Increasingly, social media is sucking us all in to its murky digital world and probably never more so than this year. While many of us have been in and out of self-isolation and lockdowns and just generally being encouraged to stay away from real-life interactions, apps like Instagram have offered a form of interaction and entertainment. There are definite downsides and toxicity to this increased screen time, but programmes like Instagram can also be a place of productivity, connectivity and social change. Here we look at the five Instagram posts that sum up the art world in 2020—for better or worse.
Quelle surprise: the biggest art-world topic on Instagram has been the pandemic. But art-lovers have found the funny side. From a one-eared Van Gogh who can’t wear his face mask properly, to a recreation of Leonardo’s Last Supper as a Zoom meeting, the coronavirus has been prime fodder for art memes.
Equally creative but market-driven is the #ArtistSupportPledge. The model, which invites artists to sell works for up to £200 and then pledge to spend £200 on pieces by other participating artists, has generated millions of pounds and has been a lifeline for artists.
Instagram went dark in June when George Floyd’s murder by police led to a protest campaign to post black squares. The art world joined in and while the posts garnered attention, many accused arts organisations—which have long been criticised for a woeful lack of diversity—of “virtue signalling”.
Cancel culture has thrived while we’ve been at home with only social media for company. Instagram accounts such as @cancelartgalleries and @changethemuseum are posting anonymous accusations of toxic behaviour, and sometimes bringing about real-life justice.
For millions, November brought about some of the year’s only good news: the end of Donald Trump’s presidency. The artist Kara Walker captured the mood. I’m with Kara: good riddance to him—and to 2020!