The 25 Works of Art That Define the Contemporary Age
July 20, 2019 11:13 AM   Subscribe

Hmm can someone run down the list and share in a comment? Sneaky NYT has decided to stop tolerating the incognito/private window trick.
posted by notyou at 12:38 PM on July 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

  1. Sturtevant, “Warhol Flowers,” 1964-71
  2. Marcel Broodthaers, “Musée d’Art Moderne, Département des Aigles,” 1968-72
  3. Hans Haacke, “MoMA Poll,” 1970
  4. Philip Guston, “Untitled (Poor Richard),” 1971
  5. Judy Chicago, Miriam Schapiro and the CalArts Feminist Art Program, “Womanhouse,” 1972
  6. Lynda Benglis, Artforum advertisement, 1974
  7. Gordon Matta-Clark, “Splitting,” 1974
  8. Jenny Holzer, “Truisms,” 1977-79
  9. Dara Birnbaum, “Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman,” 1978-79
  10. David Hammons, “Bliz-aard Ball Sale,” 1983; “How Ya Like Me Now?,” 1988
  11. Barbara Kruger, “Untitled (When I Hear the Word Culture, I Take Out My Checkbook),” 1985; “Untitled (I Shop Therefore I Am),” 1987
  12. Nan Goldin, “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency,” 1985-86
  13. Cady Noland, “Oozewald,” 1989; “The Big Slide,” 1989
  14. Jeff Koons, “Ilona on Top (Rosa Background),” 1990
  15. Mike Kelley, “The Arenas,” 1990
  16. Felix Gonzalez-Torres, “Untitled" (Portrait of Ross in L.A.), 1991
  17. Catherine Opie, “Self-Portrait/Cutting,” 1993
  18. Lutz Bacher, “Closed Circuit,” 1997-2000
  19. Michael Asher, “Michael Asher,” Santa Monica Museum of Art, 2008
  20. A.K. Burns and A.L. Steiner, “Community Action Center,” 2010
  21. Danh Vo, “We the People,” 2010-14
  22. Kara Walker, “A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby,” 2014
  23. Heji Shin, “Baby” (series), 2016
  24. Cameron Rowland, “New York State Unified Court System,” 2016
  25. Arthur Jafa, “Love Is the Message, the Message Is Death,” 2016
posted by jeremias at 1:09 PM on July 20, 2019 [10 favorites]

No “Dogs Playing Poker”?
posted by armoir from antproof case at 1:53 PM on July 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

It's fascinating to me that the list omits several of the more familiar modern artists - there's no Banksy, no Marina Abramovic - who may have had less influential work, but whose work stands out to me as the art most associated with modern art in the eyes of the public. I wonder if they came up in the discussion the curators of this list had.
posted by LSK at 2:06 PM on July 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

*looks at list, does not see Eva Hesse*
Just do not talk to me. Just don't.
posted by theartandsound at 2:11 PM on July 20, 2019

26. Barnes and Barnes, “Fish Heads.”
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 2:18 PM on July 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

It's a weird list. I mean any list like this has to be weird, so here we are, but even given that it's a weird list. I'm super surprised not to see 艾未未 Ai Weiwei. It feels very New-Yorky to me too, which is sort of unavoidable given the venue and the art genre. Given that it's also surprising not to see Mapplethorpe. They discuss that with an unsatisfying comment about photography. Me I think his work hasn't aged well, and I say that as someone who loves his work and is incredibly grateful for the cultural role it played.

Lists like this are meaningless.
posted by Nelson at 2:40 PM on July 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

It might be meaningless as an "essential 25" and it's easy to think of artists who were omitted, but this is an exciting bunch of artwork and there's a lot here I wasn't familiar with. That's more useful to me than a list of 25 obvious picks, so I consider this a pretty good curation. I'd love to go to an exhibition with all of these on display.
posted by painquale at 2:57 PM on July 20, 2019 [5 favorites]

21. Danh Vo, “We the People,” 2010-14

I had never heard of this, and it is BRILLIANT.

“We the People,” a full-size copper replica of the Statue of Liberty, may be his most ambitious work. Fabricated in Shanghai, the colossal figure exists in roughly 250 pieces, dispersed throughout public and private collections around the world. It will never be assembled or exhibited as a whole. In its fragmented state, Vo’s statue alludes to the hypocrisy and contradictions of Western foreign policy.

“Keep, ancient lands, our storied pomp!”
posted by chavenet at 3:04 PM on July 20, 2019 [12 favorites]

Metafilter: Lists like this are meaningless.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 4:07 PM on July 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

27. Scarlatti, 555 Harpsichord Sonatas (played simultaneously) 1685-1757, 2019.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 4:08 PM on July 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

(Also I'm really thrilled that Kruger made it, as I have used that image to punctuate all sorts of corporate appropriation of the language of human connection)
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 4:09 PM on July 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Huh, the “contemporary age” is almost exclusively viewed through an American, East Coast lens? Kinda weird (to me, at least) how non-international the list is.
posted by saucysault at 4:26 PM on July 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

Lists like this are meaningless.


Yet it is more than a list, it's a conversation with some exceptionally prominent artists and critics, including Martha Rosler and Rirkrit Tiravanija.

Perhaps one can find "meaning" there?
posted by Ahmad Khani at 4:31 PM on July 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

I always rewrite "best" as "some very good" in my head for list propositions like this, takes a lot of the twitch out of my knee and I don't feel compelled to worry about what's not on there and can just enjoying seeing and learning about what it is.

I'm about halfway through and am enjoying both the selections and, as Ahmad Khani notes, the conversation around the selections (and omissions). Having been pretty siloed in my late-start art reading the last couple years it's always nice to get a broader view of this stuff than just the stuff orbiting my fixation on geometric stuff and the minimal & conceptual movements of the 60s and 70s. (Of which though I'm there with theartandsound in having quietly wished to see Eva Hesse get a nod, and maybe ol' Sol himself.)
posted by cortex at 4:39 PM on July 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

Was very happy to see Gonzalez-Torres on the list. He had a similar installation at the Art Institute of Chicago way back when I was lucky to chaperone my daughter’s middle school art class field trip. We had a docent guiding us around, and it was interesting watching the kids trying to wrap their heads around the intent of the piece. Fun times. Tasty candies, too.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:37 PM on July 20, 2019

Oh Jesus.

Side 2 of Exile on Main Street
Burning Man 1992-2002
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 5:59 PM on July 20, 2019

it is more than a list, it's a conversation
Yes, exactly. The "why wasn't x included?" response is a way of saying "I'm more interested in feeling validated for knowing what I already know than I am in learning something new." It's not a good look.
posted by neroli at 6:07 PM on July 20, 2019 [4 favorites]

I dislike these 'defining' and 'best of' lists, etc. Coming from the US, they too frequently centre US experiences via the artist and/or the art's context.

I like these lists. Beside the fact that their selectors have a limited perspective, the good ones are mostly bound to introduce me to a few creators and objects and places I didn't know about.

So, if ya'll could just rename all 'best of' lists as 'Some creators and objects for Thella to potentially check out', I would be satisfied.
posted by Thella at 6:13 PM on July 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

There is meaning in these lists when picked by artists and curators highlighting influences. Perhaps the public would select from Banksy, or Abramovic, Wei Wei or Hurst, but only because they speak a particular language that appeals to them. To appeal to someone engaged in the same language is not always the same thing.
posted by bigZLiLk at 11:15 PM on July 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

The most interesting thing about this, is a major photo conceptualist, almost apologizing for photo conceptualism, discussing how it railroaded photography from the discourse. Rosler is brave for saying that, in an industry where her rep is complex, as both a theorist and as a practitioner. I also think that Cady Noland's legacy might be lawsuits, and one of the better critiques of the instutional gallery system, but that's not quite in the work, it;s been going on for years
posted by PinkMoose at 12:33 AM on July 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

It’s important to emphasize that no consensus emerged from the meeting. Rather, this list of works is merely what has been culled from the conversation, each chosen because it appeared on a panelist’s original submission of 10 (in two instances, two different works by the same artist were nominated, which were considered jointly). The below is not definitive, nor is it comprehensive. Had this meeting happened on a different day, with a different group, the results would have been different. Some pieces were debated heavily; others were fleetingly passed over, as if the group intuitively understood why they had been brought up; a few were spoken of with appreciation and wonder. What came out of the conversation was more of a sensibility than a declaration.

Thanks for the post, I hadn’t heard of/seen many of these.
posted by ellieBOA at 4:55 AM on July 21, 2019

As someone more interested in feeling validated for knowing what I already know than I am in learning something new, I mostly just flipped through to see if they had included this:

Ai Wei Wei's Bowls of Pearls
posted by M-x shell at 7:03 AM on July 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Some of these I knew, some of these I didn't - which I think is the perfect standpoint for lists like these. I am very thrilled to see some seminal feminists artists listed - normally "feminist" work is relegated to it's own self-including category. Feminism doesn't exist in a vacuum, though.

The last one on the list, Love Is the Message, the Message Is Death, I hadn't seen and was an absolute gut punch. I can't believe I haven't seen it before, Ultralight Beam is one of my favorite songs of the decade.
posted by FirstMateKate at 7:08 AM on July 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

« Older Amber Ruffin and the Go Back to Your Country Girls   |   “I took a fish head out to see a movie…” Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments