The 10 Biggest Art News Stories of 2016

From touching to tragic, these are the stories that made an impact this year.

David Bowie with Peter Howson’s Croatian and Muslim (1994). Photograph: Richard Young/Rex Features.
David Bowie with Peter Howson’s Croatian and Muslim (1994). Photograph: Richard Young/Rex Features.

It’s been a long and eventful 2016, with an abundance of art-related headlines ranging from the interesting to the banal to the outright absurd.

Whether its performance artists getting arrested for letting strangers touch her chest, insights into the art collections of iconic pop stars, or the large variety of scandals, there was a lot going on in the art world this year. But what did you, the reader, judge as the biggest art news stories of the year?

To find out, artnet News took a glance at the analytics for 2016 to determine what caught readers’ attention from January to now. The results are, at least, entertaining.

Milo Moire

1. Milo Moiré Jailed in London for Inviting the Public to Touch Her Body
In her “Mirror Box” performances in Düsseldorf, London, and Amsterdam this summer, artist Milo Moiré invited passersby to reach through reflective compartments and touch her chest or genitals for 30 seconds or less. According to the artist, the performance raises awareness about “women’s rights and sexual equality” by exploring the notion of consent. Unfortunately, her good intentions didn’t stop London police from arresting her.

Chemist Mas Subramanian. Courtesy of Oregon State University.

Chemist Mas Subramanian. Courtesy of Oregon State University.

2. The Chemist Who Discovered the World’s Newest Blue Explains Its Miraculous Properties 
In 2009, chemist Mas Subramanian and his team at Oregon State University accidentally discovered an incredibly luminous blue pigment called YInMn blue whilst conducting experiments associated to electronics. In June, the pigment was licensed for commercial use and is already being used by several artists.

David Bowie with Peter Howson’s Croatian and Muslim (1994). Photograph: Richard Young/Rex Features.

David Bowie with Peter Howson’s Croatian and Muslim (1994). Photo: Richard Young/Rex Features.

3. Take a Peek at David Bowie’s Idiosyncratic Art Collection
Following the iconic musician’s death in January we took a look at the pop star’s art collection. Bowie was an avid collector who admitted that art is “the only thing I’d ever want to own. His collection included old master works by Rubens and Tintoretto, as well as 20th century British artists Graham Sutherland, William Tillyer, Leon Kossoff, Stanley Spencer, Gavin Turk, Gilbert & George, and others.

Katarzyna Wielga-Skolimowska. Photo: Polish Institute Berlin

Katarzyna Wielga-Skolimowska. Photo: Polish Institute Berlin

4. Director of Polish Culture Institute in Berlin Fired for ‘Too Much Jewish Content
In December, the cultural manager and director of the Polish culture institute in Berlin Katarzyna Wielga-Skolimowska was unceremoniously sacked. According to Poland’s ambassador in Germany, Andrzej Przyłębsk, Poland’s right-wing PiS-led government called for her to be axed because her program contained “too much Jewish-themed content.”

A Jeff Koons x Bernardaud balloon dog similar to this one was damaged at Design Miami/ over the weekend. Photo courtesy Bernardaud, ©Jeff Koons.

A Jeff Koons x Bernardaud balloon dog similar to this one was damaged at Design Miami/ over the weekend. Photo courtesy Bernardaud, ©Jeff Koons.

5. Jeff Koons Porcelain ‘Balloon Dog’ Topples and Shatters in Miami
A miniature Jeff Koons ‘Balloon Dog’ sculpture fell off its display shelf of historic porcelain manufacturer Bernardaud’s booth at DesignMiami in December. The porcelain statuette—from a limited-edition collaboration with the American artist immediately shattered—resulting in numerous puns about a ‘smashing’ opening day of the design fair.

Anish Kapoor. Photo: Rob Stothard/Getty Images.

Anish Kapoor. Photo: Rob Stothard/Getty Images.

6. Anish Kapoor Angers Artists by Seizing Exclusive Rights to ‘Blackest Black’ Pigment 
When news emerged that Anish Kapoor secured the exclusive rights for the artistic use of Vantablack, a color so dark that it absorbs 99.96 percent of light; artists around the world were furious and demanded that the pigment be made available to everyone. Kapoor later revealed that the complex composition of the pigment—designed for military use—made it impossible to roll out on a commercial scale, necessitating a collaborative approach with the manufacturer.

Ursula von Rydingsvard, Cedrus, (2015) installed at the FBI Miami field offices. Image Courtesy Instagram.

Ursula von Rydingsvard, Cedrus, (2015) installed at the FBI Miami field offices. Image Courtesy Instagram.

7. FBI Agents Hospitalized After the Installation of a New Cedar Sculpture
The General Services Administration (GSA), which leases office space to US federal agencies, was thrilled to secure a 17-foot-tall sculpture by artist Ursula van Rydingsvard for the bargain price of $750,000. Shortly after the artwork was installed in the lobby of the FBI’s Miami field office, however, over a dozen agents became ill, blaming cedar dust. However, “No possible causes have been confirmed,” Saudia Muwwakkil, a spokesperson for the General Services Administration, told Hyperallergic.

Banner image for the study "Panic! What Happened to Social Mobility in the Arts?," by Create in association with Goldsmiths, University of London, University of Sheffield, and the London School of Economics

Banner image for the study “Panic! What Happened to Social Mobility in the Arts?,” by Create in association with Goldsmiths, University of London, University of Sheffield, and the London School of Economics
Image: Courtesy Create

8. Do You Have to Be Rich to Make It as an Artist? 
In January, artnet News’ columnist Ben Davis explored whether being born into a privileged upbringing can enhance an artist’s chance of success in the contemporary art world. Davis concludes that there is no direct correlation between family income and artistic success, listing examples of artists on both sides of the income disparity scale. But he rightly notes, “when basic needs are met, it’s easier to be creative.”

Businessman and activist Jospeh Corré is the son of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren

Businessman and activist Jospeh Corré is the son of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren <br<Photo: via YouTube

9. Vivienne Westwood’s Son Will Burn His $7 Million Punk Collection to Spite the Queen
Joseph Corré, son of punk-turned fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and Sex Pistols impresario Malcolm McLaren, decided to do something drastic after the Queen of England acknowledged the subculture by declaring 2016 as the “year of punk”. Corré decided the only fitting response would be to set fire to his alleged £5 million ($7.1 million) collection of punk memorabilia. “When the Queen gives a fucking nod to punk’s 40th Anniversary Year, you know something has gone seriously wrong,” Corré explained.

Ebony Patterson. Courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.

Ebony Patterson. Courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.

10. 18 Female Artists Give Advice to Women Starting Out in the Art World
Embarking on a career in the ultra competitive art world is tough. For young women, its often toughest because by and large the art world remains a male-dominated workplace, ranging from the dominance of male artists at gallery and museum exhibitions to unabashed misogyny. As a result, artnet News asked 18 successful female artists to share some advice on how they navigated their way to success and mastered the obstacles put in their way.


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