Stephen Knudsen is an artist and professor of painting at Savannah College of Art and Design. He is the senior editor of ARTPULSE Magazine, a contributing writer to the Huffington Post, NY Arts Magazine, and Hyperallergic. He is the senior editor of the anthology the Art of Critique, forthcoming in 2014. Here are his selections from 2013:
1. Eija-Liisa Ahtila: Olentoja (Creatures) at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College, MA
Finnish artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila has been a figure in the vanguard movement re-imagining film art into multiple screen pieces with cinematic production values. This exhibition of her key works includes House (2002), one of the best pieces in the movement. This work demonstrates that beauty and transcendence does not have to be put into the satirical air quotes of postmodernism to be critically and aesthetically relevant.
2. Nicole Eisenman’s work in the Carnegie International Exhibition, Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh
The highlight of this well- conceived iteration of the Carnegie International is Nicole Eisenman’s survey of work up to 2011. She was the winner of this year’s Carnegie Prize. Included works like The Sunday Night Dinner have placed Eisenman as one of the most important 21st century painter who cast back to the roots of expressionism without evoking the weaknesses of 1980’s Neo-expressionism.
3. Laura McPhee: River of No Return at Kemper Contemporary Museum of ART, Kansas City
Laura McPhee is a final holdout in the line of great large format photographers using the 8 by 10 camera and pulling prints with traditional chromogenic chemistry. The show’s twenty-three mural sized ( 6 by 8 feet)chromogenic prints were photographed over several years in the ranch land and wilderness of central Idaho. An exceptional inclusion, Mattie with a Northern Red-Shafted Flicker, is a fresh and relevant iconic image that is resolute and easy to love, even without backstory.
4. The Gallery Booth for La Central Gallery, Bogota, Columbia at Miami Beach Art Basel, Miami
The La Central gallery dedicated all of its Art Basel space to Nicolas Consuegra’s 15 channel video installation that to my eyes was the best extended cinema piece in Art Basel ( and the satellite fairs) this year. The Water that you Touch is the Last of What has Passed and the First of that Which Comes chronicled the Magdalena river as it runs through a depressed small town outside of Bogotá. Presented as a moving ring, the river becomes a sensual emblem of rushing infinitudes and potential for a town that is in socioeconomic stagnation . See it here: http://vimeo.com/81408376
5. Benjamin Degen’s Shadow Ripple Reflection at Susan Inglett Gallery, New York
With Shadow ripple reflection , an uplifting exhibition of eight new paintings, Benjamin Degen showed us that he is better than ever. These works skirt dangerously close to cliché: sunshine, youthful figures lounging, reading, swimming, and setting out, and returning. But they take positive hold on the memory because they seem so unfamiliar in fanatical web-like detail in places that contrast with the simpler handling of the flesh. In the most complex passages it is as if the pigment spun from spinnerets of a spider. The work may nod toward Matisse, Bonnard, Seurat, Renoir, and Gauguin, but it is absolutely recognizable only as itself.
See top 5’s from other NY Arts contributors here.