CULTURE & ARTS
12/03/2013 09:13 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

10 Viral Art Moments The Internet Will Never Forget

As this glorious year draws to a close, we'd like to take a minute to remember all the little viral moments along the way. Whether they made you LOL, "like," or grow very agitated very fast, these memes and popular stories helped make 2013 the strange, beastly beauty that it was. From a vagina stadium to a giant rubber duck, here are our favorite viral memories of 2013.

1. Giant Rubber Ducky

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We're not sure if Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman predicted that his giant, inflatable rubber ducky would start a world-wide frenzy, but regardless, his supersized waterbird has captured the hearts and hashtags of many around the world. Sure, there were some near death experiences, but all in all, traveling from Beijing to Pittsburgh and beyond, this mighty duck had quite the year.

2. Great Art In Ugly Rooms

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What if Richard Serra's towering sculptures were used as decor in a cheesy cocktail reception in a hotel conference lounge? These are the looming questions broached my the inspiring Tumblr "Great Art In Ugly Rooms," which -- shocker -- pairs a great work of art with an equally repulsive setting. Think a Lichtenstein in a funeral home, a Calder in a strip club, a Lewitt in a recreational center, etc. Great art has never looked so tasteless.

3. The Rain Room

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Cronuts aside, no New York happening was discussed to such a nauseating degree as the Rain Room. MoMA's blockbuster smash installation used 3D tracking cameras to recreate all the sensory magic of a rainy day without any of the actual wetness, making viewers feel like Moses parting the red sea. That's when things got dark. Lines stretched down the block, with waits averaging eight hours. Kids cried. Selfies were taken. The Rain Room conquered everything on and off the internet.

4. Marina Abramovic's Kickstarter

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Only a woman who could induce tears by the mere act of gazing at you could surpass a $600,000 Kickstarter goal for a performance art institute. The internet watched in awe as the number of backers grew and grew, as Abramovic unfurled bizarre fundraising techniques like posting a video of naked Lady Gaga cuddling with crystals. Whatever works. Eventually the Marina Abramovic institute raised $661,452.

5. Unlocking The Truth

Nothing captures the heart of the internet like a kid playing music. However, when those kids are eleven-year-olds shredding metal, like, really hard, the internet just explodes. Meet Unlocking The Truth, the inspirational young metal-heads who hail from Brooklyn, wear nail polish, and don't stress the haters. After a video of the youths playing in Times Square went viral, people took notice, leading to a mini-documentary, hoards of fans, and a gig playing the half-time show of a Nets game.

6. Beyonce Art History

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If one woman could carry the entire cannon of art history on her back, it could only be Queen B. The brainchild of Complex Art's Editorial Assistant (and former HuffPost Arts intern!) Leigh Silver, Beyonce Art History is Tumblr gold. Basically, it pairs a snippet of Bey's lyrics with a corresponding artistic masterpiece and the result is pure magic. Who run the world?

7. Banksy, Banksy, Banksy

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Every day in the month of October, Banksy added to his open-air exhibition "Better Out Than In," surprising the web with a new artwork located somewhere in New York City. He quickly gained a devoted obsessed following, on Instagram and IRL. And then, all hell broke loose. Well, not really, but works were vandalized, stolen, faked, sold while appearing fake, etc. You can read all about the mayhem here.

8. Qatar's Vagina Monster Stadium

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The art world collectively failed to get its mind out the gutter upon seeing Zaha Hadid's monster stadium and having the strange feeling they'd seen it somewhere before. Yes, the massive arena does resemble a giant vagina, and, not so surprisingly, the internet noticed. Hadid called the parallel "ridiculous," but, we're sorry to say, the internet has spoken.

9. #EmojiArtHistory

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It started with a Twitter meme and ended up as so much more. Emoji Art History is basically a virtual SparkNotes for your favorite artworks, using emojis! Soon all of Twitter became involved -- or at least the art nerd contingent -- uploading moving masterpieces translated into a melange of smiley faces. You'd be shocked at how talented people are at this, seriously.

10. Picasso Baby

One fateful day in Manhattan, the rapper and mogul known as Jay Z gathered every big name in the art world he could find, luring them to Pace Gallery with his fame, fortune and allegedly irresistible smile. He then proceeded to rap at them for six hours, after which the art world was forever changed. During the making of his weirdly long music video performance piece, Jay appeared to merge souls with Marina Abramovic in an intense dance-off, although evidence of such soul-merging was never corroborated.

BONUS: Benjameme

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Brooklyn-based artist Lauren Kaelin transforms viral trends into painterly works of art. Grumpy Cat, the Prancercise lady, Texts from Hillary... you name it, Kaelin paints it, reproducing low-brow fodder as high (or at least higher)-brow visual feasts. Essentially, we love her.

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