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)
Bruce Nauman, Green Light Corridor, 1970
Bruce Nauman, Mapping the Studio I (Fat Chance John Cage), 2001 (Video)
Shirin Neshat, Turbulent, 2000 (video)
Cady Noland, Installation at Paula Cooper Gallery, 1994
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
Laura Owens, Untitled, 1997
Roxy Paine, Control Room, 2013
Cornelia Parker, Mass (Colder Darker Matter), 1997
Paul Pfeiffer, Crucifixion (After Francis Bacon), 1999 (video)
Sigmar Polke, Girlfriends, 1965/66
Rona Pondick, Fox, 1998-99
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
Eileen Quinlan, The Hand of the Artist (young), 1991-2010
Robert Rauschenberg, Erased de Kooning Drawing, 1953
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
Gerhard Richter, Betty, 1988
Pipilotti Rist, Ever is Over All, 1997 (video)
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)
Ugo Rondinone, Seven Magic Mountains, 2016
Ed Ruscha, Smash, 1963
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
Allison Schulnik, Forest, 2010 (video)
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
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
Lorna Simpson, Five Day Forecast, 1991
Taryn Simon, A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I – XVIII, 2008-2011
Emily Mae Smith, Scream, 2015
Frank Stella, The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, 1959
Rudolf Stingel, Installation at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 2007
Jessica Stockholder, Peer Out to See, 2010
Do ho Suh, Reflection, 2004
Ricky Swallow, Magnifying Glass with Rope No.4, 2015
Henry Taylor, The Times Thay Ain’t A Changing, Fast Enough, 2017
Wolfgang Tillmans, Still-Life, New York, 2001
James Turrell, Dhatu, 2009
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