1. A HELL OF A TOWN Despite all that
has happened and may lie ahead, New York, New York
remains an amazing, combative, nurturing place, especially
for art. Globalization and high rents notwithstanding,
it still attracts untold numbers of artists and art-fixated
nonartists; teems with galleries, alternative spaces
and great museums; has the public transportation system
to tie it all together and is among the best anti-aging
agents on earth.
2. SWEPT AWAY Among the museum exhibitions
whose visual inundations left one feeling shaken and
recharged were the Met's extraordinary assembly of
Renaissance tapestries; the Sackler's revelatory show
of Chola bronzes in Washington; and the Pompidou's
out-size Surrealist survey in Paris, where the paintings
3. MOST GRATIFYING DARK-ROOM EXPERIENCES
Could we have watched more video this year? From Documenta
(Steve McQueen) to the Whitney Biennial (Omar Fast)
to art fairs, video ruled, stultified and exhilarated.
Some of the best in New York galleries: Brice Dellsperger
at Team, Eija-Liisa Ahtila at Gasser & Grunnert;
Kutlug Ataman at Lehmann Maupin (twice); Payne and
Ralph at Gavin Brown and Annika Larson at Andrea Rosen.
Last but not least, the New York premiere at the Ziegfeld
of Matthew Barney's "Cremaster 3," the overlong
but still amazing final installment of his five-film
epic. With the wise elimination of spoken dialogue
and Jonathan Bepler's extraordinary score, "3"
is either a late masterpiece of silent film or the
most ambitious music video yet made.
4. LEAST GRATIFYING DARK-ROOM EXPERIENCE
The Guggenheim Museum's rotunda, which was painted
black on the occasion of the "Brazil" exhibition
and, because of budget problems that extended the
show by four months, remained black longer than the
average arctic winter.
5. MOST GRATIFYING NEWS STORY The Guggenheim's
problems culminated this fall when the museum's leading
trustee, Peter B. Lewis, awakening after nine years
to the responsibilities of trusteeship, informed the
museum's director, Thomas Krens, that he would have
to shape up fiscally or heads would roll.
6. BEST DEVIATION FROM THE WHITE-BOX
GALLERY The scruff-of-the-neck impresario Kenny Schachter
found a home for his peripatetic Rove exhibitions
in a tiny building on a gangs-of-New-York alley in
the West Village and let the sculptor-architect Vito
Acconci design it. The angled steel-mesh walls and
foldout shelves have a boutique, space-capsule, curiosity-cabinet-cage
effect that both welcomes and challenges art.
7. BEST VIOLATION OF THE WHITE BOX Extreme-performance
veteran Marina Abramovic's 12-day public fast, conducted
with ritualistic fastidiousness on three cantilevered
platforms (one of them plumbed), riveted crowds that
were an essential part of the experience for viewer
and artist alike.
8. BEST LATE ARRIVALS The New York gallery
debuts of 66-year-old Rosie Lee Tompkins's fabulously
pictorial quilts at Peter Blum and 52-year-old Roger
Ballen's searing photographs of people living on the
margins of South African society at Gagosian uptown.
9. BEST INTERACTIVE PAINTING SHOW Rudolf
Stingel's exuberant silver-foil-on-foam-board works,
which the artist cut from silver walls inflicted with
sgrafitto by visitors to an earlier show in Italy.
At the Paula Cooper Gallery in Chelsea, Mr. Stingel
provided more fresh foil surfaces for New Yorkers
to mar to their hearts' content — or more accurately
until he decided that he had enough to work with and
do-not-touch signs went up.
10. GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN The art dealers
Holly Solomon, Allan Frumkin and Giovanni Intra; the
artists Michel Majerus, Frank Moore, Larry Rivers,
Anne Poor, Andrew Forge, Matta, Niki de Saint Phalle
and Patterson Ewen; the curators Carole Kismaric,
Catherine Voorsanger and Elka Spoerri; the patrons
Vera List and Phyllis Wattis; the architect Samuel
Mockbee; the critic Emily Genauer; the museum director
J. Carter Brown; the art-book publisher Paul Gottlieb.