After more than a year and a half of scathingly critiquing the New Museum, isn’t it time we provided the institution with feedback on what shows we would actually like to see there? A while back my colleague Jerry Saltz started a Facebook thread seeking to address this question: Which artists should receive a solo show at the Museum? I can think of a few.
Some notes on my criteria: I omitted all artists under the age of 35. Younger artists typically don’t have enough work to produce the varied shows I’d like to see, and with the pervasive hype of youth culture these days, it’s mid-career artists who need the support. I also excluded artists who I assume will receive a solo museum show within the next five years with or without my mention; Dana Schutz and R.H. Quaytman fit this bill. For the rest, I looked for good work that I’d like to see receive more attention.
1. Laura Parnes
I’ve been saying this for two years now, but video artist Laura Parnes deserves more attention. Born in 1968, Parnes creates nuanced narrative videos, often with a hint of macabre humor. The New Museum would easily hit the ball out of the park if they launched an exhibition of her work.
2. Julie Voyce
Known in the Toronto art community as one of the great underrated artists in the city, this 53-year-old abstract printmaker is still un-represented. Voyce has 35 years worth of work ready for curation. I’m ready to be overwhelmed.
3. Julieta Aranda
Julieta Aranda’s efforts to re-map economic relationships within the art world merit recognition. Her Pawnshop, a small space on the Lower East Side where artists could trade their work, effectively eliminated cash as currency, as did e-flux video rental, which offered free rentals and screenings. It’s hard to imagine what Aranda would do to fill the New Museum given her practice, but that’s part of her appeal. That Bowery real estate is worth a lot and I’m sure she’d create art intended to subvert that value.
4. José Lerma
Being a stable artist at Andrea Rosen is a pretty big deal, and yet Lerma’s never received the kind of museum attention he deserves. Lerma caught the eye of the New York Times‘s Holland Cotter back in 2003 for his tortured figurative paintings and has kept working figuratively since. He’s currently moved on to rugs—a body of work whose sheer size makes it perfect for the New Museum.
5. A.L. Steiner
A member of the all-girl electro-pop band Chicks on Speed, A.L. Steiner roasts queer-shtick posturing and celebrates love between women. Unless we consider the alcove space in the stairwell at The New Museum a solo show venue, Steiner’s still in need of a show there.
6. Lisa Hein and Robert Seng
Once described to me as “the collaborative team that never disappoints,” Lisa Hein and Robert Seng thoroughly live up to their reputation. The wonders this duo might bring to the museum include: a giant flag-like brazier that graces the top of a building in Las Vegas; a gallery installation that is not only divided but functions like a brain; and a storefront lighting animation lit with neon and icicle lights. I expect they might also be able to do something about that wretched new rose sculpture on top of the building. Hein and Seng—the New Museum needs you.
7. Marcin Ramocki
Marcin Ramocki produced 8-Bit with Justin Strawhand, a documentary examining the influence of video games on contemporary culture and art making. That alone is worth a solo screening, but then add to this Brooklyn DIY, a documentary on the Williamsburg art scene, a robust body of web art, and VertexList, the most important exhibition space for New Media art until the venue closed in 2008. This work deserves attention, and The New Museum would do well to highlight it.
8. Inka Essenhigh
Picked up in a short-lived wave of popularity generated by Arturo Herrera‘s fluid lines influenced by classic cartoons, Essenhigh’s moment in the spotlight (circa 2000) was brief. But she’s been producing great paintings for 15 years. The New Museum would do well to reflect on a few of her career highlights.
9. Rico Gatson
Described by New York Times critic Holland Cotter as “forceful” history telling, Rico Gatson’s videos and paintings ruminate on minimalism, racism and film history while telling powerful stories. A 2005 Greater New York alumn, Gatson should not only be included in more institutional group shows, but be considered for a solo show at The New Museum. He’s got an A game to bring.
10. Ele D’Artagnan (1911-1987)
Ele D’Artagnan’s loud and colorful figurative drawings are strange in the best of ways. A former actor, his subjects have included penises ejaculating tiny men, a village that looks like a patchwork quilt, and a flower child in a blooming garden. MoMA has acquired a few pieces, but the work is well suited to the New Museum crowd as well. It’s strange, inventive, and a pleasure to look at.