You Had Me At Hello: 150 Contemporary Artworks That Altered My Consciousness - Part 3

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

Bruce Nauman, Walking in an Exggerated Manner Around the Perimeter of a Square, 1967-68 (video)

This work made me believe in conceptual art. It still gnaws at me.
Courtesy of the Artist

Bruce Nauman, Green Light Corridor, 1970

Courtesy of Guggenheim

Bruce Nauman, Mapping the Studio I (Fat Chance John Cage), 2001 (Video)

Courtesy of the Artist

Shirin Neshat, Turbulent, 2000 (video)

Courtesy of Gladstone Gallery

Cady Noland, Installation at Paula Cooper Gallery, 1994

One of the first NYC gallery shows that I ever saw.
Courtesy of the Artist

John O’Reilly, As an Apollo, 1981

Underrated is a word that I don’t throw around lightly. In O’Reilly’s case it is an understatement. Now in his 90s, he is a magician and one of the most important artists working today. I first saw this work at Howard Yezerski Gallery in Boston in the mid-1990s and it changed me. Get on board art world.
Courtesy of Howard Yezerski Gallery

Gabriel Orozco. Ping Pong Table, 1998

Courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery

Laura Owens, Untitled, 1997

Courtesy of Gavin Brown’s Enterprise

Roxy Paine, Control Room, 2013

Courtesy of Kavi Gupta

Cornelia Parker, Mass (Colder Darker Matter), 1997

Courtesy of the Artist

Paul Pfeiffer, Crucifixion (After Francis Bacon), 1999 (video)

The highlight of the first iteration of PS1’s Greater New York.
Courtesy of Paula Cooper Gallery

Sigmar Polke, Girlfriends, 1965/66

Courtey of Michael Werner

Rona Pondick, Fox, 1998-99

Courtesy of the Artist

Richard Prince, Untitled (cowboy), 1989

I generally get nervous when I hear the word “appropriation,” and a lot of work from the Pictures Generation leaves me cold, but this photograph is a masterpiece.
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

R.H. Quaytman, Distracting Distance, Chapter 16, 2010

Courtesy of Gladstone Gallery

Eileen Quinlan, The Hand of the Artist (young), 1991-2010

Courtesy of Miguel Abreu Gallery

Robert Rauschenberg, Erased de Kooning Drawing, 1953

Courtesy of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Charles Ray, Ink Line, 1987

This work blows my mind. So subtle, so resonant. In my top ten contemporary works. A client of mine was offered the piece in the late-80s, but he decided to pass. To this day, he is filled with regret.
Courtesy of Matthew Marks

Jason Rhoades, Untitled (From My Medinah: In Pursuit of My Ermitage), 2004

Such a loss. Genius.
Courtesy of Hauser Wirth

Gerhard Richter, Betty, 1988

Contemporary Mona Lisa.
Courtesy of the St. Louis Museum of Art

Pipilotti Rist, Ever is Over All, 1997 (video)

Courtesy of Luhring Augustine

Torbjorn Rodland, Apple, 2006

What does it take to make a memorable photograph in a day and age when we are constantly bombarded by images? It is a big trick and Rodland consistently rises to the challenge. Always beautiful, often times disturbing, his photographs have a nagging quality…they tug at something deep within me.
Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery

Julia Rommel, Pumpkin Chunkin (Hydraulics)

One of the great young thinkers about abstraction.
Courtesy of Overduin and Co.

Ugo Rondinone, Seven Magic Mountains, 2016

Courtesy of Gladstone Gallery

Ed Ruscha, Smash, 1963

Courtesy of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Robert Ryman, Bridge, 1980

For more than five decades, Ryman has been mining a small claim and consistently unearthing gold. In a sense, his practice operates at the outer reaches of the Greenbergian push towards formal purity that defined the discourse surrounding painting for much of the 20th-Century. Painting, of course, has exploded in countless directions since the 1980s, but Ryman continues to demonstrate that its most basic elements, when properly harnessed, can yield significant art.
Courtesy of Pace Gallery

Analia Saban, Draped Concrete (26.25 sq ft), 2016

She is a genius.
Courtesy of Spruth Magers

Allison Schulnik, Forest, 2010 (video)

Courtesy of the Artist

Dana Schutz, Presentation, 2005

I will never forget walking into the gallery at Greater New York that housed this painting. I was completely unprepared for it. Heroically scaled, it was the most impressive new painting I had seen in a long time. Schutz made people take painting seriously again. A new generation of painters owes her a lot for reviving the discourse.
Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art

Richard Serra, Torqued Ellipses, 1996

I have always been a huge fan of Serra’s work ever since first seeing House of Cards. Nothing could have prepared me for walking into the Dia’s 1997 exhibition of his Torqued Ellipses. To this date, it is one of the most memorable and overwhelming experiences I have had with artwork. I had never felt my body so engaged with space before…I became aware of every step.
Courtesy of Artist

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #96, 1981

Photographic masterpiece.
Courtesy of Metro Pictures

Lui Shtini, Skin VIII, 2016

Definitely one to watch. His 2013 debut at Kate Werble Gallery was a stunner. Four years later his practice has expanded beyond the “heads” he first become known for. Shtini is a master of surface.
Courtesy of Kate Werble Gallery

James Siena, Battery, 1997

Not the painting that first made me a Siena addict, but fortunately he only makes good paintings. My first encounter with Siena’s work came at the first Greater New York (also fell in love with Paul Pfeiffer’s work at that exhibition). It was a raucous, unwieldy show with a lot of great art. Siena stood out. I have been a fan ever since.
Courtesy of Pace Gallery

Amy Sillman, Me & Ugly Mountain, 2003

Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins

Lorna Simpson, Five Day Forecast, 1991

Courtesy of the Tate

Taryn Simon, A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I – XVIII, 2008-2011

Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art

Emily Mae Smith, Scream, 2015

Something new is happening with painting and Smith is at the forefront.
Courtesy of Laurel Gitlen

Frank Stella, The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, 1959

Courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art

Rudolf Stingel, Installation at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 2007

Courtesy of Gagosian

Jessica Stockholder, Peer Out to See, 2010

Stockholder is a key figure in the blurring of the lines between traditional media that has occurred over the past two decades.
Courtesy of the Artist

Do ho Suh, Reflection, 2004

Courtesy Lehman Maupin

Ricky Swallow, Magnifying Glass with Rope No.4, 2015

Courtesy David Kordansky Gallery

Henry Taylor, The Times Thay Ain’t A Changing, Fast Enough, 2017

Courtesy of Blum & Poe

Wolfgang Tillmans, Still-Life, New York, 2001

Courtesy of David Zwirner

James Turrell, Dhatu, 2009

Mind altering.
Courtesy of Pace Gallery

Richard Tuttle, Drift III, 1965

The art world was a much simpler place when I entered it professionally in the mid-1990s. Once a month, I would drive from Boston to New York City – often back and forth in a day - park at a small lot on the corner of Greene and Houston, and dive into the canyons of Soho to look at art. This is where my visual education happened. Back then you could spend the better part of an afternoon and feel as if you had seen it all. Cooper, Boone, Pace and Sperone Westwater were some of the bigger galleries. Castelli was still perched in his space on West Broadway and would give me a smile and head nod when I walked in the door (he was like a god to me). Gagosian, Zwirner, Rosen, Luhring Augustine and others were on the rise. Visiting galleries in those days was an intimate experience. Most times, I had a show entirely to myself. I can still hear the creaking of the old floor boards as I would enter those spaces and I remember having to negotiate the supporting columns in order to get the ideal sightline on a given work. All of that began to change quickly once Gagosian dropped his first white cube in the thick of it. (As I write this I realize that I am of the age where I am starting to tell “remember when” stories…oh shit…tick tock.)

What does all of this have to do with Richard Tuttle? The work illustrated here is not the Tuttle that got to me. That experience happened at a 1995 solo at Sperone Westwater in Soho of which I cannot find an image. Walking into the gallery that day is one of the most pivotal encounters with art that I have ever had….I had no idea who Richard Tuttle was up to that point. The exhibition consisted of early works by Tuttle. Simple materials, simple gestures, an almost carless installation. I was dumbfounded. It is easy to come across work that confuses you in a museum and, because It has been “vetted,” except it as art. This was different. I was on my own and feeling confused. Was this really art? After a time, I felt a small twinge in my gut – a feeling that I have come to trust implicitly over the years - that said it was. That realization changed me, it altered how I looked at the world, and it set the table for countless experiences with challenging works that would follow. Thank you Richard.
Courtesy of The Whitney Museum of American Art

Cy Twombly, Triumph of Galatea, 1961

Courtesy of Gagosian

Kara Walker, Sugar Sphynx, 2014

Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins

Jeff Wall, A Sudden Gust of Wind (After Hokusai), 1993

Courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery

Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962

Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art

Mary Weatherford, Coney Island II, 2012

Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery

Rachel Whiteread, Untitled (Library), 1999

Courtesy of Luhring Augustine

Hannah Wilke, Sweet Sixteen, 1977

Courtesy of the Artist

Terry Winters, Velocity and Amplitude, 1996

His 1996 solo at Matthew Marks is one of the best painting shows I have ever seen.
Courtesy of Matthew Marks

Jonas Wood, Momo with Stuffed Animals, 2007

Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery

Francesca Woodman, Self-Portrait talking to Vince, 1975-78

Courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery

Christopher Wool, Apocalypse Now, 1988

Courtesy of Luhring Augustine