9 Fine art trends in 2020

And nothing was the same

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Photo by Stephan Henning on Unsplash

2020 fine art trends call for a new era and mobility of art. Gone are the days where art lovers or art likers just want to peruse quiet galleries. An overstimulated social age seems to be calling for art experiences to match. 

And as art and the way it is viewed ages, fine art trends of 2020 are paralleling and intersecting with the demands of a new art order. Some of those directions are visible and glaringly obvious–the graffiti writing was on the wall. Other trends may not have been considered at all. And still others, are long overdue as permanent fixtures of the curating protocol. 

Looking even closer, it is equally noticeable how much of the art world’s upward trends are entertaining and ultimately stress relieving. These connotations may have something to do with one umbrella trend for the entire year of 2020 that Trend Watching coined–The Burnout. 

And according to a burnout study by Kinnick et al. and another by Tei et al., findings show burnout as related to both compassion fatigue and excessive empathy. Both are also seen as correlating with “the nature of contemporary media coverage” of social problems which is a contributing factor in emotional fatigue (Kinnick et al.) and the outcome of “excessive empathy” and or “emotional dissonance,” (Tei et al.). 

Mounting emotional and psychological burnout in day-to-day life, with added information overload in the year of the pandemic,copious zoom meetings, endless streams of media wrestling for viewer attention; you get a global citizenry that’s crying out for a break.

So in the interest of a break, let’s take a field trip and check out the museum of fine art trends that keep on going and others that are steadily on their way.

1. Art is easily accessible and purchasable online

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Ayiana Stanley-Jones 7 years old/ 7 minutes of color by Adrian Brandon

People want to own the art they love. Artists of all mediums understand this, especially those that garnered their corners of social media early on. It’s not uncommon to be able to watch time-lapse videos of artists drawing or painting right on Instagram or Youtube. 

These time-lapsed videos easily turn into purchasable links where fans can buy those same pieces and exhibit them in their homes, such as Stolen by Adrian Brandon. 

In this recent series as a reflection of the deaths of unarmed black women, men, and children he offers time-lapsed coloring of portraits of those “Stolen” where the color that is visible is representative of the years they lived prior to their murders–1 minute of color for each year of life. 

With the advent of art now being viewable from the start of a piece to its completion, followers of artists are becoming equally as invested in the artist. Artists will find their fans also come from various economic statuses, that should not necessarily hinge on whether or not they can own a piece of that artist. So, with ease of access also comes various means of reproduction. Those who couldn’t afford art now can, with the use of digital reprints, e-wallpapers, downloads, and other low-cost means of duplication. 

Mobility and online visibility in fine art also supports those who cannot leave their homes due to immobility, disability, or city-wide lock-downs due to COVID-19. These circumstances make the internet an oyster and turn the web into a makeshift galleries and make independent artists and galleries household names. 

2. Social media takeover: collections are repostable in a flash 

In 2020 social media functions as a repository for everyday life. As individuals spend significant amounts of their screen time on apps like Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube and TikTok it makes sense that social media would demand artists, galleries and museums do the same. 

Opportunities to be repostable and as quickly as a post on Instagram are everywhere. 

For instance, MAC Fine Art has a video series where they critique and guide upcoming South Florida artists in a very repostable fashion.

The curation of art has to share space with social media, and in doing so allows fine art to become ever more common. In the age of the repost, it would certainly be a disservice if art collections the world over, weren’t also a part of the ongoing digital feed social media apps and sites produce. Afterall, isn’t art a participatory undertaking, meant for both the artist and the collector or viewer?

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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

3. Museum collections get a full makeover with artist mashups, mix-matching, and remixing

Art lovers don’t want to see the same passionless collections exhibited in the same uninspiring ways. Look at art much the same way as you would a gourmet doughnut. Old-fashion plain or glazed donuts are a staple and absolutely necessary in a bakery but throwing bacon or fruity pebbles on that same doughnut sky-rockets breakfast. 

In the same way, mixing different and unusual ingredients to make confectionary treats, museums are methodically taking risks to blend different artists and styles for a next level art experience.

The University of Cambridge hired an entire team of museum remixers to gut its porcelain collection due to its racist origins and museum visitors utter disregard for porcelain. The goal was to collaborate with the communities utilizing the museum to help determine how to present the collection. Which included experts on heritage. This lent itself to the creation of a “portable remix activity” where the museum remixers approach could be used by other museums whose collections needed a makeover.

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Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

4. Bringing in the margins: More art by women, lgbtq, and non western artists  

These remixes also include changing the makeup of artists exhibited. As museums have historically housed largely male artists, a cry for more diversity is burning holes in the canvas. 

Many museums are taking strides to be intentionally inclusive of women, non-white artists, and specifically lgbtq artists including specific tours of LGBTQ collections like the LGBTQ Met Tours and dedicated African American history museums such as the National Museum of African American History and Culture.  

5. Big galleries get bigger

The largest galleries in the world continue to add more square footage, while expanding their name unto specialized history. It only makes sense that as the world ages and so does civilization, world history would gain more breadth and depth. And at this same time, museums must develop and diversify their dimensions to include new human history. 

6. Donors don’t get free passes 

These expansions are no longer allowed to happen in a vacuum. A history of blood money from donors, racist ties, and wealthy families who got their money off the backs of public health crisis’ has not escaped museum territory. 

High donation amounts did not only benefit museum budgets on the backend but were also known to dictate the exhibits shown on the frontend. This almost ensured museums were obligated to their donors in ways that did a disservice to artists and visitors, such that nepotism kept certain collections completely out of sight and demographics of artists without opportunity to pass go. 

Tie this in with museums having historically forgone paper tracing, in favor of keeping a budget at all. As the first budgets to go within federal or local government funded entities are the arts. This haphazardness was almost encouraged, leading to many scandals and museum protests over the years. 

The public is now holding museums to a higher standard of integrity, demanding and requiring truth in donations. Forcing donations into the light also pressures museums to become more transparent and intentional about sleuthing their donors. Saying “we didn’t know” won’t pull the wool over any eyes.

7. The data is in the details

Use of data to connect with museum guests is also essential in 2020. Any small business, organization, or major corporation benefits from the use of data and analytics as a means of connecting with their consumer base. 

Likewise, data will tell museums and gallery owners what people want, how they want it, how often they want it, and who wants it.  Museums will become versions of Facebook and Instagram in their own right. Using what works to keep art alive as it begins to contour to 2020 and beyond.

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Los Angeles, United States, Museum of Ice Cream

8. Interactive and immersive museums: guests become the art 

And with that contouring is the highlight of museum goers lives as of late, the interactive museum. These immersive locales are turning down “Location. Location. Location.” and turning up “ Experience. Experience. Experience”–but there must be balance of course.

Museums are becoming synonymous with experience. People want to touch, feel, taste, AND see that the museum is good. These new approaches feed all learners. Some of the most popular museums of this kind are listed below, some of them were also limited time pop-ups.

Museum of Ice Cream, NY, New York (MOIC) calls itself a “sensory museum”. So your eyes aren’t the only thing going to the museum. This museum’s installations are meant to play on the imagination. The Rainbow Tunnel and Sprinkle Pool, has museum goers constantly raving. These museums are devoid of “DON’T TOUCH” signs but are more, “ PLEASE TOUCH”. You also aren’t expected to not salivate all over the installations. You can collect sweet treats of your own at each installation to eat while exploring or to save for the ride home. And the public gets to enjoy all the ice cream flavors the Museum of Ice Cream has to offer. MOIC is also located in San Francisco, CA.

Candytopia, MIA, Florida is like MOIC had a fraternal twin and called it Candytopia. The two are life-size versions of cult classics,Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Candyland board game on steroids. Visitors are greeted by staff in blue and white Oompa Loompa coveralls,and factory doors that open up to a library exhibit of knights made of complete jelly and licorice candies, marshmallow pools, cloud rooms, and more candy that you can eat, at every installation. 

CupNoodle Museum, Japan boasts of the history of the instant noodle, CUPNOODLES is also known by other names such as Top Ramen. At some of their interactive exhibits visitors can make their own chicken ramen by hand in the Chicken Ramen Factory including making their own noodles right down to the seasoning. Visitors can then make their own packaging for their CUPNOODLES and enjoy a theatre that gives a dramatic interactive reenactment of how CUPNOODLES came to be, especially being that it was the first of its kind, pioneering the instant noodle craze. Followed by the oft photographed Noodles Tunnel and the display of over 800 packages of Chicken Ramen. 

Color Factory, NY, New York was a 2017 art exhibit that was literally colorful and solely based on how color evokes elation and is more than just color, but houses of  meaning. The goal of the pop-up was to push the limits of perception and comprehension of color.

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Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

9. Museums & galleries come to Google Play and App stores

Galleries are becoming so immersed with 2020 culture cell phone users can locate several mega galleries in their local app stores. Many of these museum guides offer information about the exhibits in multiple languages, with included audio and visual. Quite frankly these guides are so good you don’t have to be physically present at the museum to learn a thing or two.  You’ll find these guides: 

  • MoMA Audio 
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art NYC
  • Louvre Museum Visitor Guide 
  • Louvre Visit & Guide
  • National Museum of African American History & Culture/ NMAAHC Mobile Stories 
  • Smithsonian Mobile
  • Canadian Museum of History Guide 

As these trends continue their rounds, it cannot go unnoticed how much art itself is always in flux. It also cannot be ignored how often trends bleed into others, or how they inevitably come back again. 

Nothing of them can be seen as purely original but it is how these collections, interactive exhibits, and artists, tell their stories. 

As the late C.S Lewis said, “Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”

Have you been original today?