The Best Videos of 2016

By Sotheby's

I n 2016, no medium captured the excitement happening at Sotheby’s worldwide quite like video. From the sale of superstar David Bowie’s art collection to a new series inside one of Britain’s greatest houses, each week we shared the remarkable stories behind the treasures entrusted to us. Providing fresh perspectives, filmmaker John Waters, actor Jeremy Irons, artist Eric Fischl and actress Jennifer Tilly appeared onscreen, and paintings by Orazio Gentileschi and Henri Matisse were brought to life in imaginative new reinterpretations. To mark such a momentous year, our executive producer selected her twelve favourite films that prove how art is an endless source of inspiration.


1. The Wisdom of Matisse

This charming interpretation of one of the finest works from Henri Matisse’s early Nice period is based on reflections and memories from a fictional Matisse. This videos charming inspiration, La Leçon de piano, sold for $10.8 million in our Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 3 February in London.

2. First Look: Wines from the Cellar of William I. Koch

One of the most exciting offerings of Sotheby’s spring auction season in New York was Wines from the Cellar of William I. Koch. Mr. Koch’s enviable collection is one of the largest private collections ever assembled and the three-day sale included over 20,000 bottles. In this video, Mr. Koch gives a personal tour of the spectacular wine cellar in his Palm Beach residence.

3. Jeremy Irons Brings Francis Bacon's Words to Life

As Francis Bacon said, “Everything I do goes into painting.” In this short video, Academy Award-winning actor Jeremy Irons brings to life excerpts from the artist’s interviews with David Sylvester and revealed Bacon’s own thoughts about his celebrated self-portraits. Two Studies for a Self-Portrait, painted by the artist in 1970, sold for nearly $35 million during Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction in New York on 11 May 2016.

4. Legendary Filmmaker John Waters On the Audacity of Cy Twombly

What is it like to live with a work by post-war master Cy Twombly? According to legendary filmmaker John Waters, it’s “great because every day when you pass it you think of his nerve. The audacity of him doing this.” Watch our video to find out more about John Waters’ longstanding admiration for the artist and to see the two Twombly paintings that sold in Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction on 11 May in New York.

5. First Look: Bowie/Collector

Musician. Actor. Icon. David Bowie was one of the most recognisable and revered artists in the world. The legendary performer was also a passionate collector with deep connections to modern and contemporary artworks and their makers. Sotheby’s was honoured to present Bowie/Collector, a three-part sale encompassing some 400 objects from the personal holdings of a man who approached collecting with the same inspired sense of individualism that defined his own fiercely original art.

6. T.O.P on Art, Creativity and Collaboration

“Art can be life-changing, and I am constantly entranced by it,” says South Korean entertainer and passionate collector T.O.P. Ahead of the #TTTOP sale on 3 October in Hong Kong, the K-pop superstar told us more about the artworks he chose and his meaningful collaboration with Sotheby's.

7. A Painter's Painter: Eric Fischl on Edvard Munch

Edvard Munch is "somebody who has faced and captured the experience of the things that are deeply a part of our lives," says Eric Fischl. In this video, filmed in the contemporary American artist’s studio, Fischl discusses Munch’s painterly style. One of the artists most powerful masterpieces, Pikene på broen (Girls on the Bridge) sold for $54.5 million in Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening auction on 14 November in New York.

8. Foo Fighters Drummer Taylor Hawkins on Collecting, Rock & Roll Style

In advance of Sotheby’s 10 December auction A Rock & Roll Anthology: From Folk to Fury, Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins talked about how living with rock & roll memorabilia is like being surrounded by old friends. He also offered his personal take on some of the highlights from the sale including an original awning from the legendary punk club CBGB.

9. László Moholy-Nagy’s Fascinating Take on Performance Art

Interested in avant-garde methods of production, László Moholy-Nagy pioneered the use of industrial technology in art making. His 1922-23 work, EM 1 Telephonbild, which sold for $6.1 million at Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale in New York, exemplifies the artist’s pure and geometric abstraction created during his years at the Bauhaus. Watch this animated video to discover Moholy-Nagy's unique process, and why this work is a true masterwork of 20th-century conceptual art.

10. Frank’s Files: Decades of Jewels with Jennifer Tilly and Cameron Silver

In this special edition of Frank’s Files, Frank Everett and actress Jennifer Tilly went on location to Decades, the legendary house of vintage couture in Los Angeles. Cameron Silver, the shop's founder and fashion director, styled one-of-a-kind gowns with classic pieces from Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels sale on 8 December in New York.

11. Treasures from Chatsworth, Episode 1 – Lucian Freud’s Woman in a White Shirt

A portrait of Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire, commissioned from Lucian Freud, caused a sensation in British society. Now Woman in a White Shirt is “probably the most beautiful thing at Chatsworth,” says the current Duke, who recalled the close friendship between Freud and the Cavendish family in the series premiere of Sotheby’s original video series, Treasures from Chatsworth, Presented by Huntsman.

12. Reimagining Gentileschi’s Danaë

Sotheby’s invited Pamela Romanowsky, writer and director of The Adderall Diaries, starring James Franco, to create a film inspired by Orazio Gentileschi’s Danaë – which led Sotheby’s Master Paintings sale when it sold for $30.5 million on 28 January in New York. Watch this beautiful and modern interpretation of the moment when Zeus reveals himself to Danaë and changes her life forever.

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