2023 was a year filled with both sensational and innovative developments in the world of art. Especially in the realm where artificial intelligence and augmented reality played significant roles, the art scene continued its digital transformation. It can be said that this brought both positive and negative aspects for artists, galleries, and art enthusiasts.
Although we witnessed many significant developments and exhibitions, this year did not provide true satisfaction for artists. As we leave behind 2023, considered by many as a transitional period, let’s take a look at the most memorable art news that lingered in our minds.
1. British Museum Faces Antiquities Scandal
The British Museum was rocked by a major antiquities scandal in 2023, discovering 2,000 missing, stolen, and damaged objects in its collection archives. A senior curator was fired, and director Hartwig Fischer resigned amid questions about the safety of artifacts like the Benin Bronzes and Parthenon Marbles.
2. Climate Activists Target Artworks
Climate activists worldwide made headlines by targeting artworks in museums. Attacks included hammering Velázquez’s “The Toilet of Venus” in London and smearing red paint on Degas’ sculpture in Washington, D.C. Activists aimed to raise awareness about the urgency of the climate crisis.
3. Yayoi Kusama’s Apology for Racist Comments
Renowned artist Yayoi Kusama issued a long-overdue apology for racist statements in her 2003 autobiography, sparking a conversation about the use of derogatory language. Kusama’s apology preceded an exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, drawing attention to the artist’s past.
4. AI-Generated Image Wins
Artist Boris Eldagsen won the World Photography Organization’s Sony World Photography Awards with an AI-generated image titled “The Electrician.” However, he forfeited the prize, emphasizing the need for a discussion on the distinction between AI images and traditional photography.
5. Hank Willis Thomas’s Controversial MLK Monument
The unveiling of a Boston monument by artist Hank Willis Thomas honoring Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King became an unintended viral meme, drawing both praise and ridicule for its unconventional depiction. The sculpture, titled “The Embrace,” sparked debates on symbolic unity.
6. Controversy Over Teaching Michelangelo’s David in Florida
A controversy erupted in Florida when the former principal of Tallahassee Classical School resigned after parents complained about teaching Michelangelo’s David to sixth-grade students, deeming it “pornographic.” The situation fueled discussions on censorship and art education.
7. Investigations on Human Remains Implicate Museums
Investigations exposed the Smithsonian and the American Museum of Natural History for unethical practices related to human remains. The collections included brain specimens obtained without consent and bodies donated by marginalized groups, raising questions about repatriation.
8. Elliott Erwitt’s Passing at 95
Renowned photographer Elliott Erwitt, known for capturing iconic images, passed away at the age of 95. His death was announced by the Magnum Photography Collective, and no specific cause was provided.
9. The Rijksmuseum’s’s Vermeer Exhibition
The Rijksmuseum’s Vermeer exhibition, featuring 28 of the 37 attributed paintings, became a blockbuster, attracting 650,000 visitors from 113 countries. The intense public interest demonstrated the enduring appeal of Vermeer’s work.
10. 50th Anniversary of Picasso’s Death
A Surplus of Exhibitions 2023 marked the 50th anniversary of Picasso’s death, leading to a surplus of exhibitions across the globe. While some gained widespread attention, others were largely ignored. The abundance of Picasso exhibitions raised questions about the necessity of staging 50 shows to reaffirm his enduring significance in the art world.