The year 1979 in art involved some significant events and new works.
- November 15 – Art historian and former Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures Anthony Blunt's role as one of the 'Cambridge Five' double agents for the Soviet NKVD during World War II is revealed by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.
- The Xing xing ("The Stars Group") of 20 avant-garde Chinese artists (including Ma Desheng, Wang Keping, Huang Rui, Li Shuang, Qu Leilei, Ah Cheng and Ai Weiwei) stage an illegal exhibition outside the National Art Museum of China in Beijing.
- The Bauhaus Archive, designed by Alex Cvijanovic with Hans Bandel after Walter Gropius, is completed in West Berlin, Germany.
- Edward Delaney's statue of Wolfe Tone in Dublin is destroyed by terrorists.
- Michael Andrews – Melanie and Me Swimming
- Judy Chicago – The Dinner Party (collaborative installation, completed)
- Paul Delvaux – The Road to Rome
- Jenny Holzer – Truisms
- Lee Kelly – sculptures (Portland, Oregon)
- Jack Mackie and Charles Greening – Dancer's Series: Steps (bronze, Seattle)
- Andrzej Pitynski – The Partisans (aluminum sculpture)
- Enzo Plazzotta – Attitude II (Margot Fonteyn)
- John Rogers – 118 Modules (sculpture, Portland, Oregon)
- Michael Snow – Flight Stop (sculpture, Toronto Eaton Centre)
- Don Wilson – Holon (sculpture, Portland, Oregon)
- date unknown
- January 11 – Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, German-born French Art dealer (born 1884)
- February 3 – Aaron Douglas, American painter (born 1898)
- February 7 – Charles Tunnicliffe, British wildlife painter (born 1901)
- March 20 – Jean Charlot, French painter and illustrator (born 1898)
- April 5 – Eugène Gabritschevsky, Russian biologist and artist (born 1893)
- June 23 – Reynolds Stone, English wood engraver (born 1909)
- June 25
- July 13 – Ludwig Merwart, Austrian painter and graphic artist (born 1913)
- August 20 – Christian Dotremont, Belgian painter and poet (born 1922)
- August 29 – Ivon Hitchens, English painter (born 1893)
- September 17 – Paul Maze, French-born English Post-Impressionist painter (born 1887)
- November 8 – Edward Ardizzone, British writer and illustrator (born 1900)
- December 5 – Sonia Delaunay, Ukrainian-French artist (born 1885)
- December 23 – Peggy Guggenheim, American-born art collector (born 1898)
- December 26 – Karl Hubbuch, German painter, printmaker and draughtsman (born 1891)
- date unknown
- Tendler, Stewart; Bradley, Ian (1979-11-16). "Professor Blunt named as spy". The Times (60476). London. p. 1.