In a year that opened with a gold cube landing in Central Park and closed with AI rising to test the limits of artist copyright, the internet has had a lot to chew on when it comes to the art world 2022 has come. And more often than not, the cyber mob has chosen to do so via the medium of the meme — that instantly recognizable, sometimes humorous piece of content that has come to infect most online conversations.
As a shared language, memes have not only documented some of the year’s art-related moments, but illuminated entire situations with side-eyed sadness and madness. Below, we’ve selected some of the best memes that captured 2022 in digital shorthand.
‘I will avenge you mr van gogh’
In one of Just Stop Oil’s most sensational protests, the climate activists threw an entire can of tomato soup at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in London’s National Gallery in October. The painting was protected by a glass screen, but rapper Lil Nas X thought a comeback was in order nonetheless, offering a photoshop job of him squirming. Sunflowers at Andy Warhol’s soup cans. “I will avenge you, Mr. Van Gogh,” he wrote.
FIAC vs Paris Art Basel
In January, Art Basel announced the launch of Parys+, its new fair to take place in the Grand Palais in October – effectively occupying the place and time slot long reserved for FIAC. When Paris’ flagship show took this knock on its reputation, the memes wrote themselves.
For a few years now, internet memes have abounded about the British Museum’s historical penchant for taking other people’s things, an observation that is not entirely unfounded. But it’s the “Nobody:” meme that has has captured the museum’s acquisition policy in ways that are both brutal and on point, again and again and again.
Kevin the Pixelmon
In February, the Pixelmon NFT project rode the twin tides of hype and anticipation to bring in $70 million in coin. But the big art revelation, with low-res graphics and misshapen characters, immediately deflated all speculator buzz. The only one who survived the entire disaster was Kevin, the Pixelmon creature and “ugly zombie squirtle,” which survived, thanks to its extreme meme ability. And he remains a sign of hubris in the age of crypto.
Because stock Halloween costumes no longer satiate postmodern appetite, the Ghost Halloween meme arrived on the world stage with photoshopped, fake ensembles that ranged the cripple on the rude on the quite funny. The one below, courtesy of the ever-reliable @jerrygogosian, also happens to be totally recognizable to art insiders.
Heidi Klum as a worm
Model Heidi Klum, whose raison d’être these days looks like it’s “winning Halloween,” dressed as a worm for the holiday this year. The now infamous costume was the product of her latest and ongoing collaboration with Mike Marino of Prosthetic Renaissance, and required months of planning. And all for what? Amazing memes.
Elon Musk’s Thirst Trap
In late October, Elon Musk, the world’s one-time richest man, finalized his purchase of Twitter, and couldn’t hold back on the memes. Yes, the image of his sad “bedside table” she had viral momentbut it was his type in the long run Milo Manara meme to thirst Donald Trump, which sums up the unfunny desperation of Musk’s latest effort. By the way, the Italian master of erotic art presented himself his own statement.
Okay, I like it, Picasso
When TikTok creator @itsreefa came across an “art project” in nature – involving an individual in an elaborate costume and a giant orange wig, and a car covered in tin foil, he expressed high praise: “Okay, I like it, Picasso.” It’s a line that’s been around ever since the social media sphere twice over, handily applied to this, that, and any art project, whether by Picasso or not. (The artists featured in the original TikTok, by the way, are part of Array Studios.)
@itsreefa Welcome to Coventry 🤩 #fyp #foryou ♬ What is it I like it Picasso Yes datway – ReefaTV
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