1. Tino Sehgal
I often see shows I don’t like, but this was the only show I’ve ever seen that didn’t like me. Last winter at Marian Goodman, Tino Sehgal had performers stand in the rear room of this gallery and discuss art and Western thought. Viewers were acknowledged as they entered and were occasionally included in conversations. After I answered one of the performers, he basically upbraided me. I was horrified, mortified, and thrilled.
2. Landscapes Clear and Radiant: The Art of Wang Hui (1632–1717)
The most mind-blowing work I saw all year was at the Met, a long stretch of a 740-foot scroll by the Chinese master Wang Hui depicting an emperor’s 1,700-mile journey made in 1698. It walks through mountains, lakes, palaces, and everyday scenes—people weaving, selling rice, walking dogs—plus the emperor’s arrival, deploying landscapes and figures in myriad imaginative spatial perspectives and atmospherics. It’s a machine of sheer pleasure.
3. Pipilotti Rist
Rist’s enveloping MoMA video was the trippiest, most visually alluring installation seen in New York since Rudolf Stingel’s aluminum-foil room at the Whitney last season. Vibrant images of flowers, blood, earthworms, and nudes covered the walls. Rist mixed the essences of modernism, Matisse’s colors, and Picasso’s forms with her own sensuous sensibility.
4. Cindy Sherman
With no pictures of spring chickens in sight and crow’s-feet the order of the day, the perennially shape-shifting avenging angel of photography donned the psyches of aging women torn by conflicting social proscriptions and inner yearnings. For an artist who has set up such narrow parameters, it’s amazing Sherman isn’t making boring, narcissistic pictures.
5. Klara Liden
For this solo show at Reena Spaulings, Liden built a wall containing a narrow doorway inside the gallery. That portal led to a dark living room, where, if you listened, you’d hear pecking, scratching, and cooing from above. It turned out the artist had left the gallery windows open and pigeons were roosting atop the enclosed living room. It was creepy and mysterious—as scintillating as an Edgar Allan Poe novel.