TABLE OF CONTENTS

THE ARTISTS' ARTISTS

the Best of 2015

TO TAKE STOCK OF THE PAST YEAR, ARTFORUM ASKED AN INTERNATIONAL GROUP OF ARTISTS TO SELECT A SINGLE IMAGE, EXHIBITION, OR EVENT THAT MOST MEMORABLY CAPTURED THEIR EYE IN 2015.

EMRE HÜNER
Greer Lankton: LOVE ME” (Participant Inc, New York) Perhaps the greatest strength of Greer Lankton’s retrospective at Participant was its sincerity, the honesty with which the artist’s bracing work takes viewers into her world. Lankton’s carefully crafted dolls, placed alongside personal items and ephemera culled from the Greer Lankton Archives Museum (G.L.A.M.) and numerous photographs of the artist taken by her friends, collectively told the story of her life in such a way that the exhibition felt like a walk-through inside her persona. It defied definition.

Greer Lankton, Double Jackie, 1985, Polaroid, 3 1/8 × 4 1/8".

CECILY BROWN
“Grand Design: Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry” (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) This exhibition of drawings, woodcuts, printed books, and weavings blew me away—especially the nineteen immense tapestries that worked both close-up and at a distance. The scale of these sumptuous weavings is overwhelming—one felt engulfed by the complex scenes. Most compelling were the gruesome martyrdoms and beheadings depicted. The four tapestries gathered here from Coecke’s masterwork, Seven Deadly Sins, 1532–34, were packed with grim subject matter, in stark contrast to their jaw-droppingly gorgeous material physicality. Despite the expressive power and muscularity of their imagery, all of Coecke’s works are strangely serene—the result of their woven fabrication. They’re as flat as jigsaw puzzles, and however menacing their scenes, they shimmer softly like stained glass.

Pieter Coecke van Aelst, Seven Deadly Sins: Gluttony, ca. 1550, wool, silk, silver-gilt thread, 12' 9“ × 22' 3”. From Seven Deadly Sins, designed 1532–34, woven ca. 1550–60.

PETER FISCHLI
Emil Michael Klein (Galerie Francesca Pia, Zurich) How to look at a painting that can do everything? I like to think about Piero Manzoni’s infinite lines or Sigmar Polke’s cheerfully desperate boredom loop when I look at Emil Michael Klein’s paintings. Some of his lines seem to leave the canvas, become invisible for us, and travel to a parallel universe where the distorted echo of the question Why painting? is still audible. But space-time curvature reshapes the lines and sends them back to the terrestrial canvas, where they become paintings that can do everything.

Emil Michael Klein, Untitled, 2014–15, oil on canvas, 99 1/4 × 66".

MARTINE SYMS
Marshawn Lynch’s guide to life.” Over the past year, Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has become my role model. Though he rarely gives interviews, every word he speaks to the media is a morsel of wisdom. My favorite recent film is a six-second Vine excerpted from a December 2014 NFL Total Access interview, which circulated with the caption “Marshawn Lynch’s guide to life.” Dramatically lit against a black backdrop, Lynch explains, “I mean know I’m gon’ get got. But I’m gon’ get mine more than I get got though.” This is the beast-mode mind-set. Get yours.

Screenshot of James Dator’s Vine posting “Marshawn Lynch’s guide to life.”

HANK WILLIS THOMAS
“One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North” (Museum of Modern Art, New York) I love the archive as much as I love fine art. This exhibition and its corresponding website were gifts that kept on giving. You could get lost in the work, or get lost just contemplating the vast story being told through the amazing research and didactic information that MoMA made available on their online portal. I first saw all sixty panels of “The Migration Series,” 1940–41, as a teenager in Washington, DC. (By a stroke of luck, I even met Lawrence at the time.) I knew then that I would try for the rest of my life to make something as thoroughly impactful.

Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series Panel No. 57: “The female workers were the last to arrive north,” 1940–41, casein tempera on hardboard, 18 × 12".

DAVID DIAO
Arthur Ou (Brennan & Griffin, New York) This show presented fourteen photographs, unassuming in size, each depicting someone reading. As it turns out, the subjects are themselves photographers. They are reading selections from Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, an early book in which the philosopher famously attempted to fit language to the world, though he would later come to reject the validity of this endeavor. Two chairs additionally offered three separate copies of the tract, each of which supplanted a given word—world, picture, or fact—with photograph, whenever the target word appeared in the text. I was impressed by Ou’s reach within the photographic community. I knew the work of three of the photographers he shot; now I want to know the work of the others.

Arthur Ou, Moyra Davey reading 4.114: It must set limits to what can be thought; and, in doing so, to what cannot be thought. It must set limits to what cannot be thought by working outwards through what can be thought., 2015, selenium-toned gelatin silver print, 9 × 7".

NAIRY BAGHRAMIAN
Phel Steinmetz (Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, La Jolla, California) This small exhibition of prints and artist’s books by Steinmetz (1944–2013) engaged me not only for what was there but for what was not. Modesty was purposefully built into the artist’s oeuvre. A friend of Allan Sekula’s, Fred Lonidier’s, and Martha Rosler’s—and a collaborator of Eleanor Antin’s, among others—he dedicated most of his life to making text-and-photo books. Some of these books take as their subject a critical analysis of his own family as exemplary of the basic unit of American postwar capitalism. Most of them exist only as handmade artist’s proofs intended for a publisher. I like to imagine what the epically free-thinking film critic Frieda Grafe (1934–2002) might have said about these filmic volumes.