[Best of 2014] The Year in Viral Art

This is the art that was all-but-inescapable in 2014.

Art Basel Miami offered $3 billion worth of work, Peter Lik sold the most expensive photograph ever ($6.5 million), and a second Mona Lisa was discovered, making 2014 a monumental year for art. Whether it was Kara Walker's sugar sculptureMiley Cyrus' solo show, or even Shia LaBeouf's #IAMSORRY performance, this year was filled with works we couldn't stop seeing, sharing, or talking about.

This is the Year in Viral Art:

+ We Instagrammed Kara Walker’s 75-foot-long sugar sculpture at the Domino Sugar Factory and she caught us taking #artselfies.

+ Takeshi Murata created an alienesque sphere that could melt into itself.

Takeshi Murata's Melter 3-D produces the illusion of motion by spinning. GIF by Beckett Mufson via

+ In February, a random painter picked up one of Ai Weiwei's colored vases, and smashed it into pieces at the Perez Art Museum in Miami.

+ UK nanotech company Surrey Nanosystems created vantablack, the darkest material in the world. Master sculptor Anish Kapoor announced he'd soon be creating something with it.

A sample of Vantablack, the darkest color in the world. via

+ Jeff Koons showed off what looked like a big pile of Play-Doh and an inflatable Hulk at the Whitney Museum as part of his first New York retrospective, and later sold other peoples handbags as readymades.

Jeff Koons, Play-Doh, 1994–2014. Polychromed aluminum; 120 × 108 × 108 in. (304.8 × 274.3 × 274.3 cm). Bill Bell Collection. © Jeff Koons

+ Shia LaBeouf sat in a room with a paper bag over his head in the name of performance art for his #IAMSORRY exhibition in Los Angeles.

+ Artist Vik Muniz and artist/researcher Marcelo Coelho etched intricate castles onto grains of sand. Also in 2014, Muniz, alongside MIT postdoctoral fellow, Tal Danino, biogenerated artworks using cancer cells, cheek cells, and bacteria

+ Shaquille O’Neil curated his own portrait exhibition. Enough said.

+ Back in February, Beijing-based sculptor Li Hongbo crafted paper sculptures that stretched like slinkys.

+ Over the summer, Japanese artist Azuma Makota sent flower art traveling 90,000 feet into our stratosphere. Then, in November, Makota released a documentary about it. 

+ Studio Roosegaarde's glowing bike path inspired by Van Gogh’s Starry Night lit up the Dutch province where the artist was born.

+ The floors of the Sacré Coeur and the Castel Del Monte were coated with a morphing virtual carpet, courtesy of digital artist Miguel Chevalier.

Miguel Chevalier, Magic Carpets 2014, Castel Del Monte, Italy

+ We watched a model’s face transform with projection-mapped makeup.

+ Disney heroines got a rude awakening in the real world.

8,000 balloons recreated the Berlin Wall for its 25th Anniversary, and we took a peek behind-the-scenes.

Lichtgrenze, 2014

+ We questioned, along with the rest of the world, who owned the monkey selfie.

+ The most expensive photo in the world sold for $6.5 million. The next day, another artist joked that he'd actually sold a photograph for $6.5 million and ten cents that same week. 

"Phantom" by Peter Lik is the most expensive photograph ever sold. via

+ And last but definitely not least, Turner Prize-winning artist Douglas Gordon filled the Park Avenue Armory with pools of water for ten nights of performances by renowned pianist Hélène Grimaud. 

Douglas Gordon's tears become... streams become... at the Park Avenue Armory. Photo by James Ewing, via

This is part eight of our end-of-the-year series. Be sure to check out the year in brainssound, and sculpture. Stay tuned as we continue to look back on 2014 and collect all of our favorite examples of modern creativity, fantastic innovations, and important trends.


[Best of 2014] The Year in Fashion and Tech

[Best of 2014] The Year in Animation

[Best of 2014] The Year in Art Discoveries

[Best of 2014] The Year in Sound

[Best of 2014] The Year in Brains

[Best of 2014] The Year in Sculpture

[Best of 2014] The Year in Robots