Best of 2016: Our Top 5 Public Art Installations

We saw so much great art during 2016 that we created two separate lists this year; Top Public Art Installations and a Top Art Exhibitions list.  It’s not the ‘be all and end all of lists’, just a grouping of exhibits and installs that lingered on for us well into the end of the year.  I wish we had the time to list all the installs that made us happy his year, but we didn’t.  Let’s face it, not everything makes the same impact on a person.  I’m sure there are plenty of other lists with great picks, that’s what makes end of the year lists so much fun – everyone’s got a different opinion of what constitutes ‘best of the rest’.

These are ours…

 

Honorable Mention

Yayoi Kusama Dots at Philip Johnson’s Glass House

Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama has dominated the dot world since the 1950’s. She continued her Infinity Room series during a residency at the iconic Glass House in Connecticut by sticking red polka dots all over its transparent walls. We couldn’t make it to the Glass House, but we sated ourselves by visiting her permanent ‘Infinity Dot Mirrored Room’ at the Mattress Factory.

Next up…

Feb.23.2017-May.14.2017
YAYOI KUSAMA: INFINITY MIRRORS
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.

5. The Guardians

Vladimir Antaki’s award-winning photo series ‘The Guardians’ is sourced from his travels. Antaki photographs devoted shop keepers inside their mecca’s as a way to document and pay tribute to the guardians of urban temples we encounter on a daily basis without really noticing. His portraits capture a moment that encapsulates their dedication. This year, two cities paid tribute to his Guardians – his work was installed on the streets of Philadelphia and during the Nuit Blanche Arts Festival in Toronto.

 

 

4. That Time JR Made the Pyramid at the Louvre Disappear

French street artist, JR, was invited by the Louvre museum to wrap their world-famous glass pyramid with one of his monumental anamorphic images. The project steamrolled that old commentary of fear that Pei’s design would somehow violate the museum’s historical integrity.

more on the story here.

 

3. Waterfall by Olafur Eliasson

Artist/Designer Eliasson is known for his large-scale installations that explore perception and environmental issues. Reminiscent of the 2008 waterfalls that appeared underneath major bridges in New York City, Eliasson amazed the crowds again as a towering waterfall appeared to fall from midair into the Grand Canal at the Palace of Versailles. It cascaded from high above the surface appearing as a torrent of water of with no discernible source when viewed from the front steps of the palace. The gushing water concealed a latticed tower helping pump water through a system of pipes, which become apparent to audiences as they viewed the installation from its sides.

 

2. Biancoshock Hides Miniature Underground Rooms Inside Manholes in Milan

His 2016 art installation “Borderlife” was his call to a bigger awareness. He transformed 3 vacant subterranean maintenance vaults into miniature underground rooms in the Lodi district of Milan. It points a finger toward a hidden reality that most remain unaware of; the living conditions of those forced to occupy confined spaces – with a focus on those who live underground, behind manholes.

more on the story here.

 

1. Creative Time Presents Duke Riley’s “Fly By Night”

The summer nights were enhanced with Creative Times‘ present, Duke Riley’s ‘Fly By Night’.  The performance sent 2,000 trained pigeons swirling into the air over the east river to music, illuminating the Brooklyn skyline with thousands of LED lights.  New York Times called the performances, “Mr. Riley’s valentine to the city, its historic shoreline, its oft-maligned spirit animal and the vanishing world of rooftop pigeon fanciers.”

That Time JR Made the Pyramid at the Louvre Disappear

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©JR-ART.NET paysage.jpg

 

French street artist, JR, was invited by the Louvre museum to wrap their world-famous glass pyramid with one of his monumental anamorphic images.

The Louvre has an amazing history —  originally built as a fortress in 1190, it was reconstructed in the 16th century to serve as a royal palace; in 1793, Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette moved out and relocated their entire royal court to Versailles. And now, the Louvre is an art museum, exhibiting the royal collection and artifacts.

It’s equally famous pyramid was designed in 1985 by American architect, I.M.Pei.  The pyramid is a subterranean entrance into the Louvre, restructuring the old design, merging all of the museum’s wings with a common access point.  There’s nothing quite like witnessing the contrast of this contemporary wonder against the museum’s  baroque stateliness as you descend into what will seem like a endless abyss of art (it covers a whopping 652,300 square feet).

There’s was backlash against it’s construction, as art lovers around the world fought against what they were sure would destroy the very heart of Paris. Now this otherworldly 71-foot-high structure of glass and metal sitting in front of the main entrance is one of the most photographed landmarks in Paris.  Recent studies show that the Louvre draws nearly twice the number of visitors than it did before the Pyramid’s installation. That steamrolling commentary of fear that Pei’s design would violate the museum’s historical integrity found new air as the conversation retained relevancy with the course of JR’s Louvre project.

JR talked about the ongoing feud between traditional and modern tastes in art in an interview with curator and journalist, Hugo Vitrani.
“Making the Pyramid disappear is a way for me to distance myself from my subject…My work is about transmitting history to better understand the present, and find echoes with our own times. What happened in the past is part of a broader context that can still have relevance for today. By erasing the Louvre Pyramid, I am highlighting the way Pei made the Louvre relevant for his time, while bringing the Louvre back to its original state. The Pyramid is one of the most photographed French monuments. I am re-directing its energy, because people are going to have to move around it. They are going to look for the best angle to get the full impact of the anamorphic image, and really make the Pyramid disappear.”
It’s been more than 25 years since the pyramid was introduced to the world.  Some say, Pei achieved a kind of architectural sleight-of-hand with so much more there than meets the eye.  I’d say JR has joined those ranks.
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Photo credit: legeekcestchic.eu

JR joins the New York City Ballet Art Series

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The New York City Ballet is really upping the ante with their Art Series. Last year they collaborated with the NYC based Duo, FAILE – tickets for those performances sold out within days.

This year shouldn’t be any different now that they’ve released word of their partnership with the French Artist, JR. The sheer power of JR’s popularity and his broad influence on his social media following should make this project an instant hit.

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JR ARTSERIES NYC BALLET 2

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The special installation for the art series will be seen during the ballet performances on January 23rd, and February 7th & 13th. The advance tickets are gone, but keep checking the NYC Ballet website for updates. Don’t forget to link up with JR’s Instagram to see photos from the project as they’re released.

*photos via JR’s Instagram

JR Pays Tribute to the Civil Rights Movement

JR Pays Tribute to the Civil Rights Movement with a Mural

Street artist, JR – known for his trademark B&W portraits that flank inner city communities – marked the 50th Anniversary of Civil Rights Activist, Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech by using real archived photographs from the Civil Rights Movement to create giant murals in the Sweet Auburn district of Atlanta, Georgia where King grew up.

King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech was delivered on August 28th, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. to over 250,000 civil rights supporters.

JR Pays Tribute to the Civil Rights Movement

JR Pays Tribute to the Civil Rights Movement

JR Pays Tribute to the Civil Rights Movement

JR Pays Tribute to the Civil Rights Movement

JR Pays Tribute to the Civil Rights Movement

*Steven Blum’s photograph from the Poor People’s Campaign of 1968,courtesy Emory University’s SCLC collection, was turned into a 30-foot-by-40-foot mural at Auburn Avenue and Hilliard Street. Flip Schulke’s photograph from the 1963 March on Washington was turned into an 18-foot-by-35-foot mural at the corner of Edgewood Avenue and Hilliard Street. Elaine Tomlin’s photograph from the 1995 Million Man March, courtesy Emory University’s SCLC collection, is now a mural at Edgewood Avenue and Jessie Hill Drive.

via Creative Loafing where you can read Debbie Michaud’s Q&A with JR.

*Image credit: Dustin Chambers

5 Street Art Instagrammers You Should Follow

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  • Martha Cooper / Handle: Marthacoopergram – Legendary Graffiti Photographer, Martha Cooper is basically ‘have lens will travel’. Most recently she was in Puerto Rico capturing street artists: Vhils, Luis Perez, Monica Parada, NEPO, and Colectivo Fibra in action. You wanna stay in the know – follow Martha – her pictures come from the core of the inner circle. I mean, you did see the surprise mural put up for this graffiti darlings birthday at the Wall (Houston & Bowery) didn’t you?

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  • JR / Handle: JR – No one bounces around the globe quite like JR & his crew. This TED Talks street artist brings the faces of urban communities into the forefront with his large scale wheatpastes. It’s all so job fantasy camp, whether you’re viewing pics of their global meet-ups (parties) or looking at a aerial view of his work lacing the favelas of Brazil. Not to miss: snapshots of prideful smiles when JR revisits his muses.

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  • Os Gemeos / Handle: osgemeos – The Brazilian twins document their process extensively on their account. You’ll get to drop in on their murals in progress, see their sketches forming…though my favorite moments come when other street artists drop by their gallery shows to wish them luck and then show up in their feed.

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  • Jonathan LeVine Gallery / Handle: JonathanLevineGallery – The Gallery’s Instagram puts you in the thick of their shows: you can catch the artist preparing the gallery, see the install, pieces from the show, and drool over the after-party. The account should come with a tagline “We’ll make you wish you were here.”

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  • Seth GlobePainter / Handle: seth_globepainter – French Street Artist, Seth Globepainter is everywhere. You’ll globe trot with him via the colorful large scale murals he leaves behind. His Modus Operandi is achieving a culture vibe by taking a photo of a local in front of the mural once it’s completed. Gotta admit, It’s a pretty significant way to humanize a projects.