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The year 1997 in art involves various significant events.
- January 27 – It is revealed that French museums have nearly 2,000 pieces of art that had been stolen by Nazis.
- March 6 – Pablo Picasso's Tête de Femme is stolen from a London gallery. It is recovered a week later.
- April 27 – Andrew Cunanan murders Jeffrey Trail, beginning a murder spree that will last until July and end with the murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace.
- September 8 - Marcus Harvey's controversial painting of Myra Hindley goes on display at the Royal Academy of Art in London and is vandalised twice, by two different artists, on the opening day.
- October 18 – Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, designed by Frank Gehry, is opened.
Full date unknown
- Puppy by Jeff Koons is moved from Sydney Harbour to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
- Robert Colescott becomes the first African-American to represent the United States in a solo exhibition at the Venice Biennial.
- Patricia Martín conceives La Colección Jumex in Mexico City.
- Sensation opens at the Royal Academy of Art in London.
- Kate and Helen Storey's Primitive Streak opens at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London.
- Documenta X opens in Kassel.
- Archibald Prize – Nigel Thomson, Barbara Blackman
- John Moores Painting Prize - Dan Hays for "Harmony in Green"
-The Venice Biennial-
- The Lion d'or (Golden Lion) for Lifetime Achievement: Emilio Vedova (Italy), Agnes Martin (USA)
- The Lion d'or for Best Pavilion: France exhibiting the work of Fabrice Hyber
- Louise Bourgeois – Eye Benches I, II and III (Seattle)
- Maurizio Cattelan – Turisti (installation, first version)
- Lucian Freud – Eight Months Gone
- Antony Gormley – Another Place (sculpture)
- Philip Jackson – Gurkha Memorial, London
- Larry Kirkland – Garden Wreath (installation, Portland, Oregon)
- Sarah Lucas – Bunny Gets Snookered (installation, including Pauline Bunny)
- Ron Mueck – Dead Dad, Angel, Big Baby II and III, Man in a Sheet and Mask (Self Portrait) (sculptures)
- Odd Nerdrum
- The Savior of Painting
- Self-Portrait in Golden Cape
- Cornelia Parker
- Mass (Colder Darker Matter) (installation)
- The Negative of Whispers (sculpture of found material)
- Pornographic Drawings
- Martin Puryear – Bearing Witness (sculpture, Washington, D.C.)
- Gillian Wearing – 10–16 (video)
January to June
- January 23 – Jeremy Maas, English art dealer and historian of Victorian painting (b. 1928).
- January 25 – Dan Barry, American cartoonist (b. 1923)
- February 2 – Theodoros Stamos, Greek American abstract expressionist painter (b.1922).
- March 7 – Martin Kippenberger, German artist (b.1953).
- March 11 – Sam Golden, paint maker (b.1915).
- March 15 – Victor Vasarely, Hungarian-French artist (b.1906).
- March 19 – Willem de Kooning, Dutch born American abstract expressionist painter (b.1904).
- April 16 – Roland Topor, French illustrator, painter, writer and filmmaker (b.1938).
- April 20 – Jean Louis, French costume designer (b.1907).
- April 22 – Reg Gammon, English painter and illustrator (b.1894)
- May 23 – James Lee Byars, American artist (b.1932).
July to December
- July 15 – Gianni Versace, Italian fashion designer, murdered (b.1946).
- July 16 – Dora Maar, French photographer, poet and painter, lover of Pablo Picasso (b.1907).
- August 4 – Tom Eckersley, English poster artist (b.1914)
- September 6 – Jean-Pierre Sudre, French photographer (b.1921)
- September 29 – Roy Lichtenstein, American pop artist (b.1923).
- October 22 – Leonid Amalrik, Russian animator and animation director (b.1905).
- October 23 – Claire Falkenstein, American sculptor and painter (b.1908).
- December 16 – Lillian Disney, American artist and wife of Walt Disney (b.1899).
Full date unknown
- "Art crimes: Myra". Archived from the original on 2015-03-02. Retrieved 2015-03-13.
- "The art of science". Times Higher Education. London. 1997-10-10. Retrieved 2012-07-25.
- "Find Your Primitive Streak". Evening Times. Glasgow. 2003-08-07. Retrieved 2012-07-25.
- Kohn, Marek (2011). Helen and Kate Storey: science and art engaging the public. London: Wellcome Trust.
- "Harmony in Green by Dan Hays (born 1966) - Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool museums". Liverpoolmuseums.org.uk. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
- Hurlston, David; et al. (2010). Ron Mueck (Exhibition Catalog). Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria.