Spear's Year in Review: Art

Spear's coverage of Planet Art continued apace from the weird (two artists using lynx showergel as a medium, Francis Bacon cushions and David Walsh's underground museum) to the truly wonderful.

The year in art, like the academic year, doesn’t really start until autumn, when London fires a fizzing flare into the air and art-hungry shoppers – sorry, shopping-hungry art-lovers – grab their trolleys and do a sweep of Frieze Week’s fairs. Spear’s was, of course, by the starting line, encouraging some on and tripping others up. My most alarming discovery of this year was that there are now at least two artists working in the medium of Lynx shower gel.

There were plenty of Frieze Week highlights, however. Frieze Masters, the new fair for pre-2000 art, was an unqualified success, with stunning booths from Acquavella and Pace and none of the gaudy bunfighting which makes Frieze London so unbearable. My other favourite fair was Sunday, with young galleries, emerging artists and fresh things to say.

Spear’s coverage of art, artists, art galleries, art investment, the art market and everything else from Planet Art continued apace, beginning in February with our Art & Collecting Special. Damien Hirst talked to Anthony Haden-Guest about not painting his own work, while Ivan Lindsay reckoned that Picasso’s Blue period was about as blue-chip an art-stock as you can get.

Also in the special, I had the pleasure of visiting David Walsh’s bizarre but entrancing underground sex-and-death museum in Tasmania and finding out how philanthropy is supporting the Sydney arts scene.

We acquired a first-rate art blogger this year in Kenny Schachter – his irreverent views are always worth a read – while I had an unfortunate encounter with artist Clive Head. Spear’s saw what happens when art meets merchandise: Francis Bacon cushions anyone?

At the Masterpiece art fair, which Spear’s media-partnered, we held a debate on what makes a masterpiece, with panellists including Philip Mould and Edmondo di Robilant. Philip talked of his love for sketches: ‘They’re like the scribblings of poets or the humming of a musician’s tune in his head.’

As our Arts Editor, Anthony Haden-Guest brought Spear’s prime stories all year long: he talked to Gilbert and George about life as an artwork; he discovered how artists can boost property prices [http://]; and he spoke to two key feminist artists, Penny Slinger and Judy Chicago.

Ivan Lindsay also wondered about women and art, in particular why women have never fetched men’s prices at auction. His pieces on the benefits and dangers of restoring old paintings and what happens to national art collections in a revolution were most enjoyable too.

Auction record after auction record fell this year, but we took another angle on art and money with Melanie Gerlis’ piece on people who have moved from the City’s towers to Mayfair’s galleries, which went to show (contrary to popular belief) that money really isn’t everything.

Art and money interact in other positive ways too. I enjoyed interviewing Benedict Silverman, who is selling his £100-million collection of German and Austrian art – think top works by Schiele, Dix, Grosz – and giving the proceeds to charity.

It is one of Mr Silverman’s quotes which doesn’t just sum up the year in art for me but a life in art. ‘Every picture I collected,’ he says, ‘had emotional impact for me. Serious, real emotional impact — not all of it unpleasant emotional impact, some of it quite pleasant — but they all had impact, stomach, gut.’ That is the best summary of what art should be about.
 
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