The Best Art of 2017
Monumental in scale, discipline, material and theme, some of the most renowned, international creatives exhibited their new and most famous works in New York this year. Whether set within gallery institutions or as part of the public landscape, the exhibitions have immersed audiences in an impactful and significant experiential context. From Eric Fischl: Late America to Louis Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait, take a look below at 10 of Artspeak’s most popular art exhibitions of 2017.
1- Laura Owens at the Whitney Museum of American Art
2017 was the year of woman painters as feminist and sex positive art gained arguably unprecedented acclaim, both in reaction to the Trump administration and later with #metoo movement. Amongst woman artists who received exceptional career surveys, Laura Owens stood out with her ongoing mid-career retrospective at The Whitney. The L.A.-based painter brought 60 of her quirky, smart, and thought-provoking paintings to the museum that has been a major supporter of her work since the ‘90s. Owens’ paintings cull inspiration from American culture, comics, art history and personal narratives, and demonstrate painterly achievement that is equally contemporary and timeless.
On View Through February 4th, 2018
2- We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965—85 at the Brooklyn Museum
Another groundbreaking institutional project dedicated to woman artists was the Brooklyn Museum’s survey on black radical female artists whose works coincided with the second-wave feminist movement during the mid-‘60s and further on. The ambitious checklist included works by Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, Lorraine O’Grady, Ana Mendieta, Senga Nengudi, and many more; the intergenerational conversation between artists from different eras demonstrated the cruciality and timelessness of politically-charged art. Through a variety of mediums and themes, the exhibition served as a historical resource about a group of artists kept out of the spotlight for a long time by the mainstream art market.
April 21—September 17, 2017
3- Serialities at Hauser & Wirth
While most galleries reserve summer months for laid-back and entertaining group exhibitions, Hauser & Wirth’s ambitious group exhibition Serialities opened during the busy winter season at the gallery’s spacious Chelsea location. With a simple, yet promising premise—artworks that come in series—the exhibition brought together some of the most prolific artists of recent decades. Inspired by the German photographer August Sander’s famous People of the 20th Century photo-series from mid-20th century and Sherrie Levine’s related After August Sanders project, this group exhibition accumulated works by Zoe Leonard, Sol LeWitt, Mira Schendel, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Sophie Calle, Carl Andre, and many others within a museum-quality installation and conceptualization.
February 15 — April 8, 2017
4- Nicola L.: Works, 1968 to the Present at the SculptureCenter
It’s hard to imagine that the New York-based French artist Nicola L., who has been producing art for half a century in and out of New York, never received an institutional survey in the U.S. The SculptureCenter’s timely exhibition dedicated to the artist’s furniture-inspired sculptures that subvert notions of femininity and representation of womanhood filled the Long Island City institution’s spacious main gallery in the fall season. Referring to the female form with accents of utilitarianism, Nicola’s voluptuous and amusing sculptures scrutinize domestic ideals and roles attributed to women in the society.
September 18—December 18, 2017
5- Carol Rama: Antibodies at the New Museum
Italian painter Carol Rama, who passed away at her hometown in Turin in 2015, would be proud of this New Museum survey dedicated to her spectacular paintings that merge graphic sexual moments with introspection and transcendence. Borrowing cues from Abstract Expressionism and Neo-Expressionism, Rama immersed the audience into a sensual and provoking experience through works that exceeded a hundred in total. Using bodies in their most abject and raw forms, the great painter orchestrated a highly personal, yet captivatingly universal visual aura with right doses of social commentary on religion, womanhood, and labor.
April 26—September 10, 2017
6- Felix Gonzalez-Torres at David Zwirner
Gaining gradual resonance with shifting political landscapes and social climates, art created by the late Felix Gonzales-Torres during his short life was the subject of an impressive exhibition at David Zwirner’s 20th street location. Coinciding with the gallery’s announcement for joint-representation of the artist’s estate with Andrea Rosen Gallery, this selection of works from the artist’s different bodies of works once again manifested the timelessness and universality of Gonzales-Torres’ silent and poetic visual language that resists any art historical classification. What can be defined as conceptual art at its best, the artist’s often times participatory and always haunting works once again caught the New York audience with surprise and contemplation.
April 27—July 14, 2017
7- Pier Paolo Calzolari: And I Say at Marianne Boesky Gallery
20th century Italian art movement Arte Povera had a major renaissance in 2017 with exhibitions around the city and the opening of the art center Magazzino in Hudson, New York. Amongst many group surveys dedicated to the last biggest Italian art movement, Marianne Boesky Gallery’s solo exhibition of new works by Pier Paolo Calzori was fun, exceptional, and well-focused. Stemming from various sources of inspirations including classical Italian art as well as African graffiti and Japanese decorative arts, the exhibition contained the playfulness of Arte Povera with Calzolari’s unique and personal artistic pursuits that often times challenge the movement’s standards.
February 16—March 25, 2017
8- Lyric on a Battlefield at Gladstone Gallery
Among summer group shows which became the trademark of the dormant art season, the standout was Lyric on a Battlefield at Gladstone Gallery. Adopting its title from a line in an Adrienne Rich poem from 2009, the exhibition contemplated on lyric as a personal and introspective narrative of past events. Weighing heavy in painting with works by Suzanne McClelland, Dawn Mellor, and Liz Magor, the exhibition delivered a fun, poetic, and exhilarating experience. The biggest discovery of the show was the Brazilian artist f.marquespenteado, whose mixed media work in painting and sculpture perfectly epitomized the exhibition’s thematic concerns.
June 23 — August 4, 2017
9- Louis Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait at the Museum of Modern Art
MoMA’s survey of paper-based work by Louise Bourgeois, An Unfolding Portrait, has been in the works for years, and, sure, it was worth the wait. The seminal artist, whose sculptures are some of the most well-known works of art today, received an alternative conceptualization with this groundbreaking exhibition that offers an institutional vision to her less-known work in print and artist books. Also housing Bourgeois’ archive for her work in paper (close to 1,200 works), the museum approaches the artist’s meditative works on paper both with academic angle and personal touch, orchestrating connections between seminal moments and creative stimuli behind the works on view for the audience.
Through January 28, 2018
10- Eric Fischl: Late America at Skarstedt
In a year dictated by socio-political turmoil, artists responded to the prevalent unrest through their own artistic traits. While banners, protest signs, and slogan designs dominated general landscape, some artists remained loyal to their own methods to deliver their voices of resistance. Eric Fischl’s solo exhibition, Late America, at Skarstedt was amongst shows that achieved to maintain aesthetic gravitas while making its point clear. The exhibition’s namesake painting shows a young boy wrapped in American flag, standing by the pool on the backdrop of an upper class suburban house. A fully naked man, whose head remains invisible, lies on the edge of the pool, while the kid—most probably his son—stares at this motionless and deadpan body. Two workers mowing the yard at the back complete the scenery.
May 2— June 24, 2017