As the art world makes its way back from Miami, all eyes are turning to the Second Annual Art Awards, to be handed out by ceremony creator Rob Pruitt and Glenn O’Brien at Webster Hall on Wednesday evening. As with last year, it’s time for some highly subjective (and in one case very self-interested) merit- and hype-based picks to win the art world’s self-satirizing top honor on Wednesday night.
Alternative Space of the Year
Should win: Light Industry
This is tough, because we’re partial to both Brooklyn nominees, though we’re going to go with Light Industry because they had such a big year full of increasingly ambitious screenings, performances, events and exhibitions, capped by their move to Downtown Brooklyn. (Cleopatra’s: keep up the great work!)
Will win: Artists Space
A year book-ended by great shows—Sean Snyder right now and the quasi-historical installation exhibition Rip It Up And Start Again back in January—and the announcement that Rirkrit Tiravanija had joined the Soho artist-run gallery’s board
Alternative Project of the Year
Should win: Apartment Show
The roving program of intimate exhibitions held in apartments and lofts all around the city (especially in Brooklyn) is exactly our kind of event.
Will win: INDEPENDENT or Jennifer Rubell
This is impossible to call, because on the one hand the free Armory-alternative art fair started by Elizabeth Dee in the former Dia Art Foundation building, INDEPENDENT, was a welcome and very well-executed change from the excess and incomprehensible overload of Armory Week, free and fun, and still a place for blue chip galleries to sell expensive pieces; on the other hand Jennifer Rubell‘s exclusive Performa 09 opening feast, also at the Dia/X-Initiative space, is exactly the type of lavish, slightly grotesque art world event that Rob Pruitt set out to simultaneously lampoon and celebrate with these awards.
Artist of the Year
Should and will win: Louise Bourgeois
It’s sad that she didn’t win last year, when she could have come to the podium and made an at times sweet, occasionally cutting speech to the adoring art world masses who she largely avoided over her half-century career, but a posthumous prize will have to do. (There’s a sliver of a chance that, with the female vote split between Bourgeois and MoMA resident Marina Abramovic, John Baldessari will pull an upset on the strength of his globetrotting retrospective currently at the Met; highly unlikely, but odds-makers should be mindful.)
Blogger or Critic of the Year
Should and will win: Paddy Johnson
In case you were wondering, this is that highly self-interested prediction alluded to earlier. But honestly, between her Sound of Art project, ubiquity at openings, parties, press events, on Twitter, and her constant, fearless blogging, we sincerely see this as a no-contest category (especially ‘cuz Saltz took it last year).
Curator of the Year
Should win: Laura Hoptman
The former New Museum curator returned to her old place of work this fall, moving up a few ranks at MoMA in the process. We didn’t always dig her shows at the NuMu (Brion Gysin, no thanks; Elizabeth Peyton, yes please), but she offered a vital and rigorous contrast to the museum’s trendy tendencies. We look forward to her work in the venerated Department of Painting and Sculpture at MoMA.
Will win: Massimiliano Gioni
And, speaking of New Museum trendiness, there’s Gioni, who effectively became the institution’s co-lead curator (with Richard Flood) when his role was expanded to “Associate Director and Director of Exhibitions.” His most recent show was the Urs Fischer exhibition last winter, and since then he served as Artistic Director of the Gwangju Biennale.
Exhibition outside the United States
Should and will win: John Baldessari: Pure Beauty, Tate Modern, London
We’re gonna go with what we know, which is to say the John Baldessari retrospective that started in London before traveling to Los Angeles and currently at the Met. Few contemporary artists have had careers whose trajectories are so well served by the chronological format of your conventional retrospective, and Baldessari’s has the double advantage of providing a nice chronology of the evolutions in contemporary American art since the 1960s.
Group Show of the Year, Gallery
Should and will win: Lush Life, various Lower East Side locations, New York
Yeah, no contest here, the Richard Price novel-themed group show spanning nine LES galleries curated by Omar Lopez-Chahoud and Franklin Evans was by far the most interesting, engaging and innovative group show of the year (except, maybe, the Brucennial, whose non-nomination here or in the “Alternative Project of the Year” category is unfortunate).
Group Show of the Year, Museum
Should win: In & Out of Amsterdam: Travels in Conceptual Art, 1960—1976, MoMA
This is going to be an unpopular pick, but when the contemporary offerings are all so radically uneven we feel it makes more sense to reward really adventurous, illuminating and unconventional historical or thematic surveys, and Christophe Cherix’s focused look at a micro-movement through a recently acquired archive of its zine, Art & Project Bulletin, is a perfect example of just that type of art historical treasure trove.
Will win: 2010 Whitney Biennial
Because, seriously, how often do you have a Whitney Biennial that people actually like? And not just kinda like, really, really like, as in resort to hyperbole and call it the best Whitney Biennial ever even though no living person has been to all 75. That merits some kind of award, right?
New Artist of the Year
Should win: Liz Magic Laser
Pfff… Even moreso than last year, when Ryan Trecartin took this category on this strength of his first major museum exposure, this category is still in catch-up mode, rewarding young-ish artists who’ve been around for years. Still, Liz Magic Laser’s videos and performances at MoMA PS1’s Greater New York, as well as ongoing projects like performing Brecht in NYC ATMs, make her our favorite of the not-that-new artists nominated.
Will win: Tauba Auerbach
At the opposite end of the spectrum from Liz Magic Laser’s messy performances are Auerbach’s meticulous prints and paintings of digital and pixelated distortion. With strong showings at the Biennial and Greater New York, this is pretty much guaranteed to be her year.
Solo Show of the Year, Gallery
Should win: Gelitin: Blind Sculpture, Greene Naftali Gallery
Firstly, we should point out how absurd it is that only New York exhibitions are nominated here. Okay, moving on, the performance collective’s messy blindfolded mess at Greene Naftali was easily last season’s most productive and entertaining in-gallery residence.
Will win: Jonathan Horowitz: Go Vegan! Gavin Brown’s Enterprise
Gavin Brown’s Enterprise also represents Rob Pruitt. That should do it.
We’ll have a full recap for you on Thursday.
(photo: Roger Kisby , © The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)