TOP 10 art exhibitions of 2017

TOP 10 art exhibitions of 2017

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monumental in scale, discipline, material and theme, some of the most renowned, international creatives displayed their new and most famous works around the globe this year. the exhibitions have immersed audiences in an impactful and significant experiential context — from damien hirst’s mysterious treasures of venice to yayoi kusama’s takeover of david zwirner gallery in new york.


as we move into december, we continue our annual TOP 10 round up of the year’s most talked about projects with a look at ten art exhibitions featured on designboom over the past 12 months.



1 – damien hirst’s underwater fantasy exhibition in venice

TOP 10 art exhibitions
image © damien hirst and science ltd. all rights reserved, DACS/SIAE 2017



in may, damien hirst’s ‘treasures from the wreck of the unbelievable’, opened within the vast space of the palazzo grassi and punta della dogana. the two venetian venues of the pinault collection were both dedicated to hirst’s large-scale project. the ambitious and complex series tells the story of the ancient wreck of a vast ship, ‘the unbelievable’, and presents what was discovered of its precious cargo. the project was developed over 10 years ago, when the large scale sculptures were first placed deep underwater where they weathered the deep waters of the ocean.

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2 –  yayoi kusama’s festival of life at david zwirner gallery

TOP 10 art exhibitions
image © designboom



in november, david zwirner gallery presented ‘festival of life’, a multi-sensory exhibit of recent work by celebrated japanese artist yayoi kusama in new york city. the exhibition featured sixty-six paintings from kusama’s iconic ‘my eternal soul’ series, new large-scale flower sculptures, a polka-dotted environment, and two ‘infinity mirror rooms’. the exhibition debuted two of yayoi kusama’s ‘infinity mirror rooms’, one which invited viewers to look inside through peepholes, and another which could be experienced from within. for the immersive infinity room, stainless steel balls create a sense of infinity through the play of reflections between the circular shapes and the surrounding mirrors.

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3 – studio gang sculpts ‘hive’ from 2,700 wound paper tubes

TOP 10 art exhibitions
image by tim schenck, courtesy of the national building museum



this summer, studio gang’s inhabitable ‘hive’ opened within the great hall of washington DC’s national building museum. the interactive installation comprised three interconnected, domed chambers. the structure was constructed from more than 2,700 wound paper tubes — making it a recyclable, lightweight, and renewable construction. the tallest 60-foot-tall dome features a 10 foot diameter oculus, inside which visitors can explore how material can modify and reflect sound, light, and scale.

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4 – herzog & de meuron and ai weiwei ‘surveil’ exhibition visitors

TOP 10 art exhibitions
image © james ewing



over the summer, architects jacques herzog and pierre de meuron joined forces with artist ai weiwei to design a site-specific installation inside new york’s park avenue armory. titled ‘hansel & gretel’, the immersive and interactive work examined the changing nature of public space in the era of mass surveillance. the installation is divided into two parts where the visitor is both the observed and the observer, with every movement tracked and monitored. as part of the eerie and disorienting landscape, each movement is recorded by infrared cameras. the footage is simultaneously broadcast to a global online audience and fed back into the installation.

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5 – daniel buren transforms bortolami’s tribeca gallery

TOP 10 art exhibitions
courtesy of the artist and bortolami, new york



in june, daniel buren transformed bortolami’s tribeca gallery with playful trademark stripes intended to highlight the architectural features of the gallery. by modifying the navigation of space, enhancing lighting, obstructing viewpoints, the playful stripes encourage visitors to experience the gallery in a new way.

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6 – pipilotti rist’s ‘pixel forest’ projects psychedelic dreamscapes

TOP 10 art exhibitions
photo by maris hutchinson



in january, swiss artist pipilotti rist brought her immersive, psychedelic dreamscapes and prismatic projections to the new museum in new york city. the works surround viewers in sensual landscapes that blend the natural and technological worlds. hosted across the three main floors of the SANAA-designed institution, ‘pixel forest’ forms a comprehensive presentation of the artist’s work to date, featuring pieces that span her entire career.

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7 – daniel arsham’s ‘hourglass’ exhibit immerses visitors

TOP 10 art exhibitions
image courtesy of the artist and galerie perrotin / photo by guillaume ziccarelli



in march, daniel arsham conceived three installations at the high museum of art in atlanta. the installations blend audio, architecture, sculpture, and performance — as well as some of his very first works realized in color. the three installations include: a series of cast objects housed in large hourglasses, a monochromatic blue zen garden and japanese tea house, and a cavernous installation made from amethyst-cast sports equipment (previously displayed at new york’s galerie perrotin).

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8 – do ho suh’s immersive fabric passages cross cultural boundaries

TOP 10 art exhibitions
image by thierry bal © do ho suh



in february, do ho suh created a walk-through configuration of semi-transparent structures to occupy the 25 meter-long gallery space at victoria miro. using fabric, suh replicates the architecture of places in which he lived, and his recent move to london provides an overarching theme for his exhibit. the colorful corridor-like spaces were accompanied by large-scale drawings. sewn in the same way as suh’s ‘hubs’, these pieces are immersed in water, during which a gelatin tissue canvas leaves an impression of fabric threads that appear as a skeletal framework against the colored form of an object.

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9 – peter zumthor puts his most-appreciated art on show

TOP 10 art exhibitions
image by markus tretter / courtesy of atelier peter zumthor & partner © peter zumthor, kunsthaus bregenz



in september, peter zumthor transformed the kunsthaus bregenz museum into an exhibition titled ‘dear to me’. distinct space of artistic reflection have been created throughout the architect’s building, each centering around the cultural themes zumthor cherishes. the austrian museum is turned into a place of architectural discussion and educational discourse, with works by some of his most-appreciated artists, including hélène binet, gerda steiner and jörg lenzlinger.

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10 – cai guo-qiang’s ‘spirit of painting’ in madrid, spain

TOP 10 art exhibitions
image © museo nacional del prado



at the museo del prado in spain, cai guo-qiang created large-scale paintings on site using gunpowder, serving as the highlight of the show focusing solely on his painted works. the exhibition draws from qiang’s ongoing interest in spanish renaissance painter, sculptor and architect el greco, and sees the acclaimed artist establish a relationship with the great masters represented in the prado museum.

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