Street artists like Banksy and Space Invader have been playing with city dwellers for years, placing their work strategically for maximum impact. In fact, artists around the globe are constantly integrating their artwork into the landscape in unexpected ways. Working in large and small scale, the techniques and scope of work differ, but one thing they all have in common is their clever use of space.
Out of all the different types of art forms we write about on a daily basis, there’s one that clearly stands apart from the rest – installation. According to Merriam-Webster, an installation is defined as “a work of art that usually consists of multiple components often in mixed media and that is exhibited in a usually large space in an arrangement specified by the artist.”
Why do we love installation art? For many reasons. First, it’s oftentimes immersive, providing visitors with a multi-sensory experience. Next, it’s site-specific, meaning that piece of art was built for that particular time and space. Finally, it’s highly imaginative in that it brings several different materials together to create something original and unexpected.
Today, we take a look at the most stunning installations that were shown around the world in 2013. If you were one of the lucky ones, you experienced one or a few of these artworks first-hand yourself.
In July, the city of Agueda, Portugal came alive as a colorful canopies of umbrellas hung over its streets. Photographer Patrcia Almeida took great shots of a similar installation last year, which went viral. This was part of an art festival called Agitagueda. Production company Sextafeira Produes had created the cheery installation to turn traditional shopping streets into an engaging visual experience. See more, here.
From the Knees of My Nose to the Belly of My Toes is a surreal display by British designer Alex Chinneck that makes it look like the brick facade is sliding right off the front of a building in Margate, England. The eye-catching installation, which took Chinneck approximately one year to bring to fruition, took a four-story residence that had been abandoned for eleven years and replaced the old frontage with a new one that slumped down and curved outward. See more, here.
British artists Andy Moss and Jamie Wardley, of Sand In Your Eye, produced this incredibly powerful visual display at the D-Day landing beach of Arromanche in France. The two developed this concept, entitled The Fallen, in honor of International Peace Day (September 21) and as a way to remember what happens in the absence of that peace. See more, here.
At the Rice University Art Gallery at Houston, Texas, visitors were immersed in a shimmering world of light, shadow and color. Called Unwoven Light, the hovering sculpture, by artist Soo Sunny Park, was made of chain link fencing and Plexiglas. Visitors were invited to enter the space to see how natural and artificial light change when viewed at a certain angle or at different times of the day. See more, here.
Leave it to Banksy to mix the cute and the cuddly with the totally disturbing. In the 11th work of his Better Out Than In exhibit that happened on the streets of New York, the British artist took over a delivery truck turning it into a slaughterhouse installation carrying 60 stuffed animals (or puppets) – cows, chickens, pigs, lambs – who were seen moving their heads through wooden slats. See more, here.
At the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) in Seoul, you could find Home Within Home Within Home Within Home Within Home, a 1:1 scale replica of two houses the artist had previously lived in, one inside the other. Created in purple fabric, his traditional Korean home, where he lived in when he was a child, was enveloped and suspended within a more modern building, his first apartment building when he came to the United States, located in Providence, Rhode Island. See more, here.
His largest and most ambitious work to date, In Orbit by Argentinian artist Tomas Saraceno was a huge mesh construction that suspended over 25 meters above the piazza of the K21 Standehaus museum in Dusseldorf, Germany. Visitors were able to climb on the gigantic steel wire construction that spanned three levels. The mesh net alone weighed three tons and there were a half a dozen “spheres” or inflated PVC balloons positioned within it. See more, here.
This year, Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei presented a new version of his incredible Forever Bicycles installation in Toronto. As the centerpiece of this year’s Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, the all-night contemporary art event that takes over city streets, 3,144 bicycles, the most Weiwei has used of this work to date, were stacked 100 feet in length and 30 feet in height and depth in Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square. See more, here.
Rain Room, by London and Berlin-based collective Random International, allowed you to experience the rain without getting wet! First shown at Barbican Centre from October 2012 to this March, it came to New York, housed in a temporary gallery next door to the MoMA museum. This was the monumental installation’s US debut. See more, here.
In Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, hundreds of multicolored LED lights, suspended at different heights and dangling from floor to ceiling, transformed a room into what feels like eternity. The cube-shaped, mirror-paneled room had a shallow reflecting pool as its floor and the lights flickered on and off in a strobe-like effect. Though similar to the ones Yayoi Kusama has shown previously – Infinity Mirror Room at the Tate Modern and Fireflies on the Water at the Whitney Museum of Art – this one was made especially for the exhibition at David Zwirner gallery and still promised the viewer a wonderfully surreal experience. See more, here.