1961 in art
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- January 5 – Italian sculptor Alfredo Fioravanti marches into the United States consulate in Rome and confesses that he was part of the team that forged the Etruscan terracotta warriors in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
- March 2 – Release of British film The Rebel starring Tony Hancock, satirizing artistic pretensions.
- May 29–June 17 – War Babies exhibition at the Huysman Gallery in Los Angeles featuring the work of Joe Goode, Larry Bell, Ed Bereal and Ron Miyashiro. Controversy generated by the exhibition's poster leads to the gallery closing down soon after the exhibition ends.
- August 21 – Goya's Portrait of the Duke of Wellington is stolen from the National Gallery in London three weeks after first going on display there.
- First Fluxus event organised by George Maciunas at the AG Gallery in New York.
- Yves Klein patents his use of International Klein Blue.
- Publication in the United States of Irving Stone's biographical novel of Michelangelo, The Agony and the Ecstasy.
- Alexander Archipenko – Queen of Sheba (sculpture)
- Peter Blake – Self-portrait with badges
- M. C. Escher – Waterfall (lithograph)
- Jane Frank – Crags and Crevices
- Alberto Giacometti – L'Homme qui marche I (bronze)
- Rodney Gordon – Michael Faraday Memorial (Elephant and Castle, London)
- Barbara Hepworth – Curved Form (Bryher) (bronze)
- David Hockney – We Two Boys Together Clinging
- Friedensreich Hundertwasser – Houses in Rain of Blood
- Jasper Johns – Map
- Mati Klarwein – Annunciation
- Roy Lichtenstein
- Piero Manzoni – Artist's Shit (90 tin cans)
- Joan Miró – Bleu II
- Robert Motherwell – Black on White
- Pablo Picasso – Jacqueline
- Mark Rothko – Orange, Red, Yellow
- William Scott – Mural for Altnagelvin Hospital, Derry
- Tony Smith – Cigarette (1/3) (environmental sculpture)
- David Wynne – Gorilla (polished marble, Crystal Palace Park, London)
- Yakovenko and Baranov – Garibaldi Monument in Taganrog
- Sacred Heart of Jesus (Indianapolis; approximate date)
- Stucco statue of Paul Bunyan (Trees of Mystery, Klamath, California)
- March 26 – Leigh Bowery, Australian performance artist, club promoter, actor, model and fashion designer (d. 1994)
- April 28 – Grenville Davey, English sculptor, winner of the Turner Prize
- September 21 – Kurt Jackson, English landscape painter
- October 24 – Lita Cabellut, Spanish painter
- Full date unknown – Shaun Greenhalgh, English art forger
- January 30 – John Duncan Fergusson, Scottish Colourist painter (b. 1874)
- February 11 – Kate Carew, American caricaturist (b. 1869)
- February 20 – Jane Emmet de Glehn American painter (b. 1873)
- March – Stanley Royle, English post-impressionist landscape painter (b. 1888)
- April 7 – Vanessa Bell, English painter and designer (b. 1879)
- June 6 – Alfons Karpiński, Polish painter (b. 1875)
- July 6 – Cuno Amiet, Swiss painter and sculptor (b. 1868)
- August 3 – Hilda Rix Nicholas, Australian painter (b. 1884)
- August 13 – Mario Sironi, Italian painter (b. 1885)
- October 1 – Sir William Reid Dick, Scottish sculptor (b. 1879)
- October 13 – Augustus John, Welsh painter (b. 1878)
- December 9 – Kosta Hakman, Serbian painter (b. 1899)
- December 13 – Grandma Moses, American folk artist (b. 1860)
- Full date unknown – Albert Swinden, English-born American painter (b. 1901)