Art/Design, History & Now

Art in review: top 5 Art moments of 2021

How many did you catch?

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Jan 4, 2022

The year 2021 was meant to be when the world was restored to normalcy. After a bleak year marked by uncertainty, museums, galleries, concert venues, and eateries all reopened their doors.


The art world had its share of unforgettable events throughout this past year of ups and downs, with a handful of auction-breaking sales, spectacular estate finds, assertive statement works, and the unmistakable entrance of NFTs.


Here are our top 5 art moments of 2021:


Photo via Tyrone Siu/Reuters

Hand-Painted NFT by Sophia the Robot 

The worlds of humans and robots are becoming increasingly entwined, so it was only a matter of time before the latter joined the NFT movement. Sophia the Robot, the world’s most famous humanoid, made news in March when a hand-painted “self-portrait” sold at an auction for over $688,000 USD. Sophia created an image of her face in the 12-second .mp4 file, which is subsequently processed by the robot’s neural networks. Sophia, a robot created in 2016 by Hanson Robotics in Hong Kong, has received worldwide acclaim for its conversational abilities and capacity to display nuanced facial expressions. Since then, the robot has been on a number of discussion shows and in a film.


Photo via Grande Experiences

“Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience”

In 2021, immersive exhibitions were all the rage, with the Van Gogh installation leading the way. Fans of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings marveled at 360-degree digital displays and virtual reality experiences of eight of his most famous pieces. The public can still visit “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience,” which has been extended through January 2022, after reviewing CDC guidelines to ensure correct COVID protocol before going.


Photo via AllRightsReserved


KAWS:HOLIDAY, a gigantic installation, made its most recent trip to Singapore last month. The Ryan Foundation, a non-profit organization, filed for an interim injunction charging breach of intellectual property rights and abuse of confidential information, and the 42-foot COMPANION sculpture with a smaller COMPANION within its arms was temporarily ordered to be removed. After a two-day dispute, the courts approved the sculpture for public viewing and ordered The Ryan Fountain to pay AllRightsReserved’s legal costs.


Photo via Sotheby’s

Frida Kahlo Breaks Latin Artist’s Auction Record 

Sotheby’s November sale featured the famed Macklowe Collection, which included Frida Kahlo’s classic self-portrait, Diego y yo (Diego and I), which sold for a record-breaking $34.9 million USD. The artwork, created in 1949, shows the artist in a depressed mood, reflecting on her partner and fellow artist, Diego Rivera, and his sequence of adulterous activities. Rivera previously held the record for the highest price paid for a Latin American artist’s work when one of his paintings sold for $9.8 million dollars. The sale was dubbed “the ultimate revenge.”


Photo via Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s Reselling of Banksy’s Shredded Artwork for $25.4 Million USD

Banksy’s shredded artwork, Love is in the Bin, was resold to an anonymous Asian collector for $25.4 million USD, over 18 times its original price, at Sotheby’s. The former work, titled Girl With Balloon, was expected to entirely self-destruct when it was sold at an auction house in 2018, with the enigmatic artist verifying that through a video.


In related news, there’s now an NFT design space for you to be in VR.