Best Art Exhibitions of 2021 (The New York Times)
Ambitious museum shows in Tulsa, Richmond, and Louisville left an imprint. Jasper Johns, Maya Lin and Latino artists shone. And the high quality of gallery shows of women was dizzying and gratifying.
Most Memorable Art and Image-Makers of 2021
The year 2021 was about recovery — slow, partial, tentative, ongoing — from lockdown. Over the summer, museums and galleries rebooted, but with masking and distancing in place. After a year of social isolation, a market trend in easy-to-like figure painting had natural appeal, with portrait shows everywhere. (New York had Medicis and Alice Neel; Hans Holbein and the Obamas currently hold court in Los Angeles) But for me, many of the most memorable events were either outside bicoastal centers or in unusual locations and forms within them.
This was the year when public awareness of ecocide reached at least an orange alert level. Direct response from museums and galleries remained muted, with notable exceptions being “Diane Burko: Seeing Climate Change,” a solo exhibition of paintings at the Katzen Arts Center of American University in Washington (through Dec. 12); and a survey of early work by the ecofeminist artist Betsy Damon at La MaMa Galleria in Manhattan. In New York, the major statement on the theme of present and future catastrophe took place, appropriately, outdoors, in Madison Square Park, where Maya Lin’s “Ghost Forest,” a grove of dead and salvaged Atlantic white cedars, all victims of environmental damage, was installed last Spring. Surrounded by the park’s lush greenery the lifeless trees made for a starkly majestic cautionary tableau, an arboreal “Burghers of Calais.” (And when they finally came down, they were given new life by teenagers learning to build boats.)
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