The Most Instagrammed Art of 2016: Robots, Rainbows, and a Toilet Are All Up There

Maurizio Cattelan, Jordan Wolfson, Ugo Rondinone, and eight other artists who won the battle for your feed this year.

GIF by Alex Hodor-Lee

In an age where irreproducibility pretty much means invisibility, the one-upmanship between artists could perhaps now be more accurately characterized as a battle for your feed. Titans like Richard Serra and James Turrell were just some artists to face off this year, though their eye-catching works never exactly stood a chance against the irresistible French artist JR, whose populist, public works’ scale seem to only be matched by his ambition. Here, revisit Instagrammers’ favorite art this year.

JR at the Louvre Before attempting to steal the show from the Olympians in Rio, JR dared to perform a vanishing act on the world’s largest museum by covering I. M. Pei’s glass pyramid outside of the Louvre in a façade-printed wheat paste, nabbing even more likes for the most Instagrammed museum of 2016.

Christo at Lake Iseo It may have come to be 46 years after he intended, but “The Floating Piers,” Christo’s saffron-colored walkway stretching across Italy’s Lake Iseo, quickly attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors this summer, who walked on water to make the pilgrimage between the small islands of Monte Isola and San Paolo.

Alix Pearlstein at On Stellar Rays One of the Lower East Side’s teensy galleries found itself with a real influx of visitors this fall that came in two waves: dozens of fur-covered kitten sculptures, enlisted by the artist Alix Pearlstein, and the hordes of Instagrammers trailing in their wake.

Goshka Macuga at the Prada Foundation The Polish, London-based artist Goshka Macuga took a year and half to produce her show “To the Son of the Man Who Ate the Scroll” at the Prada Foundation, which included everything from 3,000-year-old Sumerian tablets to Egyptian sculptures borrowed from the Louvre. Most notably, though, she also enlisted the Japanese company A-Lab to create an eerily lifelike robot that could recite quotes from Frankenstein. It even blinked.

Maurizio Cattelan at the Guggenheim The suddenly aggressively unretired Maurizio Cattelan drove home his 2016 comeback by installing a solid gold toilet named “America” into the fourth-floor bathroom at the Guggenheim Museum, more than making up for the fact that the institution’s current exhibition of Agnes Martin is just as un-Instagrammable as it is sublime.

Pipilotti Rist at the New Museum The Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist caught on to this year’s most welcome trend by adding comfy seating to her show at the New Museum—a spread of cushions and king-sized beds perfect for pit stops not only to take in her videos, but to Instagram her spread of imaginative, illuminated works, like an LED forest and an underwear chandelier.

Jordan Wolfson at David Zwirner Gallery Tomato red hair, laser eyes, and facial recognition technology sophisticated enough to follow a visitor’s gaze were just some of the spooky features of the friend Jordan Wolfson brought to his second solo show at David Zwirner, complete with metal chains. It’s art that shows up later in your nightmares.

Yayoi Kusama at the Philip Johnson Glass House Even at 87 and working from the comfort of her home in Japan, Yayoi Kusama still managed to take over Philip Johnson’s Glass house in New Canaan, Connecticut—not just once, but twice, with a series of metallic orbs floating on the pond outside and an installation of polka dots that turned the house into nature’s own infinity room.

Ugo Rondinone, from Las Vegas to Art Basel Ugo Rondinone literally moved mountains when he transported his seven rainbow-colored limestone sculptures, which tower at 41 feet, from the Nevada desert to the Bass Museum of Art, just in time for Art Basel Miami Beach.

Katharina Grosse at Fort Tilden MoMA PS1’s Klaus Biesenbach has led more than a few art-world field trips to the Rockaways this summer—some even on a ferry called “American Princess”—thanks to an installation by the Berlin-based artist Katharina Grosse, who’s converted one of the former beach homes wrecked by Hurricane Sandy into a pink-and-white spray-painted confection.

Portia Munson at Frieze London Portia Munson has been collecting pink items since she was a child—a habit that served her well not only in a landmark feminist show at the New Museum in 1994, but this year in October, when she turned heads among the many booths at Frieze London by reassembling some 2,000 components of her stores of bubblegum kitsch.

The Museum of Ice Cream Though not technically a work of art, the madness and 70,000-person wait list surrounding the opening of the Museum of Ice Cream just across from another of this year’s most popular institutions, the Whitney, went a long way in proving museums’ continuing relevancy. It may have closed in September, but Instagrams of its sprinkle pool ensured it hasn’t melted away entirely.

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