My Year in Review

I saw a lot of art in 2008 and wrote about as much of it as I could. What follows is My Top 10, culled from what I posted. It's alphabetical because there's no way I could possibly quantify such a variety of artists, images and issues.

El Anatsui at Jack Shainman
Call them paintings, tapestries or sculptures. Strips of metal are pierced and held together with twisted wire, row-on-row, but the overall effect is one of fluidity and organic growth.

Bourgeois at the Guggenheim
This was the career retrospective of nearly 70 years of work by a woman who, had she been born Louis, would have been bigger than Picasso. I hate the ramps, but metaphorically this was the place to have had the show: Bourgeois's oeuvre is a towering achievement.
Image courtesy of The Guggenheim

Donovan at the ICA, Boston
I ended up writing just about her cubes in a twinned post with Jackie Winsor, but the whole show, from styrofoam cups to Mylar mounds to drinking straws was a marvel of, well, straw into gold.
Image from the Internet

Geo/Metric at MoMA
An under-the-radar gem that was heads above just about anything else MoMA showed this year. And because all the work was from the museum's collection, photography was allowed. I went overboard with four posts.
Foreground, Bridget Riley

Geometry and Color in General
. All Kinds of Geometry and Abstraction from Abts to Zox
. Acute Conditions, Part 1 and Part 2
. Thomas Nozkowski
. On the Geometric Trail Thomas Nozkowski at Pace Wildenstein
Heilmann at the New Museum
The perfect yin and yang of loose-limbed geometry and aggressive color in the best new white box in town.
Image courtesy of the museum

Kapoor at the ICA, Boston
That big red dome of gooey wax, continually slumping and being remade, was the existential showstopper at the ICA in Boston , but don't overlook two concurrent shows at Barbara Gladstone .
Image courtesy of the ICA

Material Color at the Hunterdon Art Museum
“While it is not the entire story, the idea of paint as a sub-stantial material is central in all of these works," says curator Mary Birmingham. (I'm one of the artists in this show.)
Detail of painting by Wil Jansen

Say what you will about the humongopalooza that takes place in December, but where else in the country can you see such a range of art in such a concentrated space for 12 hours a day--and bump into everyone you know while doing it?

Objects, Big and Black
The Armory fair and its satellites in March were full of menacing, mysterious, or quirky objets noirs.

Andy Yoder's licorice pipe, at the Winkleman Gallery booth


A Few Bests and Mosts

Best show that got no critical attention: No Chromophobia
Holland, Roberta, Ken, Jerry, where were you? Curator Rick Witter filled all six exhibitions spaces at OK Harris with paintings in which color, typically embodied via reductive geometry, was the unifying element. (If you left “Color Chart” at MoMA wondering where the other half of the art world was, it was here.)

Best film whose plot you knew that still had you holding your breath: Man on Wire
That's Philippe Pettite on a cable strung between the Trade Towers on the morning of August 4, 1974. I posted it on 9/11.

Photo by Jean Louis Blondeau

Most Ill-Timed Panel: Is The Killer Art Market Killing Art?
Great discussion back in March but who knew that while they were talking, the banks were collapsing, the Dow was at the precipice, and the economy was about to tank? The Downturn in Chelsea became apparent
Best Blasts From the Past in the galleries
Morris Louis and Al Held at Paul Kasmin
Jackie Winsor Cubes at Paula Cooper, image left
Tadasky and Anuskiewicz at D. Wigmore Fine Art

Best 2007 show that continued into 2008: Martin Puryear at MoMA to January 14
Best Bargain of 2008 or any year: Visiting the galleries for free
Best Surprise: The crowd that turned up for Art Bloggers at Red Dot
Sharon Butler (Two Coats of Paint) and I had convened a similar event in Miami 2007 with a small (but lively) turnout, so imagine our surprise when you actually stepped away from the computer and headed over to this one. Thanks to George Billis of Red Dot for providing the space.
Image courtesy of Hrag Vartanian


And the Art Booger Goes to . . . . . MoMA's Color Chart: Reinventing Color 1950 to Today
The show was good, as far as it went. But let's get real. If color is being "reinvented" without women (6 artists out of 44) then it's really not being reinvented, is it?


Donna Dodson said...

Man on Wire was awesome! We saw it today and it was a great way to ring in the New Year with the inspiration to live life to the fullest of one's own vision, talents and passion! A must see!

Donna Dodson said...

PS. Best theater: Aurelia's Oratorio at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts!

Kate Beck said...

Thanks for a great year of posting, Joanne. Your quick, genuine insight and eloquent observation are beginning to feel like expository bedrock -- trumped only by the strength of your own fabulous painting. It just feels good to have a real voice out there. We are indeed lucky to 'have it all'.

Happy new year!

Joanne Mattera said...

Who paid you to say such nice things, Kate? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder of past posts. I look forward to getting my signed copy of the year's blog printed hard copy.

Joanne Mattera said...

You'll have to print it out page by page. Maybe you'll want to have it bound ;-)

Anonymous said...

I can just see you letting me take over the printing and publishing - NOT. Each of the links would have to be changed to URLs. Wonder what the cost would be to do them up right.

Balhatain said...

I can't wait to attend one of these art blog think tanks. :)

Eva said...

Hey I just read Chromophobia and I couldn't agree more. Where's the dames?

Joanne Mattera said...

The dames are in "No Chromophobia," the best show in 2008 that go no critical attention. Link:

Christopher Meredith said...

Joanne, thank you so much for picking "Bourgeois at the Guggenheim" in your top 10. I think that you nailed it straight upon the head with your comment "had she been born Louis, would have been bigger than Picasso". I love, love, her work, and I couldn't agree with you more that she is often forgotten or in the wings of the modern art world, quite possibly because of her gender.