You Had Me At Hello: 150 Contemporary Artworks That Altered My Consciousness - Part 1
I look at a lot of art. Some of it good, some of it bad. Every once in a while, I come across artwork that fundamentally changes me, even if I don’t understand it at the time. A friend of mine recently asked me which works had had the greatest impact on me over the years, so I compiled my thoughts. This is not a greatest hits list and many artists I love are not included in it. These are all works that have been, for whatever reason, seared into my brain. To be honest, there are a number of artists on this list whose overall practice I am not a particular fan of, yet, they got to me at least once. – Steven Zevitas, Publisher
Doug Aitken, Electric Earth, 1999 (video)
David Altmejd, Untitled, 2011
Diane Arbus, Identical Twins, 1967
Cory Arcangel, Super Mario Clouds, 2002 (video)
John Baldessari, A Two-Dimensional Surface Without Any Explanation is a Dead Experience, 1967
Matthew Barney, Cremaster Cycle, 1994-2002, (video)
I spent the day at the Guggenheim in 2003 and watched the entire cycle with a good friend. I am not going to lie…it felt like work. So much of it feels teasingly oblique rather than psychologically resonant, but it is undoubtedly a masterpiece.
Courtesy of Gladstone Gallery
Romare Bearden, The Block, 1971
Lynda Benglis, Quartered Meteor, 1969
Forrest Bess, Untitled, 1957
Lee Bontecou, Untitled, 1960
Louise Bourgeois, Untitled with Foot, 1989
My first exposure to Bourgeois’ work was at a 1994 exhibition at the Corcoran. I was lucky enough to walk through it with one of the curators, Terrie Sultan. I can still see the installation to this day. This work haunts me.
Courtesy of Cheim Read
Katherine Bradford, Pool Swimmers, Green, 2015
I have been a huge fan of Bradford’s work for years, and I am thrilled with the attention her work has been getting for the past few years. Apparently, she is completely incapable of making a bad painting. One gem after another.
Courtesy of Canada
Mark Bradford, Corner of Desire and Piety, 2008
Joe Bradley, Whitney Biennial, 2008
Chris Burden, Shoot, 1971 (video)
Vija Celmins, Ocean, 1975
Nicole Cherubini, Exhibition at Samson Projects, 2007
Christo and Jeanne-Claude, The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979-2005
Chuck Close, Self-Portrait, 1997
Robert Colescott, George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Text Book, 1975
Bruce Conner, A Movie, 1958 (Video)
Matt Connors, First Straight Third (red/blue), 2012
Between 2012 - 2013 there were a flood of gallery and museum exhibitions focused on paintings’ expanded definition and its intersection with other media. Painter Painter at the Walker Art Center was probably the best among them. I had already known Connors’ work for few a few years, but this painting, which was included in the Walker exhibition, stole the show.
Courtesy of CANADA
John Coplans, Self-Portrait (Back with Arms Above), 1984
Tacita Dean, Five Americans, 2010 (video)
Thomas Demand, Clearing, 2003
Rineke Dijkstra, Coney Island, N.Y., USA, June 20, 1993
John Dilg, Mother, 2015
My first encounter with Dilg’s work was when he appeared in an early issue of New American Paintings. I never forgot the work. Every once in a while I would come across one of his paintings in a gallery…I always knew it was his work, even from a distance. Dilg makes intimately scaled, quasi-mystical paintings that are ruminations on nature and how it impacts our consciousness. He has been an educator at the University of Iowa since the mid-1970s during which time he has influenced many artists. I suppose that every “non-major” city has its share of artists like Dilg – artists who have had a consistent practice for decades, but, due to their physical location, remain woefully under-recognized. Dilg is a special artist and an extraordinary person.
Courtesy of Taymour Grahne Gallery
Lucy Dodd, Open Plan, Installation at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 2016
Carroll Dunham, Ship, 1997-1999
Shannon Ebner, USA (2003), from Dead Democracy Letters (2002-06)
William Eggleston, Big Wheels, 1970
Nicole Eisenman, Another Green World, 2015
Klaus Kertess introduced me to Eisenman’s work at the time of the 2005 Whitney Biennial. I have followed her religiously ever since. I first saw this work at MOCA LA this past year. It is one of the best paintings I have seen in a long time. She is a genius.
Courtesy of Anton Kern Gallery
Olafur Eliasson, The Weather Project in the Turbine Hall, 2003
I flew to London for 72 hours just to see this work. It was worth the jet lag and then some. Awe inspiring. Sublime. Insert additional superlatives. How often do you get a crowd in the same room and know that everyone is sharing the same experience? It felt like what church should be.
Courtesy of Tate Modern
Franklin Evans, timecompressionmachine (Installation at MoMA PS1), 2010
Tony Feher, The Wart on the Bosom of Mother Nature, 2004
My first encounter with Feher’s work at D’Amelio Terras was mind altering. I spent an hour with the show…went to see other shows in Chelsea…and came back for another hour. What was happening to me? Feher was a master of redeeming materials that might seem to be aesthetically intractable. I looked at the world differently after that show.
Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins
Spencer Finch, West (Sunset in my Hotel Room, Monument Valley, January 26, 2007, 5:36-6:06 PM), 2007 (video)
Urs Fischer, Kir Royal, Installation at Kunsthaus Zurich, 2004
Dan Flavin, Untitled, 1996
Suzan Frecon, Composition in Four Colors 2, 2010
Katharina Fritsch, Rat King, 1993
Ellen Gallagher, DeLuxe, 2004
Robert Gober, Prison Window, 1992
Robert Gober, Untitled, 2003 – 2005
Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Untitled (Perfect Lovers), 1987-1990
Robert Grosvenor, Installation at Paula Cooper Gallery, 1995
Andreas Gursky, 99 Cent, 1999
Phillip Guston, Painting, Smoking, Eating, 1973
One of the paintings that made me believe in contemporary art. There is no way to overstate the influence that Guston has had on those painters who have followed him. He is the ghost in the machine of contemporary painting.
Courtesy of the Stedelijk Museum