After a year of constant closures and cancellations amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, the art market rebounded with a vengeance in 2021. According to a report, global sales of art and antiques reached a staggering USD 50.1 billion last year, although this figure fell 22% short of what was achieved in 2019. However, online sales of art and antiques reached a record high of USD 12.4 billion, constituting almost 25% of the total sales of artworks.
Major auction houses, like Christie’s and Sotheby’s, jumped on the NFT bandwagon, achieving impressive sales of NFT-backed digital art. As we move into 2022, uncertainty looms large. A handful of art exhibitions and fairs have been postponed amidst a new variant making the rounds, while many other art events are scheduled for the latter half of the year. Here, we have rounded up some of the art auctions to look forward to in 2022. In a significant shift from previous years, auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s are accepting online bids with a major emphasis on the sale of NFT artworks.
Master Works on Paper from Five Centuries (Sotheby’s)
The first version of this auction was held by Sotheby’s in London in July 2021. This second iteration goes under the hammer on January 26 at 10 am (EST). This auction presents an exceptional selection of drawings, watercolours, and gouaches from over the last five centuries. Some of the key highlights of this auction are Head of a Young Woman Looking Down drawn by a very young Fra Bartolommeo in the 1490s, a charming study by Degas for his 1886 painting, Helene Rouart in her Father’s Study, and a selection of drawings by French and Italian masters, such as Fragonard, Hubert Robert, and Lelio Orsi.
Modern and Contemporary African Art (Sotheby’s)
African art has rarely been accorded the importance it deserves by the art world. As such, Sotheby’s, which posits itself as one of the largest auctioneers of African art, is attempting to fill this void. On offer are a carefully curated selection of paintings, photographs, drawings, and sculptures by modern and contemporary African artists such as Ben Enwonwu, Cheri Samba, Hassan El Glaoui, and Mohamed Melehi. Bidding opens on March 22 at 15:00 hours (GMT).
Gérald Genta: Icon of Time (Sotheby’s)
Sotheby’s has always pushed the envelope when it comes to expanding our notions of art. In its bid to constantly rethink the contours of modern art and design, the auction house has decided to pay a tribute to Gérald Genta, who is considered the “Picasso of modern watch design.” His designs shaped the modern watchmaking industry and became the bestsellers of the last century. In a one-of-a-kind NFT sale, the auction house invites bids on artistic digital replicas of a selection of his designs that will come with a certificate of authenticity. Bidding starts on February 10, 10:00 (Geneva Time).
Americana Week (Christie’s)
Christie’s celebrates 19th-century American art through a series of four auctions, starting January 11. The week features not just paintings but artefacts, maps, furniture, and engravings that graced American homes of the yore. On offer are a magnificent Philadelphia armchair, a 1776 map of New York City, notable portraits of George Washington, and an enchanting winter landscape by Frederic Church, among others.
Gobardhan Ash Avatars (Prinseps)
Prinseps is an avant-garde Indian auction house that is holding the first-ever NFT auction of works of Indian painter Gobardhan Ash. For those who are unaware of the trajectory of Indian art, Gobardhan Ash is a pioneering figure who broke away from the influence of the Bengal School of Art in the 1950s to develop a new artistic idiom. On offer is a collection of avatars – graphical representations of people – very similar to profile pictures posted on social media today. Buyers can choose to buy either the original artwork or the NFT or both. Bidding starts on January 14 at 7 pm (IST).
Street art is the theme of Phillips’ private exhibition that opens on January 13 and will run till February 20. The exhibition presents a broad cross-section of works of graffiti artists of New York and Los Angeles to acknowledge their contribution towards shaping 21st-century contemporary art. It also features works by renowned artists like Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and others who also contributed to this movement.
While art auctions may require deep pockets, you can now buy affordable artworks by young and underrepresented South Asian artists from Terrain.art – a unique NFT platform that offers exciting new works backed by blockchain technology.