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A Look Back at the Best of Art in 2017

A Look Back at the Best of Art in 2017

Picture of Freire Barnes
Art & Design Editor
Updated: 22 December 2017

For more on the year’s cultural happenings, check out some more of our 2017 In Review round-ups.

With the opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi and a rare Leonardo da Vinci selling for an astronomical $450 million, 2017 has been another phenomenal year in the world of art. Here, we look back at some of the major happenings that included Swiss artist Giacometti being immortalised on screen by Geoffrey Rush and Olafur Eliasson telling us about the responsibility of an artist.

We all had to see David Hockney at Tate Britain

The show that everyone was at in 2017 was David Hockney, at Tate Britain. With over 4,000 daily visitors and midnight opening hours for the 16-week retrospective, the mega blockbuster was the Tate’s most popular show ever. And it’s no wonder, demand was high to see more than 120 works by the celebrated British artist who has swapped the Yorkshire Dales for sunnier California. Including the now iconic A Bigger Splash, intimate portraits of family and close friends, and large-scale vibrant landscapes, the exhibition took you on a roller-coaster ride of the artist’s prolific output from the rarely seen to the experimental.

David Hockney, 'Garden', 2015 | © David Hockney / Photo: Richard Schmidt

David Hockney, Garden, 2015 | © David Hockney / Photo: Richard Schmidt

Clean design, cleaner air, dirty jewellery

Rotterdam-based artist and designer Daan Roosegaarde spoke to us about his Smog Free Project and creating the world’s largest outdoor air purifier in Beijing.

Smog Free Tower in Rotterdam | Courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde

Smog Free Tower in Rotterdam | Courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde

For the 57th Venice Biennale, things get interactive

From Erwin Wurm’s One Minute Sculptures in the Austrian Pavilion that invites visitors to become part of the work, to feeling the power of crystals in Marina Abramović’s work for the stupendous Palazzo Fortuny exhibition, this year’s Venice Biennale was a brilliant cacophony of mesmerising, engaging, illuminating and wondrous art from around the world.

One of Erwin Wurm's Performative One Minute Sculptures | © Bildrecht, Vienna 2017/ Photo: Daniele Nalesso

One of Erwin Wurm’s Performative One Minute Sculptures | © Bildrecht, Vienna 2017/ Photo: Daniele Nalesso

A temple of banned books

Documenta, the major sculptural event that happens every five years in Kassel, Germany may have been marred by controversy over its financial state of affairs but it gave Marta Minujín a platform to recreate her monumental installation The Parthenon of Books. Initially made in Buenos Aires in 1983, the 74-year-old conceptual artist acquired thousands of banned books donated by the public to construct the work in Friedrichsplatz.

Martha Minujín, 'The Parthenon of Books', 2017 | Photo: Roman Maerz

Martha Minujín, The Parthenon of Books, 2017 | Photo: Roman Maerz

The mysterious 19th-century cult that worshipped art

The frequently overlooked Salon de la Rose + Croix was recreated and rediscovered at the Guggenheim, New York earlier this year. Established in 1892 by French author and critic, Joséphin Péladan, the intriguing short-lived annual exhibitions sought to encapsulate his eccentric Rosicrucian order through works from the Symbolism movement.

Installation view: Mystical Symbolism: The Salon de la Rose+Croix in Paris, 1892–1897 | © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 2017 / Photo: David Heald

Installation view – Mystical Symbolism: The Salon de la Rose+Croix in Paris, 1892–1897 | © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation / Photo: David Heald

The tumultuous life of the little-known ‘Austrian van Gogh’

He may not hold the same place in the art history books as Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele or Oskar Kokoschka, but this summer, Neue Galerie resurrected the work of painter Richard Gerstl, considered Austria’s first expressionist.

Richard Gerstl (1883-1908), 'Grinzing', spring 1906 | Private Collection / Courtesy Galerie St. Etienne, New York

Richard Gerstl, Grinzing, spring 1906 | Private Collection / Courtesy Galerie St. Etienne, New York

Final Portrait exposes the flawed genius of Alberto Giacometti

When American writer James Lord met Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti and embarked on sitting for a portrait, little would he have known that years later his experience would be immortalised in celluloid by actor and director, Stanley Tucci in Final Portrait.

'Final Portrait' | Courtesy Vertigo Films

Still from Final Portrait | Courtesy Vertigo Films

Meet Camille Walala, the artist putting fun back into London

We spoke to the vivacious Camille Walala in her East London studio about her brilliantly fun and immersive installation Villa Walala, which took over Broadgate for the annual London Design Festival.

Portrait of Camille Walala in her East London studio | © Culture Trip / Freire Barnes

Portrait of Camille Walala in her East London studio | © Freire Barnes

Award-winning artist Olafur Eliasson talks global goals

As the Global Goals World Cup took place in New York, we spoke to the Danish-Icelandic, Berlin-based artist Olafur Eliasson about the humanitarian causes that inspire his practice.

Olafur Eliasson at the Global Goals World Cup | © Culture Trip / Amanda Suarez

Olafur Eliasson at the Global Goals World Cup | © Culture Trip / Amanda Suarez

What not to miss at Frieze art fairs 2017

From the recreation of Sir Peter Blake’s studio at the Waddington Custot stand at Frieze Masters to the new Sex Work section at Frieze London, the first week of October that has become known as Frieze Week once again brought an eclectic mixture of art from every century and all continents to London’s Regent’s Park.

Courtesy of Frieze

Courtesy of Frieze | Courtesy of Frieze

With a turbulent mind, Vincent van Gogh painted an unsolved mystery

We looked into the spectacular coincidence of how the 20th-century masterpiece, The Starry Night, painted by a tormented Vincent van Gogh while in a French insane asylum is remarkably similar to the celestial star dust captured by the Hubble Space Telescope over 100 years later.

Vincent van Gogh's 1889 <em>The Starry Night</em> | Courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York / Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest

Vincent van Gogh’s 1889 The Starry Night | Courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Henry Moore’s ‘Old Flo’ gets a new East London home

British sculptor, Henry Moore sold Draped Seated Woman in 1962 to London County Council so it would enrich the lives of residents of the then newly built Stifford Estate in Stepney. Over the years, the fate of the bronze sculpture, which has become fondly known as ‘Old Flo’ has been uncertain, with fear of robbery or council mayors wanting to sell her. Luckily she’s now found a new and more permanent home in East London in Canary Wharf’s Cabot Square, so she can once again be enjoyed by the public.

Henry Moore’s 'Draped Seated Woman at Cabot Square', Canary Wharf | Photo: Lucy Young 2017

Henry Moore’s Draped Seated Woman at Cabot Square, Canary Wharf | Photo: Lucy Young 2017

Experience the Roman temple of Mithras at the London Mithraeum

During the Roman’s rule of London (Londinium), there was a cult that worshiped the god Mithras near the banks of the now-covered Walbrook River. Through an innovative and immersive display, this major Roman temple has been brought to life for the public to experience for free. First discovered in bomb rubble from World War II, the temple has been restored at its original street level location in Londinium, which happens to be seven metres below ground level in contemporary London, below the new Bloomberg’s new European headquarters.

London Mithraeum | Photo: James Newton

London Mithraeum | Photo: James Newton