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The Biggest Art Flops Of The Previous Decade

The decade of 2010-2019 saw many great things for the art world, but it also had its fair share of debacles. Let’s take a look back at some of the biggest ‘oops’ moments of the decade:

VIP Art Fair

The decade began with something that was considered the next-step for art in a digital age. VIP Art Fair was supposed to be an art fair held completely online, allowing viewers to explore and shop from their beds. It opened in January 2011 to much pomp and show. However, within a few hours, the website servers were unable to handle the traffic of viewers. In the end, the show had to cancel. The organizers dared to make another edition the next year, which failed too. Lesson learned: art exploration is online shopping.


The previous decade saw a new kind of abstract painting made by young artists. These works actually borrowed heavily from previous masterpieces, thus leading to the name ‘crapstraction’ (another term was ‘zombie formalism’, for bringing discarded works back to life). For a few years, these abstract works were all the rage and its creators even managed to touch million-dollar marks in the sale. However, the craze subsided so rapidly that within a few short weeks, these bestsellers had no market left.

Art Critics and their victims

Sometimes the failure of an art exhibition is not so apparent to its viewers – which is why art critics exist. Roberta Smith was perhaps the most prominent voice of criticism in the past decade, as she took down multiple high-profile exhibitions. These included actor James Franco in his first art outing (2014), Adel Addessmend’s solo stint at David Zwirner (2012), and Dan Colen’s first solo show (2011). Other critics like Jerry Saltz and Peter Schjeldahl were not far behind either.

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Buyers finding shade during Frieze 2018 Fair

The ‘hot’ exhibition at Frieze

Sometimes, things go bad because such was fate. May 2018 was one of the hottest months New York saw in the decade and Frieze was conducting its high-profile art fair during that time. Then, to everybody’s surprise, the air conditioning malfunctioned. The most anticipated buyers were left sweating in the scorching heat. In the end, Frieze had to refund many artists and even face legal action.