Art In The Time of Covid

How people turned to travel-themed works of fine arts, films and books during the peak of the pandemic
Seascape Near Atlantic City by William Trost Richards sold for a whopping $195,000. Picture credit Heritage Auctions,
Seascape Near Atlantic City by William Trost Richards sold for a whopping $195,000. Picture credit Heritage Auctions,

Art and travel have been in tandem with each other since the beginning. From Leonardo Da Vinci to Botticelli, all artists have travelled extensively while drawing inspiration from their experiences. Cut to this century and a pandemic that shut us inside our homes. Anticipating something like Covid-19 was never on the cards and when it hit, people panicked thinking they might never be able to go out like before. In 2020 at the peak of the pandemic, demand for art that was related to travelling saw a spike. It isn&rsquot difficult to gauge what prompted the sudden uptick in the category. 1stdibs&nbspis an e-commerce site dedicated to fine art and jewellery, which saw a 56% uptick in demand for artworks to the previous year. Seascape Near Atlantic City&nbspby William Trost Richards was one of the high-ticket items that were sold. Can you guess what the painting was about Tranquil scenes filled with sunlight dancing between the waves, taking the viewer to the seaside while they&rsquore stuck at home. The simple oil painting sold for a whopping $195,000. 

From an economic standpoint, the culture and arts sector was one of the worst hit during the pandemic, with no way of people coming together to make art or being allowed to go see it. But the paradox was seen in its intense demand with shut-ins turning to films, books, and travel-themed artworks in a bid to escape. &ldquoMy bestselling prints were Hills and Skies which is a picture I took in Landour, and Bohemian Breeze- a shot of orange sunset in Daman,&rdquo says Aastha Bisaria, who started selling photographs during the lockdown through Instagram. &ldquoI had so many great monochromes and abstracts but people only seemed to want those two.&rdquo

Numerous publications were selling articles about &lsquoBest travel movies to binge on during quarantine&rsquo and &lsquoEscape into foreign lands through these books,&rsquo and people were desperate for a distraction. More than travelling, it was human connection that most felt deprived of and in turned craved for. New York Times bestselling author, Suleika Jaouad started Isolation Journals- an artist-led community and publishing platform during the pandemic. Each week writers, celebrated artists and renowned names in the world of art and culture would share a prompt for people to create and look back on. 

In 2021 as restrictions started to lift, sales of travelogues and travel guidebooks spiked with Anthony Bourdain&rsquos bestselling, &ldquoWorld Travel An Irreverant Guide&rdquo, leading the show in the US market. Many readers took to travel-related books during and even after the lockdown. &ldquoI used to paint and work on the Isolation Journals prompt while reading Peter Mayle&rsquos A Year in Provence,&rdquo says literature student Ishani Chakraverty. &ldquoIt&rsquos still my go-to book to curl in bed with.&rdquo 

Now that travel has resumed and life seems to have fallen back on track, maybe the demand for travel-themed art and literature fuelled by people&rsquos desperation will subside &ldquoNow that I no longer sell my prints, my travel photographs still get the most appreciation and likes on Instagram,&rdquo Bisaria adds.

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