The Manhattan Art Review's Best & Worst Art Shows of 2023

(These lists are chronological, not ranked)

- Mark van Yetter - The Politics of Charm - Bridget Donahue
- Larry Poons - The Outerlands - Yares Art
- Matt Mullican - Sunday, August 9, 1908 - Peter Freeman
- Rosalyn Drexler - Happy Dance - Garth Greenan
- Curtis Cuffie - Galerie Buchholz
- Rafael Delacruz - Healing Finger Clean Drawings - Mitchell-Innes & Nash
- Pati Hill - My old fur coat doesn't know me - Printed Matter
- Susan Te Kahurangi King, Philip Emde - Playdate - Ruttkowski;68
- Shuvinai Ashoona - Fort Gansevoort
- Eyrie Alzate - Forces - Kayemes

- Rute Merk - XP - Tara Downs
- Deanna Havas - Message From the Source - Tara Downs
- Aria Dean - Figuer Sucia - Greene Naftali
- Matthew Barney - Secondary - Matthew Barney Studio
- Edmund de Waal - this must be the place - Gagosian
- Helen Marten - Evidence of Theater - Greene Naftali
- Pipilotti Rist - Prickling Goosebumps & a Humming Horizon - Hauser & Wirth & Luhring Augustine

Not much to say this year, although you could call this my most optimistic year-end list in the sense that I didn't need to put any obvious choices in my top shows, like Duchamp and Picabia or some more Picasso. Still, it's pretty feeble optimism if the year stands out for having a fair amount of good shows not only by famous old/deceased artists but by lesser-known old/deceased artists. My forecast for art is no rosier than it has been, and it's only going to get worse before it gets better. If, for instance, the art market takes a major hit and the people in the art world who are more interested in money than art move on to other things, that would be a disaster that could potentially improve things in the long run. This is a trite and oversimplified observation, but I think one of the central dysfunctions of contemporary art is that artists now tend to make work with the market in mind rather than doing what they want in the discrete context of themselves and their peers. That's not to say that thinking for yourself and your buyer at the same time is impossible (that's what they did in the Renaissance), and all artistic progress has been bankrolled by someone with money to spare, so I'm not pretending that art can somehow decouple itself from money and flourish in a condition of moral purity. The deeper issue of the present is that even those with independent means tend to capitulate to money instead of using their privilege to pursue or support something more radical. But that makes sense because American society has forfeited any real conception of cultural value not derived from market value. Thus most of the artists on my best-of list are at least semi-outsider weirdos, if not full-blown outsider artists, although some are card-carrying members of the outside. The inside, it seems, has almost nothing left to offer to anyone concerned with authenticity. I think my worst-of speaks for itself, but it does showcase my bias against immersive multimedia and technology-forward art, which is, of course, an objectively correct bias.