Best of 2001 A Special Issue: Over the next twenty pages, ten Artforum contributors remember the high points of the past year.
1 Philip-Lorca diCorcia (Pace Wildenstein, New York) Because the subjects of diCorcia's larger-than-life head shots are unaware that their pictures are being taken, they exist in a weird state of grace. Hyperalert urban radar temporarily down, these pedestrians look touchingly vulnerable: alone and adrift. The photographer "cringes" at the idea that his work is humanistic and insists he's "not the slightest bit sympathetic" toward his subjects, yet he never thwarts our sympathy for them. DiCorcia's people are ordinary citizens of the twenty-first century, and that's exactly why they're so compelling right now. After September II, Manhattan was flooded with posters of the "missing," and diCorcia's anonymous New Yorkers suddenly had a host of companions whose ghostly presence grounded the show in grief and tenderness.
2 Andreas Gursky (Museum of Modern Art, New York) Even if you hate the all-but-irresistible temptation that Gursky's massive scale offers to other ambitious photographers, you've got to admire what he accomplishes with it. Like Warhol, he has a nearly unerring ability to turn the dumb document--a picture of a river, a racetrack, a dirt road, an industrial carpet--into something momentous, even marvelous. Forget digital erasure and computer enhancement: This is your life. Get used to it.
3 The New Photojournalism/ "Here Is New York" (116 Prince Street, New York) Admittedly, Gursky doesn't look quite so authoritative since the attack on the World Trade Center, when photographers like Gilles Peress, James Nachtwey, and Susan Meiselas brought the devastation home. These artists, and photographers like Jeff Mermeistein and Joel Meyerowitz who straddle the gap between reportage and art, made pictures of this blasted new world that were among the most indelible images of the year. They looked shockingly beautiful in magazines but even more powerful displayed anonymously alongside pictures by countless other professionals and amateurs at this show in an empty SoHo storefront--a model of immediacy and accessibility.
4 Street Market (Venice Biennale) Venice was short on excitement this year, but at the end of the Arsenale's mind-numbing video arcade, Barry McGee, Stephen Powers, and Todd James--whose East Coast--West Coast collaboration brings the postgraffiti aesthetic into sharper focus--threw a wild party they called Street Market. Their overturned trucks, grungy storefronts, and overlapping wall drawings made a big impression at Deitch Projects last fall, but in Venice this sprawling installation felt like the real American Pavilion: funky, witty, audacious, and a little dangerous.
5 "Zero to Infinity: Arte Povera 1962-1972" (Tate Modern, London) This elegantly installed, smartly timed show was the place to be for funk of a more refined sort: Call it dirty minimalism or conceptualism with a human face. Arte povera's back-to-basics use of raw materials-Alighiero Boetti's wooden sticks, Luciano Fabro's crumpled lead, Giuseppe Penone's paraffin, Jannis Kounellis's coal, wool, and rocks--was as playful as it was brainy, and the radical simplicity of many of the pieces seemed more avant-garde than ever. Against all odds, the work has retained its revolutionary zeal, its spirit of spontaneity, and its capacity to startle and delight. Bonus: one of the year's best-designed catalogues.
6 David Goldblatt (AXA Gallery, New York) Perhaps because so little of his work has been seen in America, this South African photographer's fifty-one-year retrospective had the power of revelation. At once evenhanded and complex, Goldblatt's pictures touch on every aspect of South African society with remarkable clarity and understanding. His style is wonderfully flexible--recalling Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Leon Levinstein--but always tough, alert, and emotionally engaged; though he exposes the mundane brutality of the apartheid system, Goldblatt allows its architects and its victims the same righteous dignity.
7 Dave Heath (Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York) Originally published in 1965, Heath's A Dialogue with Solitude was a counterculture Family of Man--a dark, despairing exploration of what the photographer couldn't help but call "the human condition." Although Heath's unabashed earnestness dates the work, his pictures combine genuine anguish with a fierce yearning for connection. Greenberg's show coincided with the book's reissue, signaling a tentative revival of sincerity that by year's end was more alarming than refreshing.
8 Irving Penn in Vogue In September, the eighty-four-year-old Penn put out a book of his still lifes, recapitulating sixty years of flawless disarray. But regular readers of Vogue didn't need to be reminded of the master's touch. In a year when fashion photography seemed to be at a virtual standstill, Penn's pictures of food, clothes, and beauty products were touchstones of inventiveness and verve. October's scattering of sweets, June's meatlike makeup mask, July's frighteningly bloodshot eye--when it comes to turning out a reliably brilliant magazine page, Penn has no competition.
9 "Dear Friends" (International Center of Photography, New York) David Deitcher found a context for primarily nineteenth-century formal portraits of men holding hands, linking legs, or otherwise affectionately intertwined that went beyond the rigors of queer theory to get at something more subtle and elusive. The sheer number of examples might persuade us that homosexuality was once openly celebrated in America, but even if these photos commemorated nothing more than sweet camaraderie, their rescue from obscurity--and their lovely installation at ICP--was welcome.
10 Hiroshi Sugimoto (Sonnabend, New York) Like Gursky, Sugimoto makes scale work for him, and his virtually life-size images of wax-museum statuary force us to confront the uncanny eye to eye. The Guggenheim SoHo's installation was deadening, but at Sonnabend the work came to life, its layers of illusion alternately seductive and repellent, ripe and rotten.
Vince Aletti, art editor and photography Critic of the village Voice, contributed fifty essays to The Book of 101 Books: Seminal Photographic Books of the Twentieth Century (Roth Horowitz/D.A.P., 2001).
1 Jeremy Deller, The Battle of Orgreave The award for Art Event of the Year must go to this epic re-creation. On June 18, 1984, at the height of Thatcherism, the quiet South Yorkshire village of Orgreave was the scene of a particularly violent confrontation in a long and painful miners' strike. This summer, Deller (and producer Artangel) assembled a group of amateur reenactors and restaged the pitched battle between police and picketers, complete with cavalry charges, flying missiles, howling ambulances, and bloodied faces. As political performance--cum--living history painting, Deller's Battle of Orgreave constituted a new kind of artistic hybrid. Watch for Mike Figgis's documentary of the project, which premiered at the London Film Festival last month.
2 Nicolas Roeg, Don't Look Now Essential preparatory viewing for any trip to the great necropolis that is Venice. A new print of Roeg's 1973 masterpiece was released in March, in plenty of time for the biannual art pilgrimage (and, as it turned out, infinitely more satisfying). The film has it all: most beautiful heroine, most vertically challenged villain, sexiest sex scene, and the most horrible ending in the history of cinema. A couple trying to come to terms with the drowning of their young daughter visits a bleak, wintry Venice where he (Donald Sutherland) is overseeing both the restoration of a crumbling church and the psychological disintegration of his wife (Julie Christie). It's a ghost story of sorts, but mostly a meditation on death and renewal, which, set in the city of mirrors and masks, trembles with symbolic possibility.
3 Thomas Hirschhorn It's not easy to make art about injustice, but Hirschhorn does it with increasing conviction. The Swiss artist was awarded the Prix Marcel Duchamp for Pole-Self at the Pompidou this year; a smaller project, Laundrette, at Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, affirmed his place as contemporary art's most passionate provocateur. He transplanted a scuzzy laundromat--perfectly observed, with a nasty plastic floor, lurid lighting, chained furniture, and abandoned reading matter--to a storefront in London's salubrious WI district. Inside the washing machines revolved footage of stomachchurning atrocities taken from war zones around the world. There was nothing subtle about Laundrette's correlation of public hygiene and ethnic cleansing. But Hirschhorn's distinctive nonaesthetic--based on rickety form, cheap materials, and a blizzard of images and words--is powered by a sense of urgency and incomprehension in the face of catastrophe that leaves us, under his unforgiving neon, nowhere to hide.
4 "Behind Closed Doors: The Art of Hans Bellmer" (International Center of Photography, New York) In this assiduously researched exhibition, Therese Lichtenstein presented the case that mannequin-meister Bellmer was neither a deviant pedophile nor an unlikely protofeminist but a gender revolutionary out to undermine the sociosexual regime of the Third Reich. The only thing missing from this fine show was an account of the mysterious artist Unica Zurn, Bellmer's companion and muse, who, trussed up like a parcel, was the subject of his darkest pornography.
5 Juan Munoz, Double Bind I've never been much taken with Munoz's whimsical figures, which seem overly nostalgic for an earlier age of Spanish art, but this magisterial installation at Tate Modern confirmed how his convoluted imagination could command the most daunting architectural space. Looked up at and down at, but never simply across at, Double Bind wore its trompe l'oeil tricks lightly and pirouetted so gracefully on a lateral sculptural axis that you forgot just how big it was. Munoz created a hovering purgatory inhabited by colorless men, a world suspended in midair, perfectly still save for two empty elevators trundling up and down for eternity. The artist's untimely death in August only heightened the pathos, and the eschatology, of this final work.
6 Karlheinz Weinberger: Photos 1954-1995 (Andreas Zust Verlag, 2000) A hugely enjoyable book released at the end of last year by the octogenarian Swiss photographer, who started out in the late '50s documenting a coterie of Zurich teen rebels known as Die Verlausten (the Lice-Infested Ones) and stayed with them as they graduated from mopeds and Elvis to motorbikes and a peculiarly Alpine version of the Hell's Angels. What with their teasy-weasy hair, horned helmets, furry accessories, and jeans strained shut with extravagant ironmongery, this could be the '60s BC rather than AD. A Teutonic tribe worthy of Tacitus's Germania: Think James Dean meets Tom of Finland meets Attila the Hun, and then say Switzerland is boring.
7 Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood and Sputnik Sweetheart (Harvill Press, 2000; Knopf, 2001) No one writes like Haruki Murakami. His style is as lean and fresh as sushi. Often baffling, always moving, the novels wash over you slowly and then send you swirling for days in their subterranean currents. It's the juxtaposition of the mundane and the insane that makes Murakami inimitable. Like all his novels, Norwegian Wood and Sputnik Sweetheart are narrated by very ordinary men who meet strange girls with even stranger problems; they're metaphysical love stories, full of suppressed desire and injured but hopeful characters who struggle to make connections with one another.
8 & 9 Sislej Xhafa and Anri Sala Out of the Balkan diaspora came two young Albanians who brought intense artistry to bear on contemporary Europe's most vital problems: the traumatizing effects of war and the forced migration of peoples. Anri Sala's poetic docudramas and Sislej Xhafa's trenchant public interventions gave compelling artistic shape to the experiences of a dislocated continent.
10 Pierre Huyghe, Venice Biennale In the face-off between German expressionism and French classicism in the Giardini, my vote went to Pierre Huyghe's elegant fusion of architecture, design, animation, and electronic media in the French Pavilion. The ensemble of discreetly synchronized works was as light or as heavy, as conceptual or as spectacular as you wanted to make it--a Gesamtkunstwerk for the twenty-first century.
Kate Bush, a London-based art Critic, is senior programmer at the Photographers' Gallery.
1 New York Times Photo Editing Beginning with local shots on September 12 and moving on to Afghanistan, with a steady succession of scenes involving soldiers of the Northern Alliance, refugees at the Pakistani border, and children in harsh surroundings, dire circumstances, and brilliant clothes, the New York Times's images have been packing the dramatic and chromatic punch of paintings by Delacroix. Needless to say, many photojournalists deserve individual praise, but my year-end kudos goes to the paper's photo editors and printers, whose decisions concerning scale, tone, and placement have served photographers and readers, as well as the ideals of empathy and reason, with fidelity and an eye.
2 Luc Tuymans (Belgian Pavilion, Venice Biennale) With a group of paintings addressing his government's legacy in the Congo--the most purely craven colonial enterprise in modern European history--Tuymans transcended his 1997 beau moment at MOMA. Whistlerian in their finesse and faintness, focused on both the ceremonial and the quotidian--a royal leopard skin and a red fez, a man peering out the window of a Third World International Style facade--these works support a lot of queasy cargo. They are based on journalistic images from the '50s and '60s, when Belgium was setting about its business of undermining Congolese independence by engineering (and covering up) the assassination of Patrice Lumumba. An epilogue, pained and luminous, to Conrad's Heart of Darkness.
3 Shirin Neshat (Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York) Neshat's films, in all their rhythmic urgency, live smack in the eye of the global storm. It has become impossible to rid one's mind of them. There have been signs of impending Koyaanisqatsi-ness: Her recent collaboration with Philip Glass seems to morph into a fifteen-year-old British Airways commercial every now and again. Still, she's a maestro of mood and imagery and a talented director of actors. Shohreh Aghdashloo, as the crazed woman in Possessed, is an Anna Magnani for this epoch.
4 Judith Linhares (Edward Thorp Gallery, New York) At last! A satisfying show of recent paintings by this fantastic artist. The flowers in some of those small, intense and awkward, almost animistic still lifes seemed to be sucking the water up from their vases before one's eyes.
5 A Warholian Trifecta We seem to be living in, among other things, Andy's afterlife. Three Warholian enterprises last year (well, four, if you include the brouhaha surrounding the Fred Hughes memorial and estate sale) have variously reframed the work he made, the life he led, and the one he's left us with: (a) Deborah Kass (Blaffer Gallery, Houston, TX). Kass is a vigorous, unsubtle artist who over the years has occasionally switched her brand of artillery, but has always stuck to her guns. For the better part of the last decade, she's been appropriating AW's image gestalt, minus the off-register printing effects, in the spirit of both homage and polyvalent polemical correction--thus Barbra Streisand as "The Jewish Jackie," Cindy Sherman in the manner of a Liza portrait; Gertrude Stein as a "Mao," and the artist herself as you-know-who in his Marilyn/Candy-wig demidrag. (b) Pie in the Sky: The Brigid Berlin Story. It's safe to suggest that Vincent Fremont and Shelly Dunn Fremont exercised considerable patien ce in portraying their intelligent, obsessive-compulsive, pug-loving, but otherwise often rather hateful subject. Now in her sixties, the Factory's former Big Girl is thin, more or less, in a flinty, the-hell-with-it way, and rarely ventures from the Upper East Side. The emotional climax of the film takes place outside the Chelsea Hotel, where she is overcome by anxiety and refuses to enter. (c) Andy Warhol. Wayne Koestenbaum, as usual, is inspired--especially on the subject of AW's films, which he rightly exalts to the upper reaches of the canon. He's exhausting, too, with his dazzling but relentless, psychosemantical associations. Still, how not to love someone who, in discussing the master's dead cat, Hester, writes: "Pussy Heaven--an insensitive, jocular phrase--sounds like misogynist slang for a brothel or harem, where homo Andy would hardly have felt at ease. Thus when he says 'pussy heaven'--with a mocking, faux-naive pretense that the word 'pussy' refers only to cats and not to vaginas or effeminate m en--he projects an afterlife in which Julia Warhola and their beloved kitties survive, a locale of keen emotion, where there is no need for Pop, the anesthetic for death-by-spaying."
6 "Alfred Hitchcock et l'art: coincidences fatales" (Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris) A foyer full of the famous fetishes (the binoculars from Rear Window, etc.) encased and lit as jewels led to a show involving all mediums and just about every conceivable aspect of its prismatic theme--even religion (Hitchcock and Rouault!). Particularly good on The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1926) and related, little-known artworks from the 1920s, this was a sprawling, hugely entertaining exhibition, curated by Dominique Paini and the ever-canny and resourceful Guy Cogeval.
7 "Italie 1880-1910" (Musee d'Orsay, Paris) An eye-popping array of wonderful, esoteric, and regional stuff. Highlights included a trove of small sculptures by the underestimated Paolo Troubetzkoy, a very large, multifaceted head by the totally weird protofascist Adolfo Wildt, and an enormous painted scene of a peasant rebellion, by Pellizza da Volpedo, which Bertolucci lifted for the closing shot of 1900.
8 Rachel Whiteread (Trafalgar Square and the Serpentine Gallery, London) Elegant, elegiac, weather-sensitive in their translucence--hers are the best grand-manner public sculptures around. Indoors, those old mattresses, cast in wax, looked surprisingly fresh.
9 Tim Gardner (303 Gallery, New York) A beautiful show of small, expertly rendered watercolors on a hip and gently twisted branch of the Winslow Homeric tradition, of (mostly) guys fishing, camping, or hanging out.
10 Lucinda Devlin ("Plateau of Humankind," Venice Biennale) Exquisitely banal death chambers: a photographic indictment.
Paris-based writer Lisa Liebmann has contributed to Artforum since the early 1980s.
1 Dominque Gonzalez-Foerster New pieces this year by the French artist underline her unique sense of atmospheric space--whether urban, cinematic, or architectonic. She moves deftly between genres, always conveying an unmistakable mix of ambience and light melancholy. Taking leave of the world of galleries and museums to put in an appearance at the Cannes film festival, she showed two new works. This year she also debuted her movie Plages, shot in Rio de Janeiro, which documents an enormous public artwork, the several-miles-long "drawing" by Roberto Burle-Marx on the sidewalk along the Copacabana. The strange imagery--partying throngs on the beach, fireworks, and heavy rain--reminds me first of Andreas Gursky, then Turner. Gonzalez-Foerster completed her first major public work in September at the Bonne-Nouvelle Metro station in Paris. With subtle materials (various forms of theatrical lighting, a monitor here and there) she transformed a subterranean piece of architecture into a giant cinematic fantasy. The p latforms, with rows of lurid spherical lamps, are pure joy. It's like a small-town amusement park. Who cares if the train is a few hours late?
2 Frankfurt and Beans After a year in the city on the Main and several heaping helpings of artist Thomas Bayrle's risotto, I now know Frankfurt's true contribution to contemporary art: food. Austrian artist Peter Kubelka's two-course meal of film and experimental cooking established a Frankfurt Stadelschule food-as-art (or art-as-food?) tradition, which lives on not only in the school's regular seminar-cum-cookoff but in the wider art community as well. This year's Cook's tour: Sebastian Stohrer's Cockery Workshop on the fine art of producing Swabian noodles, at the Kokerei Zollverein in the city of Essen; and Hocine Bouhlou's daily sensations at the Stadel cafeteria, like the astonishing wildschwein I am digesting as I put pen to paper.
3 Olafur Eliasson, "Surroundings Surrounded" (Zentrums fur Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe, Germany) The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I knew many of the works, but the overall effect of these meditations on perception, science, and nature somehow amplifies the significance of the artist's individual interventions, which, as we know, sometimes verge on the invisible.
4 Luc Tuymans (Venice Biennale) What makes Tuymans's rather modest form of image-making so forceful and effective, I honestly can't say. What I can say is that the Belgian painter's fuzzy canvases have a severe impact. In Tuymans's hands, the simplest of means--oil on canvas--becomes a weapon. Lumumba, his portrait of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's first prime minister--assassinated in 1961, a year after the former Belgian colony's independence--forms the center of this ruthless one-man interrogation. A welcome contribution to the anachronistically nationalist art event.
5 Carsten Holler, Light Corner (Schipper & Krome, Berlin) The Germany-based artist's aggressive and hallucinatory wall of blinking light bulbs not only produced a shock of luminosity so forceful that viewers had to shield their eyes; it also radiated incredible waves of heat. The force of the pulse itself produced perceptual effects I still can't explain. That some of the lamps nearby were rigged to mysteriously blink on and off seems clear, but how come streetlights miles away suddenly seemed to flicker? Maybe my brain has been permanently altered.
6 Yayoi Kusama The simple mirror ball, adequately displayed, opens unknown universes of distorted perspective. Installed in my tiny apartment, the artist's recent edition makes everything look not only larger but also baffling. Thanks to Kusama I now live in a state of anamorphosis. And all for a mere twenty bucks.
7 Maurizio Cattelan Normally one can't miss a work by the Italian artist--the pope flattened by a meteorite, a little version of Adolf Hitler praying in an otherwise empty kunsthalle. But the piece he realized for the Yokohama Triennale was hidden next to a bank of elevators that visitors had no reason to use. A lilliputian replica of the real thing, complete with automatic doors, sound system, and so on, it was the most playful thing around. Pushing the tiny button over and over again, I couldn't help hoping for a Mini-Me Maurizio to appear next time the doors opened.
8 Jonas Dahlberg In the artist's smart video installations and architectural models, elevators travel upward without reaching the top and hotel corridors extend infinitely. Some of Dahlberg's works give a twist to that staple of the new century: surveillance footage and real-time imagery. Big Brother is surely watching--not you and me but his own miniature fantasy worlds. Recent shows in Stockholm, London, and Karlsruhe make me curious. More, please.
9 Tacita Dean (Museu d'Art Contemporani Barcelona) The survey of Dean's recent works made it clear to me that this artist, known for her 16 mm projections, is just as much a sound artist as a filmmaker. Her acoustic spaces are seemingly unbounded: dreams of the sea, of distant harbors, long-dead sailors, and the crash of storms.
10 Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba, Memorial Project Nha Trang, Vietnam--Towards the Complex--For the Courageous, the Curious, and the Cowards (Yokohama Triennale) In saluting a generally awful year, I thought to reduce the list to nine, but I could not forgo mentioning this Japanese-Vietnamese artist's strange underwater video, which conveys an unlikely fantasy of human life at the bottom of the ocean: an army of rickshas pedaled through the water. It made my trip to the first Yokohama Triennale worthwhile.
Daniel Bimbaum, a contributing editor of Artforum, is director of the stadelschule art academy and the Portikus gallery in Frankfurt.
1 Santiago Calatrava, Bilbao Airport It couldn't have been easy, even before September 11, to rediscover the joyous, gravity-defying thrill of air travel, but Calatrava has done it. A light-drenched update of Eero Saarinen's TWA terminal at JFK (1956-62), this aviary, with its supersonic wingspread, is perched as if ready to soar, transforming arriving and departing passengers into blithe spirits. Another kudos for Bilbao architecture.
2 Clyfford Still (Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC) The least sighted and most ornery of the AbEx constellation, Still was long overdue for another appearance on earth. The swan song of Hirshhorn director James Demetrion, this intense slice (1944-60) of Still's career rekindled an older generation's faith in the painter's craggy genius. And for a younger generation, there were also surprises, not only in the paired presentation of Still's paintings and his own deceptive replications of them (shades of de Chirico and Warhol!) but also in the discovery that, as Philip Taaffe has shown us, all this rhetoric of cosmic stone and fire might become gorgeous decoration.
3 Frank Stella (Universitat Jena) Stella received a well-deserved apotheosis at this venerable university, where Professor Franz-Joachim Verspohl's huge exhibition focused on the artist's recent obsession with Heinrich von Kleist, the strangest of German Romantic writers. Slowly, the apparent chaos of these cyberspace eruptions (one of which, The Prince of Homburg, has just landed in front of the National Gallery) yields an inevitable but unfamiliar order that marries method and madness. For these unexpected dialogues between art and literature, Stella has found his ideal reader in Melville scholar Robert K. Wallace, whose just-published study of the artist's responses to the 135 chapters of Moby-Dick paved the way for his Jena catalogue essay on how this unswerving defender of pure abstraction has re-created Kleist's fantastic narratives.
4 Takashi Murakami (Marianne Boesky Gallery and Grand Central Terminal, New York) Murakami makes the word two-dimensional sound as obsolete as three-dimensional now is for Stella's galactic explosions. These psychedelic profusions of free-floating images (Cyclopean eyes and magic mushrooms), defined by cartoon-sharp contours and vivid colors, are set afloat in a vacuum-packed space so thin that the artist had to coin a new word, super flat, to describe this mutation of Japan's shadowless art. And when, in Grand Central's Vanderbilt Hall, he set aloft three helium-filled UFOs covered with comic strip eyes, he launched some new ideas for Macy's next Thanksgiving Day parade.
5 "Spectacular Bodies" (Hayward Gallery, London) We're all trapped in our bodies, but this vast exhibition, curated by Martin Kemp and Marina Wallace, made us look at our wet insides and dry outsides as if for the first time. A perfect mix of science fair and capsule history of art, the displays moved from Leonardo and Rembrandt to Bill Viola and Marc Quinn, embracing en route everything from obstetrics and wax anatomical models to theories of hysteria and cryogenics. It was a lesson not only about the body's infinite mysteries but about how often in the last five centuries art and science have been one.
6 Ron Mueck (James Cohan Gallery, New York) Speaking of bodies, the legacy of Duane "Frankenstein" Hanson keeps growing. Mueck's creepy variations on the waxworks theme turned us into modem Gullivers. A Brobdingnagian head, worthy of Goliath, lay on its side, permitting us to peek into its slightly open mouth and glimpse a bit of gum and spittle; while over in Lilliput, a naked woman appeared stunned by the miracle of birth while staring at the infant crawling up her belly from her bloody loins. May Mueck's tribe increase!
7 Maurizio Cattelan (Royal Academy of Arts, London; Galeria Zacheta, Warsaw; Christie's, New York) Another nod to Hanson, Cattelan's The Ninth Hour announced the end of the world or, at least, of Christian faith. There, right before our eyes, a meteor from godless outer space has struck the surpreme pontiff himself, leaving a fallen idol clutching a crucifix on a floor covered with shattered glass. As credibly real as a news photo, the tableau vivant set off alarms of heresy and, when seen in Warsaw, was even vandalized by two MPs from the Catholic nationalist party. Should the Brooklyn Museum be its next venue?
8 "Picasso Erotique" (Jeu de Paume, Paris; Musee des Beaux-Arts, Montreal; Museu Picasso, Barcelona) No one's better at blasphemy than Picasso, especially when it comes to sex, this exhibition's engine. In one crucifixion drawing (1938), the Magdalene fondles Christ's genitals, and in the outrageous variations on Ingres's Raphael and La Fornarina, 1968, even a Renaissance pope turns into a Peeping Tom who, behind curtains or seated on a chamber pot, watches the divine Raphael paint and fornicate at the same time. For Picasso, as proved by this dazzling, lifelong anthology of everything from schoolboy dirty pictures to bittersweet old-man memories, lust conquers all.
9 Six Feet Under (HBO) As for sex and death, Alan Ball's HBO series lit up every Sunday evening. In a funeral home littered with freshly embalmed corpses of all ages, the saga of a mortician's dysfunctional family and its wayward sexual adventures unfolds. A marriage of The Addams Family and David Lynch, this pushes the American grotesque to new extremes.
10 "Vies de Chiens" (Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature, Paris) For dog nuts and even sane people, this high-style survey of canine culture, sumptuously designed by Jacques Garcia, was bliss. As if Rococo doghouses and poufs weren't enough, there were portraits of pampered pooches, Spanish dog armor, and even videos of Karl Lagerfeld's matching mistressand-dog clothing. Could Marie Antoinette be alive and well?
Robert Rosenblum, a contributing editor of Artforum, is professor of fine art at New York University and a curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.
1 Best Exit: Morris Lapidus (1902-2001) God bless Morris Lapidus for showing us how to go out in style. Five decades ago the architect was excommunicated from modernism for having too much fun with a series of Miami Beach hotels. He carried on so quietly that many assumed he bad died, until he was swept up in the sudden love for all things midcentury. Lapidus began his belated victory lap by claiming Frank Gebry had stolen his licks. And when he was honored at the White House last year, he didn't wallow in his glory. A few minutes before the ceremony Lapidus was railing to the press about being slandered in the New York Times. (The article in question was published in 1964.) At an awards dinner in New York in November 2000, he stood up from his wheelchair, walked very slowly to the podium, and wagged a crooked finger at the entire design world. "What's the most important thing in architecture?" he asked gravely. "It's people. People! Don't forget that." By January he was dead.
2 The Lost Buddhas of Bamlyan In February the Taliban announced that they would blow up a pair of 1,500-year-old cliff-carved Buddhas, 175 and 120 feet tall, because they were once worshipped and might be again. E-mail flew, the New York Times diverted a river of ink, the UN lumbered to the cause. A few weeks later those idols were gone, but the media rally assured their bombproof immortality as graven images.
3 The Stars In the architectural firmament it was a very big year for binary stars. Cousins Peter Eisenman and Richard Meier worked together on one competition project. (It flopped.) Rem Koolhaas teamed up with Herzog & de Meuron to design a hotel. (It fizzled.) And Koolhaas and Gehry collaborated on an art space in Las Vegas. (It's lighting up the Strip!) Then, in numbers approaching galactic excess, more than thirty fancy architects were invited to design spec houses in a nondescript subdivision on the wrong side of the highway in the Hamptons. How will it all end? Oh yes, I remember: Stars implode.
4 Faut-il pendre les architectes? Should we hang the architects? "Of course!" answers Philippe Tretiack to the question posed in the title of his new book (Editions de Seuil, 2001). This catalog of the horrors of life among the grands projets is a must-read, blinder-lifting work of scathing candor. And as the fabulously overrated Jean Nouvel circles ever closer to New York, it may turn out to be a survival guide as well.
5 Karim Rashid He stands alone astride the once-starless world of industrial design. It was unquestionably Karim Rashid's year, but what can you say to a man whose neo-retro-chic ideas for tchotchkes and chess sets now seem just a touch too tied to that late-'90s go-go spirit he evokes so well in the title of his new book, I Want to Change the World (Universe Publishing, 2001)? Well check this: It's changing.
6 The Architectural Blockbusters Mies and Venturi and Schindler and Gehry. Nouvel and Niemeyer, it's gotten scary. So many chances to bow to our kings! Overhyped shows are my favorite things.
7 Preston Scott Cohen Juries, shortlists, shows, a book: 2001 was a very good year for this emerging Harvard-affiliated architect peddling a new idea: In the absence of "predicaments," architecture must concoct some or die. Cohen's invented travails of choice are elaborately repurposed geometrical systems cribbed from Palladio and other heroes of symmetry. The process mostly results in designs for houses, mostly unbuilt. So he takes some voodoo horizon lines and screws a building into a pretty twist. Long live Architecture!
8 The Twin Towers What can we say? That we loved those buildings? That we hated them? That they were inhumane or aggrandizing? That they dwarfed the city and that they anchored it? That without them there's a big hole in the sky--and thank God the sun is shining through? That we can never forget and that we must rebuild? That we must forget rebuilding and just remember? That we must remember to get it right next time? (That there should be no next time?) That the new buildings should be shorter? Or taller? Or exactly the same height? That one new tower should top out at III stories to mark the date? That we should build four little ones? That rubble should be used in the new concrete to make a "living memorial"? That the site is a grave? That it should be cleaned up and paved over as soon as possible? That a monumental, heroic figurative sculpture should be placed there? That the buildings should be rebuilt as they were? That the buildings should be rebuilt and left empty? That the buildings should be rebuilt as they were but left empty above the points of impact? That they should be named after the phoenix? All of this was actually said, early and often. But the best idea is to let the questions rest in peace; it's too soon for answers.
9 Imported Talent The weekend of October 13 was one of the brightest in years for American architecture. Tadao Ando's tight concrete Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts opened in Saint Louis, and Santiago Calatrava's addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum spread its mobile wings over Lake Michigan. Few such hothouse exotics thrive on American soil (Is it the air? the water? the manure?), but these two seem to be taking nicely.
10 And finally...Attention Prada shoppers! Rem Koolhaas's long-promised, presumed-to-be-fabulous flagship store under construction in SoHo is--for real, this time--"opening soon."
Brooklyn-based architecture and design critic Philip Nobel is a contributing editor of Metropolis magazine and has written for the New York Times, Vogue, and Archirecrural Digest, among other publications.
1 Trent Harris, The Beaver Trilogy Duchamp proffered the infra-mince as a way of describing the imperceptible differences between identical things or concepts, but I don't think he ever tried representing the idea. In Trent Harris's Beaver Trilogy, Beaver, Utah, native Richard Griffith (aka Groovin' Gary) does his "pantomime" of Olivia Newton-John's "Please Don't Keep Me Waiting" as the culmination of his self-proclaimed Beaver High School talent show. Then Sean Penn interprets the Beaver Kid doing Olivia, and Crispin Glover does Sean doing the Beaver Kid doing Olivia. The film gives new resonance to the expression "laugh until you cry." Tracing the blurring concepts of "being," "impersonation," and "acting" (in life or more formally on stage), the movie explores fandom as the fundament of fame. Harris provides a Warholian stare at the stupefying trauma of the posited masculine real as well as some proof that the technology of video (TV) can short-circuit seeing or witnessing, deranging their links to respons ibility or consciousness. Forlorn yet miraculous, the trilogy interrogates repetition's traumatic difference from imitation's narcissistic drives. Bluntly, it's sui generis and fuckin' awesome.
2 Evan Holloway (Marc Foxx, Los Angeles) Perception's his plaything. With The Sculpture That Goes with the Bank, Evan Holloway games with modernism's public face. A huge sculpture dwarfs a model bank, a juxtaposition that slyly reveals and disturbs art's relation to economic institutions. Situated on gray industrial carpet, Incense Sculpture deliriously problematizes pedestal and support, warping the cliched fact that after Brancusi, support and sculpture are a Mobius strip.
3 Alair Gomes (Fondation Cartier, Paris) Not "phagtography" but masculinity taken as obsession's vernacular. More than 400 images (of Brazilian beachboys, at rest or not) from an archive of 170,000, all movingly scopophilic and perhaps salubriously beyond art.
4 Marcel Broodthaers (Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels) The Belgian national museum is falling apart because of factioning state politics: That's somehow sadly appropriate, given Broodthaers's questioning of institutions and media and his poetic interrogation of Belgian identity. With more than 340 pieces, the retrospective had some lulls, but awe ruled.
5 Olivia Newton-John Leitmotif
Given my enthrallment with the Beaver Kid, imagine the thrill I got from discovering an ONJ leitmotif in 2001's two most acute, heartening, yet radically different performances. In Sonic Dan (which had its American debut this year), Stephen Prina finds the structural bridge, ca. 1981, between Steely Dan and Sonic Youth--which he straightforwardly but meditatively performs--in a weirdly moving cover of the number-one song of the entire '800s. Yes, ONJ's "Physical." And for Present Absence, Claude Wampler, walking the tightrope between performer and director (aim "life" and "death"; "action" and "art"), used Steamer Cry Wolf (a Belgian rock band), a six-foot-four male ONJ double, Elizabeth Taylor, and a fart machine, all on or in collaborator John Tremblay's dazzling inverse-catwalk stage, to reinterpret Xanadu, that sublime roller-skating wreck of a film musical.
6 Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin (Matthew Marks, New York) Attempts to show fashion's imbrication with art or vice versa are usually depressing. For all their fashionista cachet, van Lamsweerde and Matadin didn't really attempt this at all, and the nondepressing result was magically more than the sum of its parts--super Franz Gertsch and Robert Greene paintings, cool Jeff Koons sculptural porn, always so-so Marlene Dumas. Topic for discussion: With the same seasonal slot and same art star-turned-curator conceit, consider that it was riskier and more challenging than Robert Gober's show two years before.
7 Mark Roeder (Low, Los Angeles) Mark Roeder dreams Smithson's Enantiomorphic Chambers back into existence--but this time only as reflections. If I were mean, I'd talk about how many pointers he could give Sam Durant. Instead I'll just offer that Roeder may be showing art's mirror stage, in which art sees itself as other.
8 Buffy the Vampire Slayer (UPN) What comes after the gothic outgrows its dark adolescence and becomes adult? Sadness and the knowledge that this existence, even with joy and love, may be hell. Joss Whedon remains as ruthless an artist as he is a loving endurer of life.
9 Jim Lambie (Anton Kern, New York) "Boy Hairdresser." He had me at the title. Plastic hair bands and album covers. Glitter and fandom. Great use of a fake ventilator to flutter a paper cutout of a slight (boy?) odalisque.
10 Avital Ronell, Stupidity (University of Illinois Press)/Wayne Koestenbaum, Andy Warhol (Penguin Lives/Viking) Ronell: "To the extent that writing appears to be commandeered by some internal alterity that proves always to be too immature, rather loudmouthed, often saddled with a pronounced narcissistic disorder no matter how much it makes you want to hide and isolate; or, as part of the same debilitating structure, to the extent that the powerhouse inside you is actually too smart for the dumb positings of language, too mature even for superego's sniping, and way too cool to attempt to put the Saying into words; to the extent, moreover, that writing makes you encounter time and again the drama of the lost object never lost enough, summoning you once more to commit to pointless chase scenes and sizable regressions, all enacted before a sinister superegoical tribunal of teachers and colleagues and those who dumped you and mean-spirited graduate students trying to surpass you, packing heat (sometimes they're o n break, but not all that often)-it abandons you for these and other reasons, more reasonable ones that momentarily elude me, to the experience of your own stupidity." Koestenbaum: "Words troubled and failed Andy Warhol" too, and he found living in a body, surrounded by objects and others, no more illuminating. Ronell opens a dossier on nonunderstanding; Koestenbaum, one on Warhol's "ur-sexual" being, which transformed even boredom into erotic thought. Both texts are philosophical meditations on the misunderstanding known as embodiment. Thinking and writing in and of the new century begins here: Consider this stupid at your peril.
Bruce Hainley is a Los Angeles-based contributing editor of Artforum. Sex, his collaboration with John Waters, will be published by Thames & Hudson in late 2002.
1 Technomania Technophilia, the most persistent of modernist themes, made another comeback. Ironically, the New Economy waned the year of digital art's institutional embrace. Museums eager to court Silicon Valley support staged techie shows and dispensed handsome prizes to techie artists. The corporate cart was put before the horse: Many of the works in SF MOMA's "010101" and the Whitney's "Bitstreams" suggested the artistic potential of digital technology yet were not compelling to look at. (Exceptions: the videos of Jeremy Blake and Adam Ross's Tanguyesque paintings.) The e-'9os already seem distant; the hype has subsided. Let the art begin.
2 "Antagonisms: Case Studies" (Museu d'Arte Contemporani, Barcelona) While the desperately hip techie shows looked to the future, this ambitious effort of MACBA'S Manuel Borja-Villel and Jose Lebrero Stals looked back--to a heroic avant-garde past. An excellent survey from the late '50s on, it conceived the political in art as a changing notion. A little nostalgic, a little dated, yes; but at a moment when critical practice is more or less ignored, "Antagonisms" dared to put political art back on the agenda.
3 "Flashing into the Shadows: The Artist's Film in America 1966-76" (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York) The artist's film of the '60s and '70s has been relatively neglected in comparison with the more easily exhibitable sculpture and photography of those years. A much-needed corrective, "Flashing into the Shadows" elucidated the importance of film in the work of Joan Jonas, Robert Morris, and Dan Graham, among others. At a time when museums are under pressure to present crowd-pleasing extravaganzas, curators Chrissie Iles and Eric de Bruyn pulled off a contemporary show of clear focus and impeccable quality at a major institution.
4 "The Short Century" (Museum Villa Stuck, Munich) It would be impossible for a single show to map the end of colonialism in Africa and the continent's transition into a "postcolonial" era. Okwui Enwezor's "The Short Century" tried to do precisely that--yet, commendably, avoided didacticism. A documentary section established a context for the wide-ranging work, which, displayed in separate galleries, could be seen as art. Marion Kaplan's photos of segregated cocktail parties, Zwelethu Mthethwa's images of post-apartheid South Africa, and Samuel Fosso's self-portraits in different guises were among the standouts. I will not soon forget Jean Rouch's stunning documentary The Mad Masters (1955), in which members of a Nigerian cult act out the roles of colonial oppressors in estranging gestures and speech.
5 Ellsworth Kelly (Matthew Marks Gallery, New York) The dean of abstract painters returned to the rectilinear diptych of the Guggenheim's Orange Red Relief, 1959, with felicitous results. The show's theme was the inflection of shape by shape, of edge by edge, through contrasts of intensity, value, and hue. Impeccably installed, this was an exhibition to return to.
6 Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, Neo-Avantgarde and Culture Industry (MIT Press) The number of significant critical voices in any era can be counted on one hand. Buchloh is one of the voices of our time. That he is a writer of commitment is well known. What is less obvious, perhaps, is the compellingly dialectical quality of his thought. His narrative of the neo-avant-garde is admirably Adornian; the careers of artists as seemingly unrelated as Rodchenko, Warhol, and Broodthaers become fables of accommodation. For Buchloh, confinement is the precondition and fate (if not the ambition) of critical practice itself. His account is sustained, complex, powerful.
7 Paul McCarthy (New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York) What to make of McCarthy's art? Oh, it's about unsettling gender and family stereotypes and unleashing repressed desires--so we are told. Yet, confronted with his art I'm not sure what I'm looking at. His best work resists easy comprehension and pat psychoanalytical framing. At a time when shock has become a hackneyed concept, McCarthy remains "far out." His art surpasses the domesticated grossness, the calculated transgression, of his imitators'.
8 John Di Stefano, HUB A compelling examination of that most fraught and contemporary of experiences: air travel. Occasional voice-overs discussing the fragmented, global subject sound like notes taken during a Homi Bhabha lecture. And yet HUB achieves a visual grain and intensity that persuasively captures the alienating effects of travel in an increasingly mobile society. The final shot of an airplane wing lifting above the runway into a thicket of clouds, accompanied by Di Stefano's dramatic narration, is a small tour de force.
9 Jack Goldstein (1301PE, Los Angeles) This modest show, organized by Brian Butler, made the remarkable early films, sound pieces, and performances of this now obscure '80s star newly accessible. A running loop of Goldstein's early film shorts of centered single images--a barking dog, a diver, a dove clasped by two hands--reminded a younger viewer why these works made such an impression in the late '70s and how they could have inspired Douglas Crimp's deservedly famous account of the Picture as a postmodernist art form.
10 Gregg Bordowitz, Habit The author of the 1993 video Fast Trip, Long Drop revisits what it means to live with HIV. Recalling the methods of feminist artists Yvonne Rainer and Martha Rosler, Bordowitz relates the innocuous details of daily life (waking up, eating, taking pills) to a broader social context. Autobiography becomes a pretext for addressing the global AIDS crisis. Bordowitz contrasts his experience as a middle-class American with access to health care to the dire circumstances of South African and Asian patients who cannot afford the fabled "cocktail." Yet his haunting confessions of weight loss (he no longer recognizes his own face in the mirror) suggest that, for any person with AIDS, even a position of relative privilege is no picnic: The obverse of a life of habit, of domestic tranquility, is the unknown.
James Meyer, assistant professor of art history at Emory University, is the author of Minimalism: Art and Polemics in the Sixties (Yale University Press, 2001).
1. Photojournalism Even if 2001 hadn't gone down as a generally so-so year for cultural production, art would have been hard-pressed to compete with the papers--especially post--September 11. In the past few months, New York Times photographers (as well as those from the Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, and Al-Jazeera) have turned the front pages into an ever-changing gallery of history painting: airplanes, fallen towers, grieving firemen, grim National Guardsmen, Pakistani police beating demonstrators, Afghani refugees fleeing famine and American bombs, grinning airline execs and lobbyists feeding at the Capitol trough. These brilliant photographers responded to extraordinary events; the results were real, immediate, wrenching.
2. Gerhard Richter (Marian Goodman Gallery, New York) Room upon room of paintings that, at first look, seemed either closed off or intricately ugly; over time, the sophisticated palette opened up, and the paintings proved masterworks of touch. Richter mixed his familiar blurring and scraping with strokes and gestures that were always surprising, never gimmicky: swooping arcs, short, incisive cuts, unpredictable, off-center compositions. Although many of these works recall the artist's gray paintings, the current pictures are decidedly more involving. The conceptual apparatus is strong, but more than that, Richter just paints better than everybody else. Who could believe he doesn't believe in painting?
3. Harriet Korman (Lennon, Weinberg, Inc., New York) Perfection. Maybe these stunning abstract paintings don't get talked about because they're too difficult to talk about. Seeing them at Lennon, Weinberg was an experience curiously out of time--these are pictures neither burdened with nostalgia nor obviously beholden to current discourses of modernist revival or rejection. Absolutely new, yet as if they'd always been there. Perversely, for a critic, it's nice on occasion to see art that not only doesn't need you, but doesn't even seem to want you.
4. Andreas Gursky (Museum of Modern Art, New York) The MOMA midcareer exhibition confirmed the generally held high opinion of this artist. The broad intelligence behind his encyclopedia of contemporary life was matched in its rigor only by the photos' sweeping high modernism in all its formal incarnations: grids, stripes, chaotic allover compositions, flatness. Gursky gives our ungraspable, massively mediated modern world form as art.
5. Tom Friedman (New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York) Friedman's DIY art deeply engages everyday materials: bubblegum, pubic hair, masking tape, toothpicks, shit, construction paper. His concentrated attention and consistent set of concerns can make anything into a serious artistic medium--he gives the same consideration to the physical qualities and nature of a tube of toothpaste that Pollock might have given a tube of oil paint. What will one pound of spaghetti do when boiled and dried? What does a piece of paper look like after it's been stared at for 1,000 hours? These questions, and Friedman's art, may seem excessively local at times, but they are one antidote to what can seem like the overwhelming conditions of the past few years: globalism, big theory, bull markets.
6. Vik Muniz, Clouds (New York City) This project, funded by Creative Time, was the best public art I've ever seen. Witty, beautiful, accessible--and, best of all, Muniz's crop duster--drawn clouds disappeared after they were offered, like cotton candy. (How many steel slabs can do that?)
7. Vija Celmins (McKee Gallery, New York) More heavenly visions, in new paintings and prints of the night sky. Like Muniz, Celmins combines the concrete and the abstract (a particular piece of the sky and the image of the sky we all carry around in our heads). Modernism once aspired to address the universal viewer, a character we stopped believing in a few decades ago. But with her skies and stars, Celmins seems to have found subjects that are truly--literally--universal in their appeal.
8. Richard Estes (Marlborough Gallery, New York) After seeing Richter at Marian Goodman one last time, I happily wandered into Richard Estes's show at Marlborough. These heroic genre paintings monumentalize the street: bodegas, women with baby carriages, and vast arrays of produce share urban space with windows reflecting and distorting enormous buildings across the street. Recognizing the corner of Sixth and Spring where a friend works almost gave me a heart attack. Such powerful illusionism in painting is still shocking after all these years.
9. R. Crumb Placemats (Paul Morris Gallery, New York) Offhandedly brilliant, these works were quotidian in the best sense of the word, without pretensions to being anything else. Crumb and his wife wend their way through Paris, eating and drinking and listening to outdated music--out-cranking even the French. Crumb represents the best of subcultural passion, an investment that cannot result in great art (which depends on a connection to a mainstream tradition), but inspires nonetheless.
10. The Crowd It is the dialectic of the one and the many that powers much of photojournalism, as well as much contemporary art, and this year the crowd shot was everywhere: in Paola Morsiani's "Subject Plural" at Houston's Contemporary Arts Museum; in John Connelly's terrific "More Than One," a show of multiple portraits at Andrea Rosen Gallery in New York this summer; in "Everybody Now," which I curated with graduate students at Hunter College (but I credit the zeitgeist for the impulse); in "Uniform" at P.S. 1; and in the work of any number of contemporary artists, including Gursky and the ubiquitous and excellent Do-Ho Suh. The subject has been around since at least the nineteenth century, from the urban hordes surrounding Baudelaire's flaneur to Marx's masses. In today's world, filled with us's and thems, it resonates still more loudly.
Katy Siegel, a contributing editor of Artforum, teaches contemporary art history and criticism at Hunter College. CUNY.
1 Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Busi (Times Square, New York; sponsored by Creative Time and Panasonic for "The 59th Minute: Video Art on the Times Square Astrovision") A three-story kitten laps contentedly from a saucer high above Forty-third Street, looking up only once, as if to regard the crowds below, then returning to its milk. Greedy kitty.
2 John Bock (Anton Kern, New York) Performance-art kookiness lives. Many important dealers and critics in attendance. It was awfully hot, so I had to leave before the promised stinky goat finally came out, but I heard the animal was terrific.
3 James Meyer, Minimalism: Art and Polemics in the Sixties (Yale University Press) Meyer's study traces in intricate and rewarding detail the evolution of the term, the concept, the group. He bases his analyses in large part on close attention to specific exhibitions, such as Kynaston McShine's "Primary Structures" at the Jewish Museum and Samuel Wagstaff's "Black, White, and Gray" at the Wadsworth Atheneum. Notable for its resurrection of "Greenberg's minimalist," Anne Truitt, and for its close attention to the word's star-crossed history in art, fashion, and design. A model of contemporary art history at its most scrupulous.
4 Larry Clark, Teenage Caveman I caught most of this teen-sexuality/monster movie on cable a few days before Halloween. The onscreen guide stated that it was "Mexican. Directed by Larry Clark." I didn't believe it, but yes, it's true: Clark even makes a cameo appearance at the beginning. I thought the film looked insufficiently gorgeous by the standards of recent Clark productions; the frolicking and marauding youths were rangier and less nubile than, say, Natasha Gregson Wagner and Vincent Kartheiser in the photographer-directors Another Day in Paradise (1998). But you've got to hand it to Clark for sticking to his tried-and-true themes even as he moves into a different shade of lurid.
5 lnez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin (Matthew Marks Gallery, New York) Curated by van Lamsweerde and Matadin, "We Set Off in High Spirits" stood out among the summer offerings. Many interesting juxtapositions were on view--e.g.; a Rosenquist painting shared the small gallery with a tiny Lucian Freud and a glass Koons-fucks-Cicciolina sculpture. Loved almost everything, but especially the '70s Swiss photorealist Franz Gertsch's huge canvas depicting the "Sticky Fingers" lifestyle of the era's Euro-bohemians. Also Ed van der Elsken's voluptuous and perverse color photograph of a prone beauty in a leg cast looking out the window at a mountain landscape--darling, what ever happened to you in Crans-Montana?
6 Rob Pruitt, "Pandas and Bamboo" (Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York) Large paintings of pandas amid bamboo settings--in one, only a screen of lonely shoots--all rendered in enamel and glitter. Regardless of the kitschy, draggish, and Ziggy Stardust-y associations, these paintings evinced a certain becalmed stasis verging on gravitas. Has it already been two years since we mourned the passing of Hsing-Hsing at the National Zoo?
7 Karen Kilimnik Paintings (Edition Patrick Frey) Kilimnik's last solo show in New York may not have been her best, but this extremely handsome volume more than makes up for it. Princesses, witches, and supermodels disport themselves in grand and haunted settings. Amber Valletta stands in the foreground while the Hamptons burn. Is she, wicca-supermodel, somehow responsible? Kilimnik's paintings often look as if they had been rendered in nail polish, but that only adds to their ostentatiously lush charm. Great Christmas gift--what creep wouldn't thrill to the black velvet cover?
8 Jan Dibbets (Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York) Late '60s to early '70s photo-Conceptualist classiness. Those works bearing the traces of wear and tear were perhaps the most desirable--vivid tokens of the "last" moment of twentieth-century avant-gardism. Dibbets's Shortest Day at My House in Amsterdam, 1970, tracing the movement of the sun across the artist's abode in the course of a day, was especially lovely, even poetic.
9 Alex Bag, The Van (Armory Show, New York) The van itself was a white Dodge with customized interior, set up near the American Fine Arts booth at the Armory Show, but Bag's video shown inside is, once again, a star turn. The premise: The proprietor of the Leroy Le Loupe Gallery is driving three of his "stars" (all played by Bag) to the Armory, where the van itself will serve as their exhibition space. The young artists--all female--explain their works, talk about what they're wearing, and dream of career advancement. "I want Charles Saatchi to buy out my studio. I want Hauser & Wirth to buy me a Ferrari. I want a solo show at the Fondazione Prada. I want Rosalind Krauss to write an essay about me in October." This is just some of the printable stuff.
10 Shirin Neshat, Possessed (Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York) Imaginative title, no? I actually liked some of Neshat's earlier films, but the preposterously melodramatic Possessed definitely wins my personal award for campiest artwork of the year. A woman looking rather like a Tehranian Anna Magnani walks through the streets of an Islamic city. She might as well be saying: "I'm crazy-possessed! I'm surrounded by men, but they don't see me! Can't they see that I'm crazy?" The chic of Araby.
David Rimanelli is a New York-based critic and a contributing editor of Artforum.
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