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Five Spectacular Art Events that defined 2020

Pandemic Art Faire

Sarah Fox (SARAH FOX |

Obviously not an exhibition that existed during the pre-COVID-19 era, the Texas-based Pandemic Art Faire was launched as a digital-only event that’s “curated to aesthetically invigorate you during this time of self-quarantine.” Per its organizers, the fair will remain online through the duration of the pandemic, and new local artists will be added weekly. “This idea literally came out of the blue,” artist and fair co-founder Scott Kincaid tells the Dallas Morning News. “We talked about art fairs being canceled, and how we could quickly set up a fair online that could only be canceled by a computer virus. In about three minutes we had the name and concept. The next morning, Scott had the entire digital template designed, and I started reaching out to fellow artists.”

The fair is curated by Kincaid with the goal to provide artists with continued exposure during this time of intense isolation. The site will operate throughout the duration of the pandemic, with new artists being added on a weekly basis. Although the long-term future of the fair remains unknown, the founders are adamant that similar actions need to be taken in order to provide continuous support to the local community.

Art Paris

Grand Palais Éphémère - Wilmotte & Associés Architectes (Art Paris)

Art Paris, One of Europe’s First In-Person Fairs in Six Months, Shows Surprisingly Positive Signs for the Art Market

Buoyed by the local French scene, Art Paris was an “unexpected success.”

The fair went ahead on September 10 through 13, offering a model of what a socially distanced art fair could look like, with controlled crowd flow and attendees capped at 3,000 at a time in the main thoroughfare under the cavernous glass roof. Nonetheless, it welcomed some 56,931 visitors, just 10 percent fewer than last year.

Berlin Biennial

Sacral Bones, activation by Virginia de Medeiros in collaboration with DJ and MC Pêdra Costa and performers Marie Monteiro and Bárbara Richter, 8.2.2020

Dominated by Female Voices and Queer Perspectives, the Berlin Biennial Amplifies the Plights and Triumphs of Marginalized Communities.

Postponed from June to September, the show, called “The Crack Begins Within,” welcomed socially-distanced visitors across its four locations last weekend as one of the few international art events to physically open in Europe this year, despite rising infection rates. Curators María Berríos, Renata Cervetto, Lisette Lagnado, and Agustín Pérez Rubio—who are all based in South America—invited artists largely hailing from the Global South. The majority are women, many identify as queer, and few have yet to be widely exhibited in Europe.

7 Deaths of Maria Callas

Defying the Odds, Marina Abramović Presents the World Premiere of Her First-Ever Opera in Munich—Here’s What It’s Like

The artist takes to the stage to die seven times in highly anticipated performance about celebrity, love, and inner crisis.

Her first piece is opening at the resplendent and historic Bavarian State Opera House in Munich, Germany. The Serbian artist hosted the world premiere of her latest work, “7 Deaths of Maria Callas,” which had been delayed since April due to the coronavirus.

Louise Bourgeois: Drawings, 1947 – 2007

Hauser & Wirth, the venerable Zurich-based modern art gallery with outposts in London, New York, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, recently launched its first online-only exhibition featuring 14 drawings by prolific French-American artist Louise Bourgeois. “It’s a response to the current situation, in the sense that we’re all glued to our devices,” Marc Payot, president of Hauser & Wirth, told The Guardian. “Obviously, we’re not capable of going out into museums and galleries, but we’re still interested in art. This is a possibility to share that.” Hauser & Wirth has also launched From a Distance: Messages from Artists’ Homes and Studio, a special online video series that “aims to bring us all closer together as we navigate this new reality.”


The Pope's blessing in empty St Peter's Square

Pope Francis gives his address in a deserted St Peter’s Square. Photograph: VATICAN MEDIA/AFP via Getty Images

The pope’s blessing, Urbi et Orbi (To the city and the world) is usually reserved for Christmas Day and Easter Sunday, with thousands flocking to take part.

Images of the cloudy sky and the glistening square on Saturday, with the pope, alone, praying upon a platform illuminated by the faint light of six candelabras, travelled the world over. “For weeks now it has been evening,” he said. “Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives.”

“The pandemic has reminded us that we are all in the same boat,” he added. “The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules.”

“And now that we are in a stormy sea, we implore you: wake up, Lord!”

The hour-long blessing, which started at 6pm on Friday, was punctuated by moments of dramatic silence with the pope, standing, intent on praying, behind the famous “Miraculous Crucifix”, a wooden cross kept in the Church of Saint Marcellus which, according to devout Roman Catholics, saved Rome from the plague in 1522.


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