If there is an art world superstar of 2023, it’s Refik Anadol. The Turkish-American digital artist gives Ted Talks, has 770,000 Instagram followers, and stages public art spectacles that draw massive crowds.
On May 5, for the second year running, Anadol packed the streets surrounding Antoni Gaudí’s Casa Batlló in Barcelona as his mesmeric projections lit up the building’s façade. The show, “Living Architecture”, which launched the city’s “Digital Impact” exhibition featuring the work of 16 leading contemporary artists, attracted an estimated 65,000 spectators across five evening showings.
Anadol’s artistic method is to use large datasets as a palette with which he “paints” moving digital sculptures. In the Casa Batlló project, Anadol used a dataset of around a billion images including Gaudí’s sketches, archival records, publicly available images of the building, and social media photos. This data was then fed into customized algorithms that incorporate Barcelona’s climate data to produce images that are projected onto the building.
An NFT of “Living Architecture” 2022 piece sold at Christie’s New York last year for $1.38 million
Thank you for sharing with us another historic night❤️. @refikanadol pic.twitter.com/y3siZ48lF6
— Casa Batlló | Gaudí Barcelona (@CasaBatlloGaudi) May 6, 2023
“We felt the true love and power of public art,” Anadol wrote on Instagram, “[We] honored the genius of Gaudí by using his incredible facade of Casa Batlló as a canvas, his entire life’s dataset as a light pigment.”
Last year’s spectacle followed on from Anadol’s stint in 2021 as artist in residence at Casa Batlló. During his residency, Anadol created a series of immersive rooms inside the UNESCO World Heritage building, including his Gaudí Cube that professed to take visitors inside the mind of the city’s most celebrated architect.
In bringing together some of the buzziest terms from the contemporary art world—A.I., NFT, immersive experiences—Anadol’s aesthetically engaging and fun work has made him one of the most in-demand artists working today. Last year, he staged a major work at MoMA and was recently selected as one of the artists to launch Sotheby’s NFT secondary marketplace.