The Best Art Of 2013: A Definitive Survey

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What will the art world remember most about 2013? For me, the most inspiring things this year all coalesced around the unbeatable Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson: The beautiful multi-channel work The Visitors,  at Luhring Augustine (pictured here); his ‘endurance-performance’ concert in collaboration with the National at MoMA P.S.1; his endearingly strange evening of odds-and-ends as a resident of EXPO 1’s Colony, also at PS1. (A late-in-the-day runner-up: The Buzzfeed-hosted The Future Of Content Investing More In Video,  compiled by Brian Driotcour.) Now, I’ve got excellent, if not absolutely impeccable taste, but I figured it would also be worthwhile to tap some artists I admire so that they can share their own thoughts on 2013’s most memorable exhibitions, events, and happenings. Below, a few savvy nominations from art world insiders, from Richard Serra and Talia Chetrit to taxidermy museums and Beck.

DAVINA SEMO (Her own exhibition “Ruder Forms Survive” opens at Marlborough Chelsea on January 10.)
Richard Serra, “Early Work” at David ZwirnerInstallation-view-Richard-Serra-Early-Work-April-12-June-15-David-Zwirner-New-York_22

Patrick Jackson, “The Third Floor” at François Ghebaly, which included the sculpture Hand, pictured below.14_jackson_hand_2_the-third-floor

JOSE LERMA
Ben Stone at Western Exhibitions (Chicago)
“Goofy, earnest and consistently brilliant, you won’t see Stone’s work at next year’s Chicago-heavy Whitney Biennial, but if you ask around, you’ll find out he is the most underrated artist in the city. Frustration, intransigence, low self-esteem are some of the themes he mines in his latest show.  It also includes the work the lamest sculpture ever, which apparently came to him in a dream.”BenStone

Karolina Gnatowski’s “Lined Pages” at Lloyd Dobler Gallery
“Beautiful and insanely labored sculptures become meditations on stardom, fandom and Jimmy Page.”BlackBook_KarolinaGnatowski

Scott Reeder’s “People Call Me Scott” at Lisa Cooley, featuring the text painting below.
“Pure comedy genius.”
ScottReeder

DAMIAN STAMER (his exhibition “Sundays” is on view at Freight+Volume in New York through December 28)
Corpus Americus” curated by Dexter Wimberly, at Driscoll Babcock Gallery
“My favorite work was Jenny Morgan’s deftly painted Mentor, which hints at the vulnerability inherent in the often-complex student/teacher relationship.”DamianStamerpick

 “The Museum of Hunting and Nature was an amazing discovery in Paris. On display is a wonderful mixture of taxidermy; a fox curled up on a Victorian chair, next to a modern video installation of a unicorn standing proudly in the rain. The museum itself is housed in a classic mansion in the Marais, where one can wonder from room to room, an intimate wondering without the peering eye of typical museum security. I’m thankful that this place exists, such a wonderful discovery.”
BrianFinkePic

MATTHEW BRANDT 
Pierre Huyghe at the Pompidou, Paris (on view through January 6, 2014).
“The feeling of endless, surprising and intricate footnotes. Footnotes that continue to unfold for projects that I can only get glimpses of. Simply beautiful.”BlackBook_PierreHuyghe

MATTHEW THURBER (extremely genius graphic novelist)
“Abramovic, etc. take note: Phil Schaap’s Bird Flight is an extraordinary work of extended-duration performance art. Cleverly disguised as a radio show that examines Charlie Parker’s recordings with forensic precision, it has been endlessly unfolding for thirty years.  Monday through Friday, 89.9 WKCR, 8:20-9:30 AM.”BlackBook_PhilSchaap

FREDERICK JANKA  (Associate Director of SculptureCenter)
Talia Chetrit at Leslie Fritz
“This is an exhibition that has resonated with me all fall. A refreshing jolt to see such a smart and sensitive critique of photography and it’s tropes while celebrating the beauty of pubescent naivete. The sheer pleasure this exhibition gave me is hard to describe. Chetrit’s dreamy self portrait as a teenager [pictured below] haunts me to this day.”TaliaChetrit

Building the Sukka,” with 
Bill Copley, Víctor Fosado, Juan José Gurrola,
James Metcalf, Ana Pellicer at Gaga Arte Contemporaneo in Mexico City
“A remarkable exhibition that tells many stories by pulling together many intertwined personalities those who have made significant historical impact and those who have not but somehow bore witness to the other. Not to mention just a fantastic group of artworks, fleshy paintings by Juan José Gurrola from the 80’s, and seemingly weightless hammered brass sculptures by James Metcalf from the 60’s. I also couldn’t help but fall in love with the out of this world jewelry by Victor Fosado from the 70’s.”BlackBook_Sukka_JuanJoseGurrolaJuan Jose Gurrola

RYAN STEADMAN
Wynne Greenwood at Soloway
“This unconventional 2013 show stood out like a dead mouse in a box of McNuggets. Her resolutely amateur aesthetic feels like a punch to our blingy culture’s flabby gut. Disembodied head sculptures (below) made with soccer balls and cardboard punctuated this gallery’s space with an uneasy comic violence. Her characters also starred in twin projections where they acted out aggressively disjointed conversations (Greenwood’s own voice) behind a powerfully spartan soundtrack. The fact that some artists like Greenwood still can–and want to–provoke is a gift that I will take into 2014.”
Wynne

 BRENDAN FOWLER & ANDREA LONGACRE-WHITE (the finest L.A.-based-married-couple-who-are-individually-pushing-the-boundaries-of-photography that you’ll ever meet.)
Judith Berstein at the Box (pictured below), and Torbjorn Rodland at Algus Greenspon
“We see pretty much everything together,” Fowler says, “and we both agree that these are actually two of the best shows we have ever seen in our lives, not just in 2013.”Judith

 WILL COTTON
“My number one moment of the year was the side by side pairing of Titian’s Venus of Urbino (1538) with Manet’s Olympia (1863), in the show called ‘Manet: Return to Venice,’ at the Doge’s Palace in San Marco.”129214954_venice-ma_418553c

ALEX PRAGER (whose “Face In The Crowd” opens at Lehmann Maupin on January 9).
Beck’s Song Reader performance at the Disney Concert Hall with the LA Philharmonic
“It was a special one night only event. Beck gathered various performers to interpret songs from his sheet music in Song Reader. In between the songs people told stories about the history of music in L.A. and different personal stories inspired by music. I’d never seen anything like it. It was unique, ambitious and extremely strange and beautiful.”BlackBook_Beck

JAMIAN JULIANO-VILLANI (whose own show this year was pretty damn great)
“My picks: Diane Simpson at JTT (this woman is old as hell, and gives us all a run for our money, and makes me think about the power of subtlety) and Josh Abelow at James Fuentes (need I say more). My runners-up would be the Brian Belott-curated “Draw Gym” at 247365/Know More Games (I must say, there is a part of me that really enjoyed stomping my drunk ass all over Michael Williams’ drawings on the floor); Mike Kelley at PS1 (I haven’t even seen it yet, BUT I CAN TELL!); and  Ajay Kurian at 47 Canal, pictured below (just so weird, a giant Wizard of Oz-based pop-up book next to a buddha-cum-Slimer sculpture atop a terrarium with personalized M&Ms, reindeer moss…)AjayKurian