Art: Best of 2009

12/23/2009 3:20 AM |

Francis Bacon Retrospective at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
May 20 to August 16
“If you’ve seen one Francis Bacon painting you’ve seen them all.” The artist’s summer retrospective at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, refutes that common criticism (one I had been known to espouse from time to time). To be fair, Bacon’s interest in psychologically disturbed, godless spaces is acutely consistent, but only seeing the collection as a whole reveals a focused and deeply powerful body of work. The exhibition also reminded me that I wasn’t the first person to respond this way: those weird anguished faces are now a sci-fi/horror movie staple.

Lisa Kirk’s House of Cards at Invisible Exports
February 20 to March 29
Want to buy a timeshare shack? Lisa Kirk’s real estate agents (two hired actors, one of whom also happens to be an art aficionado) will tell you it’s a luxury condo, even as you step around a metal barrel. The giant bucket is a full kitchen’s open range stove and the conceptual bath suite offers only a tube for running water and a bucket. Astonishingly, the sales team does a brilliant job of convincing visitors they might want to pony up for a “gated-community” experience in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. I almost bought a timeshare myself when I learned a family purchased the week of Halloween for a kids’ party.

Xylor Jane’s N.D.E. at Canada
February 26th to March 29th
Xylor Jane’s virtuoso freehand grid paintings were the talk of the town this February for good reason. They are gorgeous. Subtle shifts in color and pattern undulate similarly to paintings by op artists Bridget Riley and Richard Allen. Some patterns look as though they were based on early ASCII art, while others resemble the complex patterning seen in many design studios. New York Times critic Roberta Smith and her husband Jerry Saltz of New York magazine both sung the praises of this show, a rare occurrence that’s a testament to its strength.

Justin Lieberman’s The Corrector’s Custom Pre-Fab House at Marc Jancou Gallery
January 15 to February 21
A giant igloo skeleton supporting an array of yard sale objects is also the unexpected home for a database indexing its contents. Inside Justin Lieberman’s sculpture rests an online application that allows visitors not only to peruse the igloo’s collection but view auxiliary materials. It’s impossible to view it all of course, but the whole scenario set up by The Corrector’s Custom Pre-Fab House makes you want to do just that.

Jon Rafman’s website, Unrepresented
Undoubtedly the strongest net artist without representation today, Jon Rafman describes himself as a storyteller. It’s an apt description, though I’d add that he’s a bit of a digital wanderer as well. The countless hours spent in Google Street View collecting screenshots are a testament to this, as is his Second Life Tour, given by none other than the Kool-Aid Man. Undoubtedly my favorite, zany aspect of this video is the amount of time Kool-Aid Man spends underwater without losing any of his ice cubes or colored drink.

Shana Moulton’s The Undiscovered Antique, Art in General
October 29 to January 9 2010
Antiques Roadshow inspires more than one kind of a treasure hunt. The PBS television series also prompted video artist Shana Moulton’s alter ego “Cynthia” to embark on a journey of self-fulfillment. After receiving a low appraisal value for a crappy foot massager, she tours it across the American Southwest and various home interiors. Moulton’s humorous narrative and accompanying installation shone a bright light on the end of 2009.