The Manhattan Art Review's Best & Worst Art Shows of 2022
1. James Joyce - Ulysses - Amazon
- Johann Sebastian Bach - St. Matthew Passion - YouTube
- Richard Cook & Brian Morton - The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, 5th Edition - Amazon
- Phil Schaap - Bird Flight - philschappjazz.com
- Robert Lebel - Marcel Duchamp - Amazon
- Cubism and the Trompe L'Oeil Tradition - The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Gianna Surangkanjanajai, Bill Bollinger, Marie Angeletti, Marc Kokopelli, Olga Balema, Eli Coplan - Manhattan - Claude Balls Int
- Richard Hamilton - A little bit of Roy Lichtenstein for... - Galerie Buchholz
- Sam Pulitzer - If the muck of ages and the wealth of nations were identical, would there be any need for a weekend? - 15 Orient
- Bill Jensen - Stillness/Flowing - Cheim & Read
I can barely remember what I saw this year in comparison to the last. As far as I can recall, only the five exhibitions above managed to provide the spark that distinguishes the actually inspiring from the merely good, i.e. appreciated but not quite revelatory or important. Importance is a subjective judgment, of course, but if I perceived a continual horizon of possibility in the best contemporary art I saw last year, 2022 was more intermittent. However, nine of my top shows in 2021 were by established/late career/deceased/etc. artists. Only two were by people who have not yet aged out of the present zeitgeist, and this list also has two shows by the "not yet old." So really, all I missed were some more predictably excellent shows by venerable artists which, in spite of their quality, don't often reflect on the present moment in the way that we used to expect from great art. Even if their work is very good and newly made, an artist in their 70s tends to embody the ideas and techniques that were in fashion in their 20s and 30s. That's a fact of nature, not a criticism, but it does little to suggest an antidote to our prevailing anomie that seems to have sucked the arts dry. I tend to be more invested in the art of past than the present, what with the anomie and all, so to reflect what I actually liked this year (and pad my list out to a top ten) I had to open it up to books and music. Anyway, does anyone really like going to galleries more than reading or listening to music? Even then, the first five items here are just things I've been into in since the end of the summer; I don't remember being as interested in anything in the first two thirds of the year. As I've been trying to make clear, I don't have a very good memory. Except where noted the list is in no particular order.
I saw plenty of bad art this year but none that managed to distinguish itself by that metric.