At Large  December 31, 2021  Art & Object Staff

10 Most Popular Art Stories of 2021

Created: Fri, 12/31/2021 - 09:00
Author: anna

Hieronymus Bosch, detail from the right panel of The Temptation of St. Anthony, c. 1501. Oil on oak panels. 52 in × 90 in. Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga.

Join us in bidding 2021 goodbye with a review of our ten best stories of the year! Below, you'll find the names of our biggest stories, preview text, and direct links to each.

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10. Bob Ross Helps Banksy Stage a Prison Break


When a spray-painted mural appeared on the brick walls of the defunct Reading Prison in England, many suspected that Banksy, the famed anonymous graffiti artist, was behind it. Indeed, a few days later, Banksy confirmed the work to be his in a video posted to his Instagram account. In what is sure to go down in Internet meme lore, the video confession opens like an episode of PBS’ The Joy of Painting. The iconic show’s late star Bob Ross narrates the video in his trademark soothing style and seemingly instructs Banksy as the graffiti artist engages in his latest act of vandalism. 

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9. 7 Strange Details in Hieronymus Bosch Paintings Explained


It is now largely agreed that Bosch’s paintings were made with very specific intentions in mind to instruct and communicate. The artist used traditional symbols but also created his own, referencing the Bible and Flemish folklore to create unique visual manifestations of established metaphors and puns. All of this is to say, the moralistic bent of Bosch’s paintings—however fantastical their imagery—do fall seamlessly in line with the didactic literature of the late medieval period.

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8. The History of the Heart Shape


Widely recognized as a symbol for love and affection, the heart shape has evolved over centuries. It may be hard to believe the double-scalloped ideogram with the v-shaped base hasn’t been around forever, as these heart-shapes are a constant in modern life: one of the most widely used emojis is the heart. How did this ubiquitous symbol, which shows up everywhere from text messages to fine art, come to be? Its evolution is unclear, but there are some theories.

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7. The Artworks Selected by the Bidens for the White House


As we approach the end of President Biden’s first full week in office, the list of notable changes in the White House is quite long. One of these changes is the artwork on display. Though it may seem frivolous in the face of the crises that this president, in particular, must face, the decor of the First Family—and especially in the Oval Office—is strategically designed to send a message to the American people and the world at large.

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courtesy of Philemona Williamson
6. 10 Contemporary Black Artists You Should Know More About


Throughout history, countless ethnic groups and marginalized people have not been given the attention they deserve from the art world. This slideshow is dedicated to black, contemporary artists that we believe our readers should know more about. Many of these artists' works both acknowledge the art world's exclusionary history and subvert it. The artworks highlighted here span drawing, painting, quilting, and sculptural practice.

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5. 8 Bizarre Facts About Salvador Dalí


Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí may be best known for the dream-like paintings he created throughout his life, but the man was just as strange as his work.

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4. A Brief History of Van Gogh’s Starry Night


Today, Vincent van Gogh stands as one of the most celebrated artists of the nineteenth century, and his painting, The Starry Night, completed in 1889, is not only one of his most famous works, but also one of the most famous paintings in the world. Yet van Gogh and his beloved painting were not always as famous as they are today. And even today, few people know a great deal about his artistic process. Most are satisfied to know his name and vague 'facts' about his mental health. 

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3. 10 Films About Art Worth Watching


Truly great films can be hard to come by, especially with the endless options afforded by streaming platforms these days. That's why Art & Object is bringing you this curated list of top options. Now, learning about the lives and works of great artists can be as easy as plopping down on the couch. Here are some films about art you don't want to miss.

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2. 12 African American Artists You Should Know More About


African American artists have contributed to this nation’s cultural landscape throughout its history. From colonial to modern times and realistic portraiture to minimalistic sculpture and striking abstractions, these diverse works and artists deserve more credit. Here we highlight twelve African American artists you should know more about.

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1. The 10 Best Art Schools in the U.S.


Art & Object's 2021 ranking of America's top art schools showcases the best of the best. We have taken the top schools from our regional rankings and compared them to create this final top ten. Spanning coast to coast, featuring institutions of all sizes—this list encompasses an incredible range of schools that offer the finest art education.

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