To set a Guinness World Record is no easy accomplishment—there are currently some 47,000 record titles, with more than 1,000 incoming applications to set new records each week. (Wait times can be up to four months.) Tucked inside these tomes are some extraordinary art superlatives, from the world’s most expensive painting at auction to the largest artwork ever painted… with coffee.
In honor of Guinness World Record Day on November 19, here are some of the most outrageous art records on the books.
Who: Expressions Stationery Shop Inc.
Where: Quezon City, Philippines
When: February 24, 2018
What: No fewer than 16,692 people, mostly students, took part in a 45-minute art lesson to learn how to draw one of the colorful masks that celebrate the MassKara Festival, which has been described as the Philippines’ answer to Brazil’s Carnival.
Who: Arbnora Fejza Idrizi
Where: Skenderaj, Kosovo
When: September 1, 2018
What: A 10-year veteran of making origami art, Arbnora Fejza Idrizi captured the record for the largest origami flower with this delicate 28-and-a-half-foot paper sculpture.
Who: Ram V. Sutar
Where: Kevadia colony, Gujarat, India
When: October 31, 2018
What: India built the world’s largest statue, topping out at 597 feet tall, as a monument to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who served as the nation’s first deputy prime minister. Building it took four years, cost 29.9 billion rupees ($430 million), and required 7,416,080 cubic feet of cement, 25,000 tons of steel, and 1,700 tons of bronze. (Despite rumors, the Indian government did not, in fact, put the artwork on the market in response to financial troubles earlier this year. But admittedly, the collector base for such a sculpture is quite narrow.)
Who: Cámara de Comercio, Servicios y Turismo de Guadalajara
Where: Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
When: August 20, 2018
What: Measuring 877 square feet, this massive bead mosaic took 780 hours to create, with 15 artists using a total of 66 pounds of glue and approaching 1,000 pounds of beads.
Who: Willard Wigan
Where: Warwick, UK
When: September 5, 2017
What: Master micro-sculptor Willard Wigan created a sculpture of an embryo measuring just 78 microns long and 53 microns tall, and placed it inside a hollowed-out strand of hair. He made the microscopic work from a carpet fiber.
Who: Mother India’s Crochet Queens
Where: Chennai, India
When: January 21, 2018
What: Subashri Natarajan spearheaded the collection of 58,917 crochet sculptures created by Indian people around the world in this record-breaking effort by Mother India’s Crochet Queens.
Who: Dale Chihuly
Where: Las Vegas
When: October 15, 1998
What: An eye-popping—and much-Instagrammed—sculpture of 2,000 glass flowers hangs overhead in the lobby of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, the work of master glass blower Dale Chihuly. The entire installation measures 29-and-a-half feet by 65-and-a-half feet.
Who: Leonardo da Vinci
Where: New York
When: November 15, 2017
What: Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvador Mundi took a winding road to the auction block, lost for decades, dismissed as a copy, and then rediscovered and heavily restored before selling for an astounding $450 million at Christie’s sale of postwar and contemporary art in November 2017. Controversy still surrounds the work, which hasn’t been seen since.
Who: Gurmej “Mr. Caution” Singh
Where: Grand Rapids, Michigan
When: September 14, 2013
What: For his 2013 entry to the art festival ArtPrize, Gurmej “Mr. Caution” Singh spent 38 days creating The Transcendental, a more than 11,300-foot-long painting. The only problem? He had been approved to create a 30-foot mural, not a three-mile display that blocked traffic and violated public safety. Not only did Singh not win any prizes for his efforts, he was given a lifetime ban from the contest. But hey, he did make it into the Guinness Book of World Records!
Who: The National Water Museum of China and Li Hangyu
Where: Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China
When: July 21, 2020
What: The National Water Museum of China commissioned Li Hangyu to paint this nearly 1,521-square-foot oil painting. It took five months to finish and features the Yellow River, the Yangtze River, Three Gorges Dam, and other waterways and large-scale water conservancy projects.
Who: Skulptura Projects GmbH
Where: Binz, Germany
When: June 5, 2019
What: It took two years, but the Sandskulpturen Festival finally broke the record for the world’s tallest sandcastle, enlisting a team of 12 sculptors and eight technicians from Russia, Poland, Hungary, Germany, Holland, and Latvia to build the nearly 58-foot-tall construction. Made of over 12,125 tons of sand, bound together only by water, the project, led by sculpting enthusiast Thomas van den Dungen, took three and a half weeks to complete.
Who: Hung Chi-Sung
Where: Hualien, Taiwan, China
When: June 21, 2019
What: Measuring 130,099 square feet, this massive painting of the Buddha is meant to symbolize peace and connection between human beings around the globe. Artist Hung Chi-Sung was inspired to create the larger than life religious painting by the Taliban’s destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in 2001.
Who: Pablo Picasso
What: A seemingly endless fount of creativity, Picasso earned his place in the record books with an estimated 13,500 paintings, 100,000 prints and engravings, 34,000 book illustrations, and 300 sculptures and ceramics. Good luck topping this one.
Who: Dubai Miracle Garden
Where: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
When: February 26, 2018
What: Move over Jeff Koons. Towering high above the artist’s famed Puppy, the terrier sculpture covered in flowering plants at the Guggenheim Bilbao, is this flowering Mickey Mouse figure at the Dubai Miracle Garden. Over 59 feet tall, the sculpture weighs close to 35 tons, outfitted with nearly 100,000 geraniums, marigolds, petunias, and other flowers.
Who: Harbin International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival
Where: Harbin, China
What: Topping out at 115 tall and 656 feet long, the world’s largest snow sculpture, titled Romantic Feelings, featured an Olympic-themed landscape complete with a French cathedral, a Russian church, Stonehenge, the Acropolis, and the head of a giant ice maiden, frosty hair rippling in the wintry breeze. The artists—600 sculptors from 40 different countries—used 120,000 cubic feet of compressed snow collected from the nearby Songhua River to create the frozen masterpiece.
Who: Woodstock Festival Poland
Where: Kostrzyn nad Odra, Poland
When: July 31, 2015
What: The Polish cell phone company Play sponsored this rainbow-hued effort from the Woodstock Festival Poland to body-paint 497 people in celebration of the event’s 21st anniversary.
Who: Ceoa Schools
Where: Madurai, India
When: January 28, 2020
What: To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Ceoa Schools gathered 6,210 students to color in a drawing of a tree at the same time.
Who: Eduardo Kobra
Where: Itapevi, São Paulo, Brazil
When: November 10, 2017
What: Eduardo Kobra, who previously created the record-setting mural Etnias along Olympic Boulevard for the 2016 Rio Olympics, led the team behind this 61,662-square-foot painting, more than double the size of their previous effort. The new artwork, for the headquarters of Brazilian chocolate company Cacau Show, took 700 hours and 2,000 cans of spray paint to complete.
Who: Moaffak Makhoul
Where: Al Mezzeh, Damascus, Syria
When: January 27, 2014
What: Measuring just under 7,750 square feet, this mural created by a seven-person team led by Syrian artist Moaffak Makhoul is made from broken car parts, discarded soda cans, shards of mirrors, and other materials that would have otherwise been thrown out.
Who: Jorge López de Guereñu
Where: Bilbao, Spain
When: October 17, 2008
What: Along the main road entering Bilbao, Jorge López de Guereñu used acrylic paint to create the 38,701-square-foot mural Miradas Sobre Bilbao.
Who: Johanna Basford
Where: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, UK
When: November 18, 2019
What: Johanna Basford, famous for pioneering the adult coloring-book trend with her bestselling 2013 book Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book, took just 12 hours to create a larger than life version of one of her floral designs to set the record for the largest drawing by an individual. Basford wrote on her website that she created the 5,395-square-foot work “to inspire people to put down their phones, pick up a pen or pencil, and DRAW!”
Who: Ohud Abdullah Almalki
Where: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
When: February 1, 2020
What: It took 45 days for Ohud Abdullah Almalki to create this 2,378-square-foot painting from nearly ten pounds of expired coffee granules. The artist is the first Saudi woman to hold an individual Guinness World Record.
Who: 15 artists commissioned by the Entidad Binacional Yacyreta and Unión Cultural del Libro
Where: Posadas, Misiones, Argentina
When: October 19, 2019
What: A controversial border wall between Posadas, Argentina and Encarnación, Paraguay became a record-setting work of art celebrating the historical ties between the two countries. Muralist Valeria Gariboti was the lead artist on the project, which measures over 1,610 square feet, was rendered all in black graphite, and took six days to complete.
Who: Emanuela Capizzi, Muna Jibril, and Federica Ceracchi
When: April 1, 2010
What: Tragically, there appears to be no photographic record of the time that body artists Emanuela Capizzi, of Italy, and Muna Jibril, of Jordan, applied 33,139 stones to Federica Ceracchi’s body during a taping of Italian TV series Lo Show dei Record. But they still secured the record.