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The most sought-after themes for artwork in lockdown

The most sought-after themes for artwork in lockdown

Throughout most of 2020, and well into 2021, people all over the world have found themselves in periods of lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. With stay-home orders and travel bans keeping most confined to their homes and gardens, we saw artwork sales skyrocket as people sought to bring life and colour to the walls around them – and now we’re taking a look at the styles and themes that have proven most popular.

Searching for scenery to bring home

Lockdown 1: 

  • During the first national lockdown in the UK (from 23rd March 2020 to 15th June 2020) there were 74.3% more searches on Artfinder for artwork containing trees, and 94.2% more searches for artworks containing beaches, than in the previous period.

Searches for art on the theme of the sea also rose 50.2%, as many people turned to artwork to replicate sunny spring views from countrysides and coastlines in their homes, in lieu of their usual outdoor activities. Interest in natural scenery was echoed in Google searches over the same time period, with search engine users racking up 27.2% more searches for ‘forest artwork’ on Google UK during the first lockdown than in any previous time period.

“Pablo Picasso once said that ‘art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life’” remarks Michal Szczesny, CEO of Artfinder, “and all over the UK, and indeed all over the world, we can see that people have been washing away the dust of stay-home orders by seeking out art that depicts soul-soothing settings such as beaches, forests and oceans.”

Lockdown 2:

As restrictions started to tighten up again in September, and tiered regional lockdowns were gradually introduced, searches for ‘forest artwork’ on Google UK leapt up once more – with overall search volumes now higher than they had been at any point in the previous three years.

  • Having boomed during the first national lockdown, searches for forest-themed art peaked at 90.9% higher during September and October 2020 than during the same time in 2019. This spans the period of new post-summer restrictions being introduced on 14th September, to the move from the tiered system into a new national lockdown on 31st October.

  • Google data for 2020 also shows a spike in searches for ‘beach artwork’ during the second national lockdown, with 23.8% more searches during November 2020 than in the previous month, an increase of 52.9% on the same period in 2019. The UK’s second full lockdown ran from 31st October to 2nd December 2020.

Abstract visuals for a difficult winter

The third national lockdown, which kicked off on the 4th January 2021, saw buyers turn to abstract imagery in their droves, alongside a sustained interest in natural scenes. Though abstract artworks didn’t prove quite as popular as beach scenes, nudes, and art depicting dogs, they made it into the top five searches on Artfinder ahead of seas, trees and forests.

“By the beginning of 2021, we see buyers turning from familiar, often comforting scenes, to artworks that may in some instances feel more intense, more profound, and which are not rooted in those sights that people are missing as a result of still being stuck indoors.” Michal goes on to say.

“Arshile Gorsky once described abstract art as ‘the emancipation of the mind’, and that’s something I think a lot of people were in need of by the third lockdown – something beyond the known and the tangible. Abstract artworks are often popular, and it isn’t entirely surprising to see them become one of the most sought-after genres at a time when ‘reality’ has grown tiresome.”

A new meaning for rainbows

Rainbows have had a range of symbolic meanings over the centuries, from acting as a symbol of faith and hope, to association with the peace and free love movements of the 1960s, and later adoption as the most recognisable symbol of LGBTQ+ pride around the world.

In 2020, rainbows took centre stage as the newly-adopted symbol of the NHS struggle against Covid-19 – and art buyers were keen to adorn walls and windows with rainbows of their own.

  • During the first UK lockdown, there was a 370.3% increase in searches for artwork containing rainbows on Artfinder, compared to the previous period.

  • Google data shows an increase of 1380% in searches for ‘rainbow art’ between January and April 2020, with searches remaining 60% higher than average throughout the rest of the year, even after the initial peak in interest had passed.

“What better representation of the search for vibrancy and colour in dark times, than the humble rainbow?” Michal adds. “What’s wonderful about this particular artwork trend is that it’s such a unifying concept among an entire nation. Not only on Artfinder but also on the wider web, we can see that huge numbers of people were brought together by this one movement. Whatever your personal taste in art, it’s inspiring to know that shared experiences have caused thousands of people to seek out paintings, sculptures, prints and other works relating to a unifying theme.”

At Artfinder, we believe that art is for everyone. Explore art for the soul, art for life, art for your home, here.

Header image by Oleksii Vylusk

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