Art Fag City at The L Magazine: Ten Best Exhibitions of 2010 + The Three Worst

by Paddy Johnson on December 22, 2010 · 3 comments The L Magazine

John Baldessarri

My top ten list is out at The L Magazine. The first two below.

1. John Baldessari: Pure Beauty at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Is John Baldessari the most important artist of his generation? His ginormous traveling retrospective, currently on view at The Met, suggests he might be, highlighting a massive body of work that reflects both a curator’s dream and the contemporary condition. These days, we’re all participating in the sorting of images, which is why the half-century Baldessari has spent examining why we like the pictures we do is so valuable. This takes different forms of course, from a series of photographs in which the artist chooses carrots he likes, to a grid of self-portraits in which he sports different haircuts and facial hair. Mostly this show makes number one on my list though because of the sheer volume of work that resembles an unusual stock image collection. Somehow there seems very little that is as relevant to contemporary artists as Google image search.

2. The 2010 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum


No giant survey show is perfect, but this iteration of the Biennial was as good as it gets. As I wrote at the time, a lot of this is luck; it’s not like there’s a selection criteria here past what’s been good over the last two years—but so what? The exhibition was restrained enough that viewers could absorb everything they looked at. There were only 55 artists this year, as opposed to 81 in 2008. Curators Francesco Bonami and Gary Carrion-Murayari also arranged the show so that works requiring longer viewing times were grouped together, which is greatly respectful to viewers’ needs. Highlights from this Biennial included Nina Berman’s war vet photographs, Sharon Hayes’ video installation and Sarah Crowner’s black and white zigzag paintings.

To read the full list click here.

  • Iwallace

    Sehgal came to speak at Sarah Lawrence College some time in March, and his explanation of ‘This Progress’ was as weak as my experience of the piece itself — some royal BS about ‘democratizing’ the museum experience, when angry visitors were literally asking for their $20 back after seeing the piece. I get it; he’s pushing the commodification of concepts while at the same time conveniently making a whole lot of money off of his objectless art. But if he succeeds, all he’s really done is carved out an even more odious niche of media-driven, money-centered, boring, pretentious art. What’s the point? I’m glad you agree that the piece was overblown and totally overrated.
    That said, my mom loved it. So.

  • guest

    e-flux had three gems this year: Allan Sekula, Mladen Stilinović, and Raqs Media Collective. It’s too bad that none of these made the list

  • http://brendanscottcarroll.com Brendan

    Charles LeDray: Workworkwork at the Whitney Museum. I’ve admired his work for years but have never had the opportunity to see it in person. LeDray’s miniatures provided a much needed oasis in a city full of bombast, size, and noise. I was also taken by Paul Thek’s work as well. His work of featuring meat, flesh, and human hair, gave me the willies. I was taken by his late drawings — full of whimsy and humor. The work Miroslav Tichy at ICP. Tichy’s voyeuristic photographs of young women in public parks and pools radiate a soul in distress. I had the feeling he made these photographs because he HAD to make these photographs. Abstract Expressionist New York at MoMA. For me, this show was uneven. If anything, it made me reevaluate artists I had once admired — namely Robert Motherwell, Ad Rhinehardt, William Bazitoes. That being said, I continue to admire the paintings of Gorky, Guston, and de Kooning. Hans Hoffman has a great early painting in the first room called Spring. Graphic Heroes, Magic Monsters: Japanese Prints by Utagawa Kuniyoshi. This guy, he was drinking some strange brew.

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