A s we enter 2022, Sotheby’s is taking the opportunity to not only celebrate those who have defined our appreciation of culture, creativity and beauty in recent times, but also to look to the future and debate how we can all play our part in shaping it, responsibly.
Karl Lagerfeld had a strong – and elegantly-gloved – hand in inspiring the fashion sense of millions over the decades, and his death in 2019 marked the loss of one of the industry’s greatest minds. This December, Sotheby’s hosts a sale of his estate, a glorious treasure trove of personal objects that offer a remarkable insight into his world, including his deep love for art and design. It’s a tribute, Caroline Roux says, to an “international icon with rock star fame”.
As we step into a new era, there are many crucial conversations to be had. The Cop26 conference held in Scotland in November was a critical reminder of the urgent role all industries must play in tackling climate change – and the art world is no exception. Amah-Rose Abrams speaks to collectors, gallerists and institution directors about the work they are doing to make art more sustainable, and why it now has to be about “action over words”.
In talking through these questions, we’re reminded that fears for the future of the world as we know it can be found in art dating back centuries, and perhaps nowhere more strikingly than in the work of Sandro Botticelli. In The Man of Sorrows, which comes to auction at Sotheby’s in January, the artist echoes some of the profound themes expressed in epochal works such as Leonardo Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi. As Andrew Graham-Dixon writes, the “sense of awe, mingled with dread” in the face of an impending apocalypse characterises a work that “expressed the doubts and fears of an anxious age”, but also poignantly reflects Botticelli’s unwavering belief in salvation.
At Sotheby’s, while we learn from the Old Masters, we’re also at the cutting edge of the market when it comes to fresh ideas for the future. One of the biggest trends of 2021 has been the rise of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which have reshaped the art market at lightning speed. October saw the launch of Sotheby’s Metaverse, a new NFT trading platform, as well as a new NFT educational programme in partnership with MCA Denver. It is a bold commitment to the transformative potential of this technology, and in a fascinating exploration of this dynamic new medium, Sophie Haigney looks how NFTs can outlast the hype and sustain an exciting new model for collectors.
The message underpinning all these stories is one of hope. And that feeling will be inspiring all of our work this coming year. Now is the time to respond, react, and make a difference.