The Best Art World Collaborations of 2020
This year has given us a lot of brand collaborations. 2020 witnessed all sort of companies pursue this business strategy, from Travis Scott x McDonald’s to Supreme x Colgate and basically everyone in between. Some of the collaborations were extremely successful (Travis Scott actually caused some McDonald’s locations to run an ingredient shortage) and some were less so (Cole Haan x Slack sneakers were released almost three months ago and are still not sold out).
So with all of these collaborations happening, why do some work better than others? What needs to happen in order to make a brand collaboration truly GREAT?
The most impactful collaborations happen when they are not created (solely) as marketing stunts, but as partnerships that change or enhance the way a consumer looks at a brand.
A brand’s goal in a collaboration should be either 1) to re-contextualize the brand’s identity and enable it to be viewed in a new light or 2) to strengthen the brand’s existing identity by aligning it with collaborators that share similar values. Brand collaborations don’t always get this right, but when they do the outcomes flourish.
AndArt Agency is focused on creating synergies between global brands and the ART WORLD, so narrowing our focus to that topic, here are five of our favorite art world collaborations of 2020: [EDIT: Medium/Instagram embed appears to be down right now, click on the Instagram link for each post to view photos / videos of the collaborations]
J. Paul Getty Museum x Animal Crossing
Forced to close due to the pandemic, galleries and museums were faced with the gargantuan task of keeping their visitors engaged through shut doors. Galleries all over the world turned to social media, trying to outdo each other with creative content. The J. Paul Getty Museum however, seeing an alternative opportunity, embraced the world of virtual reality.
In April 2020, the Getty teamed up with Nintendo‘s ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’, a life stimulation video game, to launch the ‘Animal Crossing Art Generator’. The feature allows players to upload their favorite artworks from the museum’s collection into their virtual worlds. Once uploaded, players have a range of options from using the works as a pattern for clothing or wallpaper, to displaying the paintings on easels and building their dream gallery.
Despite the low resolution of the images somewhat hindering user’s ability to fully appreciate the artworks, the generator immensely helped the Getty gain a foothold on popular culture and allowed the museum to successfully continue to connect with their audiences through an alternative and creative approach. Hanging Monet’s ‘Wheatstacks’ in your home has never been easier!
Kerry James Marshall & Jordan Casteel x Vogue
In 128 years of Vogue’s history only five have artists have ever been invited to paint a work for a cover of the magazine. That was until this year, when artists Jordan Casteel and Kerry James Marshall were invited to join the storied ranks of other great artists and that number went up to seven.
The September issue of this year’s magazine featured two covers, one painted by Casteel and one by Marshall. Each artist was told that they were free to depict whatever they wished as long as they abided by one condition: the cover had to feature someone (real or imaginary) wearing a dress from one of four Vogue-selected designers.
Casteel chose to depict fashion designer and activist Aurora James in a blue silk Pyer Moss dress. Marshall, on the other hand, decided to create a fictional character (as is generally the case in his paintings) and dress her in a formal evening dress by Virgil Abloh’s Off-White label. In describing their works, both artists expressed ‘hope’ as being one of the main themes they wished to impart on the readers of the magazine.
Alexandre Benjamin Navet x Van Cleef & Arpels
When approached with the colossal task of redesigning more than thirty boutiques around the world for Van Cleef & Arpels, the Paris-based multidisciplinary artist Alexandre Benjamin Navet, sought to create an immersive experience, as if ‘walking through a giant sketchbook’ — a real-life jaunt into the mind of the artist.
The French luxury jewellery designer approached Navet with ideas for a collaboration soon after the artist was awarded the grand prize at the 2017 Design Parade Toulon, an annual interior design festival sponsored by the house.
Earlier in the year, the first phase of several redesigned boutiques were unveiled, more of which will be unveiled in the coming months. For the major boutiques, such as the flagship store in New York, Navet reimagined both the exterior and interior, including the wallpaper, carpets, facade and more. Each design and artwork is location-specific and adapted to reflect the culture of each individual city.
Marrying the house’s historical connection and enduring love for flowers (a theme the artist had never previously explored) with their goal of spreading positivity and hope, Navet’s designed his whimsical floral world with the intention of leaving the visitor feeling inspired and optimistic — a very rosy idea indeed.
KAWS x Sons & Daughters
In November, the Hong-Kong based children’s eyewear brand Sons + Daughters, released a limited-edition collection of sunglasses designed by the American artist Brian Donnelly, better known as KAWS.
The design takes inspiration from the KAWS ‘COMPANION’ character, featuring his iconic hands reaching over the frame and his signature XX motif marking the circular lenses. Available in three different colors including pink, grey and black, the sunglasses come in an accompanying artist-designed storage case.
As Sons + Daughters first artist collaboration, it is no surprise that the sunglasses have generated intense interest — they are sold out on the brand’s website and eager fans are already calling for an adult-sized version.
Meissen x Adidas
This year was also the year that two pioneers of German design, Europe’s oldest porcelain manufacturer, Meissen, and Adidas, teamed up for the first time to create an exclusive one-off hand-crafted sneaker: the ZX8000 Porcelain.
The design married the Adidas popular ZX8000 silhouette with themes and motifs taken from Meissen’s quintessential Krater Vase. Adorned with 15 of the Vase’s 130 different patterns, including the distinctive Chinese dragon and a rich mix of floral and aquatic motifs, the sneakers weigh exactly 950 grams. Made from premium leather and featuring handmade porcelain overlays, the sneakers were crafted by artisans who hand-painted and assembled the sneakers over the course of a year.
The collectable sneakers were offered at Sotheby’s in a single-lot online auction and sold for $120k; all proceeds from the sale were donated to the Brooklyn Museum in New York. If these were a tad out of your budget, fear not as commercially available ZX10000 inspired by the one-of-a-kind piece were be released later in the month.