COLUMNS

  • Beau Rutland

    I’M TEMPTED HERE to list off some of the great monographic undertakings of 2012. They were certainly satisfying, but the year’s instances of artists refusing to supply demand seem to be more memorable in the end.

    What should have been a staid pairing of two bastions of art history, “Rembrandt and Dégas” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art left a surprisingly earnest impression of the young modernist, who defied academic standards by looking to the Dutch master’s penumbral canvases for inspiration. The resulting exhibition included several self-portraits of a vulnerable artist worried over what he

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  • John Beeson

    FROM THE DRONING CHORDS of Sonic Youth’s 1984 “Death Valley ’69” that echoed down the pitch-black entry hall to the sinking feeling in my stomach brought on by Richard Kern’s Fingered, 1986, KW’s “You Killed Me First” kept a firm hold on me. My hesitations about the exhibition’s dutifully spray-painted walls aside, the eighteen films on view told a brilliantly fucked-up story of twentysomethings on New York’s Lower East Side in the 1980s and their spite for their parents’ generation’s counterculture-turned–dominant culture. The filmmakers’ assaults on their own bodies––complemented by plenty of

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  • Travis Diehl

    THE FIRST ARTIST was probably a trickster scratching footprints in the dirt—or so wrote British Minimalist Bob Law in his 1964 essay “The Necessity of Magic in Art.” Fast-forward to Los Angeles in 2012, where the “tricksters” of the 1960s and ’70s exerted an unusual gravity. At Philipp Kaiser and Miwon Kwon’s “Ends of the Earth” at MOCA Geffen, the sound track of Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson’s Mono Lake, 1968–2004, overwhelmed the industrial-scale gougings with schmaltzy piano arpeggios every fifteen minutes, while for gutsy simplicity nothing came close to Agnes Denes’s tubular map

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  • Brian Droitcour

    THE BEST PAINTING OF 2012 was the botched Jesus, the inexpert restoration of a nineteenth-century religious fresco. You can Google the restorer’s name and the location of her church if it matters to you; the painting interests me as one that unfolds online, shared and liked and collaged by thousands of nameless users. I suspect it went viral for the same reason that videos like Double Rainbow do: It expresses a selfless, raw awe at beautiful mysteries. Early twentieth-century biology demonstrated that a tick perceives nothing but its thirst for blood and the body temperature of animals that can

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  • Marco Tagliafierro

    THIS YEAR, three exhibitions shared a similar theme: the science of building bonds that are capable of signifying multiple and unexpected connections between the past and the present, between inside and outside, and among various social, aesthetic, and behavioral concepts. “Caption,” the first retrospective of Alberto Garutti’s work, which is curated by Paola Nicolin and Hans Ulrich Obrist and is on view at the Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (PAC) in Milan until February 3, 2013, is one such show. A standout piece consists of twenty-eight devices for recording audio in the galleries, and is

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  • Mara Hoberman

    AMID GENERAL TIGHTENING of purse strings in Europe, 2012 was a big year for Paris museums. The Palais de Tokyo unveiled a $26 million renovation that tripled its size in April, the Louvre opened a new Islamic wing (its largest expansion since I. M. Pei’s glass pyramids) in September, and “Hopper fever” made the Grand Palais’s retrospective (the American painter’s first in France) a true blockbuster this fall. However, the Musée de l’Art Moderne still has on view the best show of the year. Honoring MAM’s seventieth anniversary, “L’Art en guerre” (Art at War) delivers on its ambitious objective

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  • the Gemäldegalerie

    THIS SUMMER, old-master paintings were—for once—a hot topic. The Gemäldegalerie, the branch of Berlin’s state museums long celebrated for its world-class collection of late-medieval to eighteenth-century art, might soon have a new purpose: housing a collection of Surrealist art recently donated by prominent Berlin collectors Ulla and Heiner Pietzsch. Lacking sufficient exhibition space to display these works or funds for a new building, the city’s foundation of state museums, the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, decided to use the Gemäldegalerie to display the Pietzsch Collection,

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  • M. F. Husain’s Through the Eyes of a Painter

    IN A RADICAL AND SHORT-LIVED initiative in the 1960s, India’s national Films Division (established as a documentary unit just after independence in 1947) invited artists and filmmakers to develop their own experimental projects. Under the direction of visionary chief advisor Jean Bhownagary, this was a major undertaking for a country with a fledgling infrastructure to support even conventional art forms; ironically, it led to experimental cinema in India emerging with the government’s funding and at its insistence rather than in opposition to it. In 1967, this gave prominent painter Maqbool Fida

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  • Forrest Bess

    THE CONTINUED mythic, outsider status of Forrest Bess is a testament to the sheer anxiety he sparks around hierarchies of vision and social organization—hierarchies that are central to how we legitimate works of art. It is no small feat for an artist who showed regularly during the peak years of Betty Parsons Gallery (that epicenter of the development and promotion of Abstract Expressionism) to continually reemerge as a holy grail of glimmering and elusive marginality. Since Bess’s death in 1977, his work has made cameo appearances in discourses as varied as an essay in Art Journal griping

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  • Arte Povera in Naples

    CAN A HISTORICAL EXHIBITION of Arte Povera, which necessarily reframes as sculptures works that were once performative and ephemeral, provide something new to contemporary viewers and still honor the unrepeatability of the first experiment? One answer was posed by “Arte Povera più azioni povere 1968” (Poor Art Plus Poor Actions 1968) at the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina (MADRE) in Naples this past winter. (The exhibition was part of “Arte Povera 2011,” a nationwide celebration coinciding with the 150th anniversary of Italian unification.) Curated by Eduardo Cicelyn and Arte Povera’s

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  • the new Islamic art galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

    ON NOVEMBER 1 OF LAST YEAR, after much anticipation and a series of celebratory events, the new “Islamic Art” galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York opened to the public. They had been closed for more than eight years to allow for the renovation of the Greek and Roman galleries immediately below (the heavy machinery’s vibrations might have damaged the delicate objects) and during their hiatus had undergone their own extensive renovation. Their surface area and content have been expanded, their appearance and significance transformed. The result is nothing less than spectacular.

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  • the spaces of occupation

    The eviction of protesters from New York’s Zuccotti Park last November has done little to diminish the significance of occupation as a mode of political action. Looking back on last year’s many encampments—and their disruptions of urban space—Artforum invited sociologist Saskia Sassen to discuss the relationship of occupation to notions of territory and power, while artist Hans Haacke, whose own work has famously made visible the hidden economies and spatial politics of art, presents a selection of photographs he took at Occupy Wall Street this past fall.

    OCCUPYING IS NOT THE SAME as

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