What a year! Is it just me or has there been an art story around every corner you turned?

While we at Hyperallergic pride ourselves for our quality and engaging posts, we are also always amused to find out what becomes popular online and brings us oodles of eyeballs. People often ask me “what makes a popular story” and while some things are predictable (SHOCK! CONTROVERSY! O MY!) others are not.

This year, our best yet, was full of wacky, enlightening, and sometimes depressing stories that reeled in the readers while probing art in every which way.

#1 “Man Finds His Doppelganger at Philadelphia Museum of Art”


The tale of this one New Jersey man and an anonymous Italian painting is sweet, if strange, and it reinforces the theory that when people look at art they are really just looking for themselves. I guess that happens … sometimes.

This post was easily our most popular post of the year. Go figure.

#2 Rothko Defaced at Tate Modern

This story was one of the most dramatic we’ve ever covered on Hyperallergic. Using social media and some reliable sources, we were able to piece together the story of an awful incident of vandalism at the Tate Modern before any mainstream media source published anything other than a brief report that it actually happened.

People wanted to know what was going on and we did our part to keep people informed.

#3 Mitt Romney Says He’ll Cut Arts Funding

It was pretty incredible how often arts funding came up during the 2012 US election, particularly since one of the major Presidential candidates wanted to ax it as part of his nebulous “cuts” that he never quite specified beyond PBS and few other small things. Republican candidate Mitt Romney was no friend of arts funding and he made that known many many times. We’re glad we were able to broadcast his views to the world.

Btw, we’re also glad he lost.

#4 Nora Herting’s JC Penny Photo Studio Project

People were really fascinated by Herting’s infiltration of a JC Penny photo studio and the moral dilemma of using everyday people for your undercover art project.

Yet, as the author of the post Sara Walko explained, “The ubiquitous photos generated from portrait studios reveal a great deal about how we choose to portray our relationships and ourselves.”

#5 Beast Jesus

You’re probably surprised Cecila Jimenez and Beast Jesus are clocking in at number 5 and not higher up on this list, but like everyone else we hit Beast Jesus fatigue a while ago, so we moved it down a few spots.

If there was a story that had a life of its own, it was this. Honestly, there is nothing else to say.

Here are all our posts (with the runaway success highlighted):

#6 The Chuck Close Filter

Artist Scott Blake’s art project may have received a nasty ALL CAPS email from the renowned portrait painter Chuck Close but after his post on Hyperallergic was published in early July it seemed to gain a life of its own and it ricocheted from Salon to Wired to TechDirt and a lot of other places.

Close responded via another news source, but all in all the story demonstrated how the art world is made up of many factions and they don’t all agree on how to deal with the future of art making.

#7 Gallery Girls: Cutting Throats, Getting Paid

Ryan Wong’s take down of the Gallery Girls reality TV show based on its trailer was so spot on that after the whole program aired there was nothing that proved inaccurate in his assessment.

Shallow? Check. Back-stabbing? Check. Horrible female stereotypes? Check. Anything for money? Check. Not really about art? Check.

#8 Why I Deleted My Facebook Account

Artist Man Bartlett’s post on his motivations for deleting his Facebook account seemed to hit a nerve. He explained that “to me these issues are more about control than privacy.”

At the end of the day, many people just don’t seem to trust Facebook and aren’t sure what to do about it. Many people probably read Bartlett’s post knowing that their lives are so embedded into services like Facebook that it is almost impossible to imagine yourself free of them.

#9 The Powerless 20

A perennial favorite of Hyperallergic readers, this year’s Powerless 20 list included curators, Thomas Kinkade, Occupy Wall Street, Christo, and other art world “losers” in the power hierarchy.

As The Editors explained, “The art world can suck, but for these people it sucks just a little bit more.”

Here’s to hoping you’re not in the 2013 edition!

#10 Breaking: Getting Drunk and Losing Sleep are Good for Creativity

In retrospect we are not surprised this post did as well as it did. In fact, we’re a little shocked it didn’t do better!

It’s like the fantasy of every college student come true … drinking and sleeplessness are a good thing!?!? Pinch me I’m dreaming.

Now if science could prove that worrying, apathy, and laziness are productive. Then again, who cares.

Honorable Mention: Our Hurricane Sandy Coverage

As the first art publication to probe the on the ground realities of Hurricane Sandy, we were proud to be able to bring people up to the moment news via tweet and blog post about the impact the storm and flooding had in Chelsea, Greenpoint, the Rockaways, and elsewhere. It was a natural disaster we’re not soon to forget.

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

2 replies on “The Most Popular Hyperallergic Posts of 2012”

  1. Do you think the art and the art world are better now than they were in the seventies? Do an article about that.

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