Welcome back to regular posting. Over the next couple weeks I’ll have posts on several of the shows mentioned below, Julius Shulman, the Getty Villa, museum acquisitions, and more.
Once upon a time I considered top ten lists to be a little cheesy. Then I read this post from 2Blowhards in 2003 about why they’re worthwhile exercises, and I’m converted.
My 2005 list is slightly different from my past efforts. This year: Exhibts only, and in keeping with the spirit of the site, I’ll keep it to about 1880-forward. (So no Rembrandt at the NGA.) In no particular order, here is my 2005 top ten list:
1.) Katharina Grosse at Solvent Space. Grosse updates German Romanticism with an industrial sensibility, both in the tools she uses (spray guns and air compressors) and with her loud palette. For an exhibition at Virginia Commonwealth University’s new site-specific installation gallery (the space was once an auto shop, hence the gallery’s name), Grosse’s swirling colors completely surrounded the viewer. It was like being in a Friedrich sea… of neon. Related: Grosse’s website. My favorite Grosse is at the Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
2.) Jasper Johns: Catenary at Matthew Marks. I’m fascinated by the work artists make late in their lives. Late work is often an artist’s most self-revealing work. Examples include Goya’s Black Paintings and Matisse’s cutouts (and the fantastic color-soaked paintings that preceded them). Johns’ Catenary series is unlike the dense, even baroque works that Johns painted from the 1970s into the mid-1990s. They’re stripped down, elegant, and re-emphasize mark-making in a way redolent of Johns’ earliest work. Related: Coming to the Frick in February: Goya’s Last Works.
3.) Chuck Close: Self-Portraits 1967-2005 at SFMOMA. Post forthcoming, just saw it in SF. (The exhibit opened at the Walker.)
4.) Anselm Kiefer at MAMFW. I’ll have more on this show later this week too. Speaking of New York museums: This show isn’t going to one of them, a reminder that major shows need not go to New York. (Tour stops: Montreal, DC, SF.)
5.) Matisse: The Fabric of Dreams. It’s hard to go wrong with a major Matisse show. This exhibit was rich in both visuals and history. Picasso had his cubes, Matisse had his textiles.
6.) Ecstasy at MOCA. Yet another show I just saw, so a post is forthcoming. I’ll just note this: There are four group shows on my list. None was originated or hosted by a New York City museum. Simple reason: No New York museum did a good full-size group show in 2005. (The Whitney did some nice single-gallery, themed permanent collection installations.) This isn’t exactly a surprise: New York museums seem to have lost their nerve/interest. I have high hopes that MoMA’s Without Boundary: Seventeen Ways of Looking show will buck the trend.
7.) Thing at the UCLA Hammer Museum. I know it would have been expensive, but it’s a shame this show didn’t travel east. If you work at an art .com or at a .org, you need the catalog so you can catch up. Related: The show on MAN.
8.) Agnes Martin at Dia: Beacon. Dia is slowly rolling out a multi-part Martin retrospective. The second part debuted in April just after part one closed, and part three opened a couple of weeks ago. (I’ve not yet seen part three.) Dia has done a fantastic job with the series, right down to using film on its sawtooth skylights to filter just the right light onto individual paintings.
9.) Surface Charge at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Anderson Gallery. Curated by Sabine Russ and Gregory Volk, this show smartly demonstrated ways in which artists have become interested in working with structures/buildings. The show’s website is good, but it’s late-to-market catalog (not yet published) could be even better.
10.) Slide Show at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Simple premise: Contemporary artists have made use of this simple post-war consumerist item that your parents (or you!) probably owned. Here’s what they did with it. Baltimore also deserves credit for installing the show wonderfully. Related: NPR’s Susan Stone.
Honorable mention: Tim Hawkinson at the Whitney, Dmitri Kozyrev at Cirrus, Collage and Assemblage in California in the 60s at 871 Fine Arts, Sean Scully at the Phillips, Cai Guo-Qiang at the Hirshhorn, the Miami fairs, Robert Smithson’s Floating Island, MoMA’s Janet Cardiff 40 Part Motet installation, Extreme Abstraction at the Albright-Knox.