jean Baudrillard wrote about Disneyland as one of the main examples of hyperreality - a key concept in understanding contemporary cultural conditions. By presenting the imaginary as more realistic then the reality itself Disneyland draws visitors into the world of escapism and happiness achieved through simulation. On the plain of art and cultural criticism, Banksy presented a reflection upon the situation which has consumed the public of Europe, Africa and Middle East. Dismaland rose in the center of international art discourse – with a clear political message. On the other hand, not everyone could understand the intention behind photographing old, often abandoned structures, especially not in such a plain, rigorous, apparently repetitive way. In style of Constructivism and Minimalism, Hilla Becher formed grids of these pictures. 2015 will be remembered by the departure of one of the greatest contemporary photographers! Finally, the year of 2015 was a chance to reflect upon the complex and intertwined relation between media and art. Through a number of words by Andy Warhol, we have realized that one of the masters of Contemporary Art had had more than a glimpse into our present – from the simple analysis of the growth of art market and the transformation of consumerist culture, all the way through the significance of women in art and the role of the Internet…

REVIEW2015 е3 2

All major art market actors, and those interested in contemporary art, were carefully watching the truly incredible New York auction sales in May 2015. Two weeks of auctions; three major auction houses – Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips; and total worth of sold artworks around $2.6 billion. Many records were broken, the most important one being the sale of an artwork by one of the most significant 20th Century artists – this sale set the new world record for an artwork sold at an auction. Everybody had expected something big was going to happen – and, indeed, their expectations were completely met. On the other hand, we had a remarkable fall auction sale season; $828 million worth of art was sold in span of just few days and at just five sales in New York. But, when we take a closer look, we will realize the fall season auction sales could have been better; or our expectations were exaggerated? Nevertheless, a few breathtaking sales took place at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips, many of them breaking the records in different categories. Widewalls presents 15 most expensive artworks sold at major auction houses (Phillips, Sotheby’s and Christie’s) in 2015. It’s not the list of 15 artworks whose hammer prices were the highest in the year; no, it’s a general presentation on what artworks achieved the highest prices, and where. You might guess who the artists and what artworks are at stake. Of course, there has to be at least one Roy Lichtenstein, Picasso, Van Gogh, Francis Bacon. There were couple of surprises, but what will attract you attention will be the prices paid for these magnificent pieces of art... Continue following Widewalls' Auction Analyses in 2016 and don't miss out on exciting results!

REVIEW2015 е4 1

When looking at an artwork, one can understand many things about its artist. Art is, after all, the most powerful tool of expression, so what we're looking at is actually an emotion, a cause, an effect, an idea turned into reality with incredible skill. But very often, we want to go "behind the scenes", to find out about the inspiration behind such act, to get to know the mind that created it and the force that drives them. We want to pick the brains of today's most talented urban and contemporary artists who are writing the history of visual arts. And not only; we want to understand the world of art today as a whole through the engaging conversations with its many prolific professionals, exhibition curators, museum and gallery directors, art fairs organizers and advisors around the globe. Over the course of 2015, we had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing many of them, in a series of experiences that have left us speechless. From the iconic Shepard Fairey and the talented MadC to long-term gallery experts Dominique Levy and Jonathan LeVine, here is the selection of ten best Widewalls interviews of the year…

REVIEW2015 e5

In the eventful year that is behind us, artists fought for their rights, they fought for freedom of speech, some of them violated other people’s rights, and some just caused massive controversy and outrage. It is in the artist’s nature to use the creative force to speak out and express their inner voice. Some might do it blatantly and pose pregnant and naked in front of the NY Public Library, others illegally “borrow” other people’s work and try to make it their own, while there are those who are able to produce a simple symbol uniting people and bringing comfort in dire times. All of these stories marked 2015, and made it a very colorful and interesting year in the world of art. In 2015, we have seen numerous interesting events occuring in the sphereof Contemporary and Urban Art, yet not in close relation to the practice of art itself but rather some disturbing, shocking and scandalous stories that made us wonder about the state of arts and society in general. On the other hand, we had praiseworthy projects and artistic initiatives that made us look forward to the future and be optimistic about the world we live in. From art dealing scandals, artists’ arrests and lawsuits to violent episodes and controversial artworks, last year was filled with exciting and thought provoking affairs. With the help of our devoted readers, we have made a selection of most intriguing art stories of 2015, stories that have captured the attention of many art lovers in all corners of the globe.

REVIEW2015 e6

The end of a year is a good time to take a short break and think about the past, but it is also a great opportunity to contemplate on what the future would bring. Rather than recapitulating the events of the past year, as we did in the series of articles recently, we are looking ahead and presenting some emerging talents to look out for in 2016. Young artists, with their unstoppable urge to surpass the legacy of their predecessors are always bringing something new and exciting to the scene and this is why they deserve to be placed in the spotlight. In no particular order, we have created the list of ten names that have captured the attention of art professionals and collectors in 2015 with their innovative projects and great exhibitions. They come from various backgrounds and work in diverse styles, but they are all equally exciting. Whether you are a collector or simply enjoy art, you should definitely keep your eyes open when it comes to these 10 young talents.