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[Best of 2013] The Year In Viral Art


“Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites” (1991/1999), by Mike Kelley was a strong contender for most twittered art piece of 2013.

In a year filled with major art fairs, high-profile installations, and even rogue residencies, a few truly exceptional pieces still managed to stand out. Whether they were popping up on your Instagram (everyday), or taking a permanent place on your RSS feed--these pieces were inescapable in 2013.

Below, in no particular order, we've compiled some of our favorite viral pieces: 

The Rain Room

The exhibit that launched a thousand selfies, rAndom International's Rain Room took MoMA and New York by storm--allowing visitors to walk through a torrential downpour without getting wet. The first outlet on the scene, check out our exclusive making-of above.

In Orbit by Tomas Saraceno

A walk through Saraceno’s exhibit at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Germany encouraged visitors to suspend belief (and themselves) as they floated above the gallery in these carefully placed nets.

MIT's Silk Pavilion  

Recruiting over 6,500 silkworms to produce this "living" sculpture (seen above), MIT's Mediated Matter Group created the Silk Pavilion as part of their ongoing research
with biologically influenced fabrication. "Inspired by the silkworm’s ability to generate a 3D cocoon out of a single multi-property silk thread (1km in length), the overall geometry of the pavilion was created using an algorithm that assigns a single continuous thread across patches providing various degrees of density," the group explained. 

You can also watch the full video if you're still curious:



Bruce Munro at Cheekwood Gardens
Lighting up the fields of Nashville, Tennessee's Cheekwood Gardens artist Bruce Munro's nature-inspired light installations literally illuminated the imagination. Check out our short doc above to experience all the glowing goodness.


Blue Moon

The 3D Printed Room

2013 was the year that Swiss architects Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger were able to print a 3D room in artificial sandstone. Reminding us somewhat of the caves homes of Petra, 64 (gigantic) sandstone parts were printed out using the mother of all 3D printers: resulting in a room made up of 260 million surfaces, all printed at a resolution of a tenth of a millimeter. Weighing 11-tons, the room took a month to print and a day to assemble, meaning this new technology is now easier to use than anything bought at Ikea. 

Dalston House

Called the only building where "every visitor becomes Spider-Man by The Guardian, Leandro Erlich's Dalston House was one of the most popular installations of the year. A temporary structure, Dalston House was comprised of a reconstructed house exterior, placed at the perfect 45-degree angle with mirrors to give the impression that visitors were dangling off the ledges. Good picture for your Facebook profile or THE BEST PICTURE? wondered UK residents.

Picture via Time Out London

3D UV Thread

via Fubiz

In Berlin, Korean artist Jeongmoon Choi created 3D UV Thread, producing tricked out standard rooms with colorful UV lamps. Giving off the appearance of a portal to a different dimension, this was definitely a void we wouldn't have minded entering.

JR in Times Square

via the Times Square Alliance
For his Inside Out New Your City project, French artist JR invited New Yorkers to contribute self-portraits (taken in a specially designed photo booth in Times Square) to create a massive backdrop of faces. The site of the world's first photo booth (created almost 100 years ago), no one could resist seeing their face on this massive installation.

Serpentine Pavilion 
Created for the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in the UK, design group United Visual Artists created an real life "electrical storm", able to be controlled by man. Masterminded by Sou Fujimoto, the giant, lattice structure was constructed from almost transparent 20mm steel poles, giving it a trippy, almost ethereal appearance. Watch our film above to see for yourself.

Yayoi Kusama at David Zwirner
The mother of all viral installations, Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Room (part of her I Who Have Arrived In Heaven exhibit at David Zwirner) was so popular it even caused Time Out NY to exclaim that the city had gone "nuts with selfies." Ethereal, trippy, and highly photogenic, if there was a prize for "art photo most seen on the internet this year", this picture would win the gold medal.

Everything James Turrell did
2013 was a good year for artist James Turrell, a pivotal member of the Southern California Light and Space movement of the 1960s and 70s. Between a retrospective at LACMA, an exhibit at the Guggenheim, and an installation in Houston, Turrell's glowing pieces seemed to literally take the nation by (neon) storm.

Did we miss your favorite installation of the year? Let us know in the comments below.

For more of our 2013 favorites, check out: