Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Kenneth Baker's top 10 for '07
1. "A Rose Has No Teeth: Bruce Nauman in the 1960s": The Berkeley Art Museum survey traced the Bay Area creative roots of one of the late 20th century's most influential American artists.
2. "Brice Marden: A Retrospective of Paintings and Drawings": A perfect marriage of art and venue - the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art - this show let visitors walk within the sensibility of a major contemporary abstract painter.
3. "In the American West: Photographs by Richard Avedon": Avedon's 1986 album of portraits from chance encounters with ordinary folks in the West attained discomfiting intensity, presented in just the way the late photographer intended by Stanford's Cantor Center for Visual Arts.
4. "Hiroshi Sugimoto": The M.H. de Young Memorial Museum wisely gave the Japanese photographer free rein to design his retrospective, which showed both what a great visual artist he is and how complex the hidden conceptual dimensions of his medium are.
5. "Martin Ramirez": The San Jose Museum of Art collaborated with the nearby Mexican Heritage Plaza La Galeria to study an illegal immigrant "outsider" artist who produced his unforgettable drawings while confined in California mental hospitals.
6. "Listening Post": Yerba Buena Center for the Arts brought to San Francisco for four months one of the San Jose Museum of Art's smartest acquisitions: an elaborate device built by Ben Rubin and Mark Hansen that spellbindingly harvests live Internet chat-room content, turning it into a social symphony of text and sound.
7. "Joseph Cornell: Navigating the Imagination": (Through Jan. 6.) Two key practices of 20th century art - collage and assemblage - culminated in the work of this reclusive New Yorker who would have delighted to see the space and care the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has lavished on his oeuvre.
8. "Diebenkorn in New Mexico": (Through Jan. 6.) Although smaller than the version staged by the Harwood Museum in Taos, which organized the show, the San Jose Museum of Art's survey of Richard Diebenkorn's early work still has something to surprise even those who know this Bay Area titan's art well.
9. "Jeff Wall": (Through Jan. 27.) The work of Jeff Wall, a pioneer of staged photography, tends be large and scarce, so it is often seen piecemeal. His San Francisco Museum of Modern Art retrospective shows why he remains a controversial figure.
10. "The Sculpture of Louise Nevelson: Constructing a Legend": (Through Jan. 13.) Nevelson staked everything on her own artistic confidence and won, at a time when women still faced extraordinary struggles for art-world recognition. The M.H. de Young Memorial Museum survey of her work displays its full power.
For the rest of the story, including Baker's High, Low, Most Improved, and Most Valuable Player awards, go here.
Image at top is "Listening Post" (#6) by Fenchurch! on Flickr
Posted by Anna L. Conti at 11:43 AM