The Best Art Projects in the History of Kickstarter


The largest funding platform for creative projects in the world, Kickstarter is the DIY artist’s dream-come-true. With a great idea, a fabulous video presentation, and some tempting swag, almost any project — regardless of how fanciful it may seem — can get off the ground. We dug deep into the site to pick the 10 best art projects, including some that are still open to contributions. From Spencer Tunick’s round up of nudes at the Dead Sea and Molly Crabapple’s five-day confinement making wall drawings to Swoon’s musical architecture in New Orleans and Eric Schwabel’s human light suit on the playa of Burning Man, Kickstarter helps make these imaginative projects a reality. Watch the highly entertaining video presentations that funded the projects and let us know if you’ve contributed to any Kickstarter dreams.

Spencer Tunick is known the world over for his group installations of nudes in public places. Ari Fruchter needed $60,000 to organize a Tunick installation involving thousands of participants at the Dead Sea in Israel. With 706 pledges − ranging from $5 for email updates on the project to $5,000 for a signed 30×37 inch limited edition print from the Israel installation, private party invitations, and credit as a sponsor on the installation website − the project has raised a whopping $116,270 and is now scheduled to take place on September 17, 2011.

Steve Lambert, who worked with the Yes Men and others to produce a fake copy of The New York Times, needs $9,500 to produce a sign on a traveling truck that asks people if capitalism works for them and publish a book about the project. He’s already surpassed his goal for the funds needed, but now has a new goal of trying to get as many people supporting the project as possible.

One of our favorite artists, Swoon, nearly doubled her goal of $12,000 to build an interactive musical house in New Orleans and have local and national musicians create sounds for it. Best known for her street art and ramshackle boats that travel down rivers, Swoon is building her first house out of wood salvaged from a home that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

The Woodshed Collective surpassed its goal of $10,000 to fund a performance of Roman Polanski’s film The Tenant in a 19th-century New York church and adjoining five-story parish house. The location will be converted into a 1970s-era Parisian apartment building for performances in multiple spaces this August and September.

Photographer Eric Schwabel is more than halfway toward his goal of $4,500 for funds needed to return to the Burning Man festival this year to photograph the colorful participants on the playa. Strapping a load of lighting gear to his body, Schwabel is able to take striking digital pictures, which he later sends to his subjects. His video compilation of his snapshots from the 2010 festival is a delight to watch.

Art Fag City’s Paddy Johnson topped her goal of $10,000 last October to produce a limited edition vinyl LP of the sound of art culled from videos, performances, and kinetic sculptures. Side A offers the sounds of artworks exhibited in Manhattan, while Side B gives a shout out to Brooklyn.

Molly Crabapple, the founder of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, went more than five times over her goal of $4,500 to fund her “Week in Hell” project. Raising $25,805 meant Ms. Crabapple was not only able to spend five days locked in a hotel room drawing on paper covering the walls, she was also able to fund a short film about the project.

Concrete = Canvas founder, Callie Humphrey, raised $3,470 to fund a street art project on the walls of an abandoned factory in Buenos Aires to create public murals by local artists while musician kept everyone entertained. Concrete = Canvas plans to continue the project in São Paulo, Curitiba, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Triple Canopy, Light Industry, and The Public School nearly doubled their goal of $20,000 for a new arts-and-culture center at 155 Freeman Street, in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn. Through the sale of a limited-time digital-download web project by Cory Arcangel and limited editions by R.H. Quaytman and Paul Chan, the group has also been able to fund the first year of programming.

Nora Ligorno and Marshall Reese raised $7,095 to make their Fiber Optic Tapestry, a canvas of light, which was woven from fiber optic thread that responds to information on the Internet. The dynamic piece was exhibited at the International TECHstyle Art Biennial (ITAB) at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles in 2010.