TOP 10 art installations of 2021

TOP 10 art installations of 2021

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as we say goodbye to 2021, we take a look at some of the most exciting art installations presented this year. despite the difficulties posed by COVID-19, this year came with plenty of exciting artwork unveilings, ranging from christo’s ephemeral art installation in paris, which saw the arc de triomphe wrapped in a silvery blue fabric, to olafur eliasson’s green water installation at fondation beyeler.
discover the TOP 10 art installations featured on designboom over the past 12 months below, and explore more of our TOP 10 round ups of the year’s most talked about projects here.
TOP 10 art installations of 2021image by wolfgang volz © 2021 christo and jeanne-claude foundation (also header image)
christo’s dream of wrapping the arc de triomphe became a reality in 2021. from september 18 until october 3, paris saw the french monument draped in 25,000 square meters of recyclable polypropylene fabric. ‘l’arc de triomphe, wrapped’ is said to be the greatest work of public art worldwide in 2021, and was funded entirely by the artist’s foundation through the sale of his preparatory studies, drawings and collages of the project as well as scale models, works from the 1950s and 1960s and original lithographs on other subjects. 



v image by sunhi mang © VG bild-kunst, bonn, 2021 and the artist
‘I hope…’ by chiharu shiota is an immersive thread installation currently on display in the nave of st. agnes – a monumental former church that now serves as könig galerie’s exhibition space in berlin. the large-scale piece gathers 10.000 letters sent to the artist from across the globe, which came in response to her invitation to people to write down their hopes. printed on red paper, the letters are attached to millions of lines of red thread that interconnect them, while metal boat frames are suspended in between. ‘I hope…’ links back to shiota’s ‘the key in hand’ installation, an immersive labyrinth of keys and yarn set inside the japan pavilion during the 56th venice biennale (previous coverage here).



TOP 10 art installations of 2021
image via JR
in another parisian installation, JR splits the earth beneath the eiffel tower in two to reveal a cavernous subterranean city below. the french artist has devised the installation to perfectly align with the architecture of the eiffel tower when viewed from a specific vantage point. from here, the tower’s legs appear to transform into a natural rock formation, from which emerges an enormous, cavernous void. 





TOP 10 art installations of 2021

image by mark niedermann


basel’s fondation beyeler hosted the first site-specific installation in switzerland by world-renowned artist olafur eliasson. titled ‘life’, the show intertwines the museum, its surrounding park, the urban landscape and nature in such way that it presents itself as a piece that constantly evolves to generate a dialogue between these coexisting spheres while rejecting the separation between culture and nature.





plastique fantastique’s ‘#stayout’ is a performative art installation in berlin that mirrors and questions our habits as individuals in public. the art performance took place from august 6-8 in front of the haus der statistik in berlin, featuring seven pneumatic structures inhabited by seven performers. inside the bubbles, the performers’ behavior swings between the repetition of their obsessions and the desire to break the rhythm of routine.




american artist janet echelman’s ethereal, large-scale installation is dubbed ‘earthtime 1.26 munich.’ the artist worked with mercedes benz as part of the 2021 international motor show (IAA mobility 2021) to transform munich’s odeonsplatz into a living art venue. the floating sculpture is created entirely from recyclable fibers and measures 79 by 69 feet (24 by 21 meters). a symbol of the dynamic nature of ourecosystem, the work is constantly changing due to natural forces. 


read more here

GRAY gallery revealed ‘water’s soul,’ 2020, a new site-specific installation by internationally renowned artist jaume plensa. the white resin head rises 80 feet (24 meters) above newport pier park, across from downtown manhattan and marks the artist’s tallest public sculpture to-date (as a comparison, the statue of liberty is 150 feet/ 46 meters tall from the top of the base to her torch).

TOP 10 art installations of 2021image courtesy of florentijn hofman


artist florentijn hofman’s colossal, vibrant, and inflatable ‘city cocoon’ is sited among the gothic architecture of schiedam, the netherlands. officially dubbed by its translation ‘stadscocon,’ the occupiable installation completely transforms the lofty space with its skeletal, stone columns — the strange and striking green form fits snugly into the nave of the huge church. expressive of the artist’s signature sense of scale, the cocoon introduces to the viewer a new perspective of the familiar space, where the interior is perceived with fresh eyes — all while maintaining a playful and engaging sense of fun. 





yuri suzuki has designed a community-focused, multi-sensory and interactive public installation for london called ‘sonic bloom’. located in the heart of mayfair, the installation is composed of colorful horn-shaped elements that together create a magical, interactive flower. the sculpture amplifies the sounds absorbed from the surroundings and transports voice recordings from people at street level through its stems.


read more here



TOP 10 art installations of 2021image © roberto conte
in continuation of his architecturally-focused, ethereal sculpturesedoardo tresoldi took to ravenna in the presentation of ‘sacral.’ the public work was unveiled on the occasion of ‘a POP saga,’ the third exhibition in the ‘dante. the eyes and the mind’ series at the art museum of the city of ravenna (MAR). the installation reimagines familiar elements of classical architecture in a way that is ghostly and ephemeral, referencing the ‘noble castles’ illustrated by dante in his inferno. 





see designboom’s TOP 10 stories archive:


20202019 — 2018 — 2017 — 2016 — 2015 — 2014 — 2013

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