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The 25 Works of Art That Define the Contemporary Age

The New York Times
T Magazine
American Art
the Jewish Museum
Museum of Modern Art
Pop Art
the Guerrilla Art Action Group
the Museum of Modern Art
Wallraf-Richartz Museum
Thessaly La Force
the Hans Haacke
Hauser & Wirth
Ant Farm
the Red Army Faction
the Hirshhorn Museum
the Artforum Committee of Public Decency
Cornell University
the Santa Monica Museum
the Blue Marble
The Whole Earth Catalog
the Whitney Independent Study Program
Wonder Woman
Otis Art Institute
Otis College of Art and Design
Judson Dance Theater
the Parsons School of Design
House & Garden
the Velvet Underground
the Aperture Foundation
White Columns Gallery
the Whitney Museum of American Art
Metro Pictures
the National Endowment for the Arts
the Institute of Contemporary Art
the University of Pennsylvania
the Supreme Court
The Abstract Expressionists
the Santa Monica Museum of Art
Pomona College
public.“Community Action Center
the Statue of Liberty
the Domino Sugar
the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Untitled Film Stills
Artists Space
The New York State Department
The New Yorker
Kanye West’s
Ultralight Beam
the White House
the African-American
Estate of Sturtevant
Galerie Thaddaeus
Electronic Arts Intermix
Studio Danh Vo
the Flower Archives
Gavin’s Brown Enterprise
the Estate of
the Museum of Modern Art Archives
Getty Images
Rena Bransten Gallery
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— David Breslin
Martha Rosler
Kelly Taxter
Rirkrit Tiravanija
Torey Thornton —
David Hammons
Dara Birnbaum
Felix Gonzalez-Torres
Danh Vo
Cady Noland
Kara Walker
Mike Kelley
Barbara Kruger
Arthur Jafa
Thessaly La ForceThis
Zoë Lescaze
Elaine Sturtevant
Richard Prince
Sherrie Levine
Edward Weston
Frank Stella
James Rosenquist
Roy Lichtenstein
Andy Warhol
Claes Oldenburg
Marcel Broodthaers
Département des Aigles
Hans Haacke
Édouard Manet
Marcel Broodthaers’s
Richard Nixon
Philip Guston
Henry Kissinger
Philip Guston’s
—Torey Thornton
Richard Serra
Carlota Schoolman
John F. Kennedy
Gerhard Richter’s
Jacqueline Humphries
Charline von Heyl
Amy Sillman
Laura Owens
Paula Harper
Judy Chicago
Miriam Schapiro
Lynda Benglis
John Coplans
Paula Cooper
Rosalind Krauss
Max Kozloff
Lawrence Alloway
Joseph Masheck
Annette Michelson —
Robert Rosenblum
Cindy Sherman
Lynda Benglis’s Artforum
Sherrie Levine’s
Walker Evans
Gordon Matta-Clark
Holly Solomon
Manfred Hecht
Robert Smithson
Walter De Maria
James Turrell’s
Michael Asher’s
Michael Heizer
Jenny Holzer
Wonder Woman
Lynda Carter
Charles White
Jesse Jackson
Robert Dunn
Yvonne Rainer
Trisha Brown
Allan Kaprow
Roland Barthes
Keith Haring
John Waters
Bertolt Brecht’s
James Brown
Dionne Warwick
John F. Kennedy’s
Lee Harvey Oswald
Jack Ruby
Jeff Koons
Ilona Staller
Damien Hirst
Takashi Murakami …KT
Mike Kelley’s
Ross Laycock
Catherine Opie
Alfonse D’Amato
Jesse Helms
Andres Serrano
Robert Mapplethorpe
Holland Cotter
Lutz Bacher
Pat Hearn
Jackson Pollock
A.K. Burns
A.L. Steiner
Justin Vivian Bond
Jack Smith’s
Henry Havemeyer
Paul McCarthy
Dana Schutz
Emmett Till
Robert Mapplethorpe’s
William Eggleston
Susan Meiselas
Cindy Sherman’s
Heji Shin
Donald Trump
Cameron Rowland
Donald Judd
Glenn Ligon
Cameron Rowland’s
Arthur Jafa’s
Martin Luther King
Miles Davis
Cam Newton
Barack Obama
Gavin Brown’s
LaToya Ruby Frazier
Marian Goodman Gallery
David Seidner
Greene Naftali
Galerie Buchholz
David Zwirner
Juergen Frank/Contour RA
Dawoud Bey
Stephen Daiter Gallery
Patrick Piel/Gamma-Rapho


Northern Arizona].TT

the Whitney Museum
Musée d’Art Moderne
the Guggenheim Museum
Manet-Projekt ’74
Menstruation Bathroom
Rozel Point
Lightning Field
Roden Crater
Times Square
Wonder Woman
Bliz-aard Ball Sale
the Corcoran Gallery of Art
Centre Pompidou
Turtle Tower
Kanye West
Adidas Yeezy
a Make America Great

Kunsthalle Düsseldorf
Washington, D.C.
Lake Charles
New York
New York City
New Jersey
Spiral Jetty
New Mexico
Los Angeles
Threepenny Opera
New York’s
b. York
b. United States
the United States
South Korea
San Francisco

Republican National Convention
Whitney Biennial
the Venice Biennale
the Tháp Rùa

Positivity     48.00%   
   Negativity   52.00%
The New York Times
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Here’s their conversation.On a recent afternoon in June, T Magazine assembled two curators and three artists — David Breslin, the director of the collection at the Whitney Museum of American Art; the American conceptual artist Martha Rosler; Kelly Taxter, a curator of contemporary art at the Jewish Museum; the Thai conceptual artist Rirkrit Tiravanija; and the American painter Torey Thornton — at the New York Times building to discuss what they considered to be the 25 works of art made after 1970 that define the contemporary age, by anyone, anywhere. Few paintings were singled out; land art was almost entirely absent, as were, to name just a few more categories, works on paper, sculpture, photography, fiber arts and outsider art.It’s important to emphasize that no consensus emerged from the meeting. Gradually, however, the art world came around to understanding her conceptual reasons for copying canonical works: to skewer the grand modernist myths of creativity and the artist as lone genius. There, he installed hundreds of works and everyday objects — from flags to beer bottles — depicting eagles, the symbol of his museum.In 1969, the Guerrilla Art Action Group, an art workers’ coalition, called for the resignation of the Rockefellers from the board of the Museum of Modern Art, believing the family was involved in the manufacture of weapons (chemical gas and napalm) destined for Vietnam. The same year, Cologne’s Wallraf-Richartz Museum refused to exhibit “Manet-Projekt ’74,” which examined the provenance of an Édouard Manet painting donated to that museum by a Nazi sympathizer.Thessaly La Force: There’s one work here that really looks at the institution of the museum. It gave a lot of space for people to think systematically about things the art world had relentlessly refused to recognize were systematic issues.Richard Nixon was up for re-election in 1971 when Philip Guston (b. Does anyone want to take a stab at that?RT: I think Philip Guston’s series of Nixon drawings became completely contemporary because it’s —Torey Thornton: A mirror of sorts.RT: It’s like talking about what we’re looking at today.TLF: Well, that’s a question I had, too. Maybe one or two of those people deserve to be on this list, but somehow I didn’t put them on.DB: It’s that problem of a body of work versus the individual.KT: But am I going to pick one painting of Charline’s? It’s this kind of practice and this discourse around abstraction — and what women are doing with it — that I think is the key.“Womanhouse” existed for just one month, and few material traces of the groundbreaking art project — room-size installations in a derelict Hollywood mansion — survive. Taken as a whole, the works created a new paradigm for female artists interested in women’s collective history and their relationships to domesticity, sex and gender.TLF: I think what’s interesting is that everything here is strictly art. Five editors — Rosalind Krauss, Max Kozloff, Lawrence Alloway, Joseph Masheck and Annette Michelson — wrote a scathing letter to the magazine condemning the ad as a “shabby mockery of the aims of [women’s liberation].” The critic Robert Rosenblum wrote a letter to the magazine congratulating Benglis for exposing the prudishness of people who considered themselves arbiters of avant-garde taste: “Let’s give three dildos and a Pandora’s Box to Ms. Benglis, who finally brought out of the closet the Sons and Daughters of the Founding Fathers of the Artforum Committee of Public Decency and Ladies Etiquette.” The ad became an iconic image of resistance to the sexism and double standards that continue to pervade the art world.DB: I’m surprised no one included Cindy Sherman. It’s so obvious, I’m not going to put it down.”TLF: No one did.RT: Well, I have Lynda Benglis’s Artforum ad, which has a relation to photography later on.MR: I thought that was really good.KT: I wanted to put Sherrie Levine’s “After Walker Evans” [in 1981, Levine exhibited reproductions of Depression-era photographs by Walker Evans that she rephotographed, questioning the value of authenticity], but didn’t because … I don’t why. The jetty 100 percent has to be on my list.KT: “The Lightning Field” [a 1977 work by the American sculptor Walter De Maria comprising 400 stainless steel poles staked in the New Mexico desert], “Roden Crater” [the American light artist James Turrell’s still-in-progress naked-eye observatory in Northern Arizona].TT: I thought, “Who can see it? What does ‘influence’ mean, what does it mean to be influenced through seeing something on a screen?” I was thinking, “Do I list what I’ve seen versus what I’ve obsessed over?” At that point, it’s all a reproduction or a sort of theatrical representation.MR: Totally.TT: I put Michael Asher’s show in the Santa Monica Museum [No. 19, see below] but with something like that — once it’s gone, it’s reproduction only. You can’t visit it, it doesn’t move somewhere else.TLF: Are the questions that the land artists were asking — are they no longer questions we’re asking today?TT: There’s no more land.MR: It’s a really interesting question. Then again, that’s why Smithson is interesting, because it’s almost like the non-site now [Smithson used the term “non-site” to describe works that were presented outside their original context, such as rocks from a New Jersey quarry exhibited in a gallery alongside photos or maps of the site where they came from].TLF: Then why did you include Gordon Matta-Clark?RT: There are many references for me, but I feel like “Splitting” hits all the other things that I’m thinking about. But I think now the idea that one is constantly assembling these truths, that it isn’t a list of unconsciousness, is really alive in that work.MR: It’s an interesting hypothesis. She actually enunciates things people might cleverly say but would never say in the art world: “Your gaze hits the side of my face.” Or all kinds of feminist stuff: “You construct intricate rituals which allow you to touch the skin of other men.” Who says stuff like that? I can’t do that, and I won’t.”MR: Dara figured out how to get her work into the art world, as opposed to the video people I named earlier, who weren’t interested in that. (The ethos of the piece continues to inform his engagement with the art world; he works without exclusive gallery representation and rarely gives interviews.) In 1988, he painted the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the African-American civil rights activist who twice ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, as a blond-haired, blue-eyed white man, a comment on how skin color unfairly and arbitrarily determines opportunities. It falls into the legacy of performative ephemeral works that begins with Judson Dance Theater [a 1960s dance collective that included Robert Dunn, Yvonne Rainer and Trisha Brown, among many others] and the Happenings [a term coined by the artist Allan Kaprow to describe loosely defined performance art pieces or events that often involved the audience] of the 1960s. So it’s the art world speaking to the art world about this work. In a recent exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Goldin concluded the sequence of nearly 700 photographs with a nod to these losses — a snapshot of two graffiti skeletons having sex.KT: Nan Goldin continues to have a very prominent role in the discourse, whether that’s about the art itself, like what she’s making, or the problems that we’re dealing with in the culture of the art world and beyond. She has become known as the art world’s boogeyman, but she might be its conscience.TT: I started having this thing happen where years later, after thinking about an artist a lot, I started seeing how they’ve influenced other artists. Her name came back in, and it’s around and around and around.MR: Isn’t that the way the art world always works? Even after he was famous, the art world said, “No.” It’s why we got minimalism.KT: I think Cady occupies a place of resistance, too. Everybody else is.DB: So much of the work has to do with conspiracy and paranoia, which feels way too “right now.” These things that have this immediate conjuring, like the Oswald figure being shot, or with Clinton and the Whitewater stuff that she does, with just the quick image of the figure and a line from a newspaper article. This is a total guess on my part, but even if you think about that as being a mode of communication — that if she’s going to function publicly, it’s going to be through the legal system — you see, even now, I’m making a conspiracy out of it!KT: You’re paranoid!DB: I think we all are.Jeff Koons (b. When the Whitney Museum of American Art invited him to create a billboard-size work for an exhibition called “Image World,” the postmodern provocateur submitted a blown-up, grainy photograph, printed on canvas, of himself and Ilona Staller — the Hungarian-Italian porn star he would later marry — in campy coital ecstasy, advertising an unmade film. I didn’t grow up revering that work.TT: I think there are a lot of younger artists now who are subliminally or quietly trying to find a way in between, of being like, “Oh, I’m really interested in the production of this type of studio, but I also want to be more rigorous and hands-on with my practice.” Or maybe they’re secretly obsessed with Jeff Koons, but it’s not something they would ever say for a New York Times interview. I think it’s a really good piece that influenced artists on this list, as did “Equilibrium.” Maybe they should be on the list. (In 1998, the Supreme Court ruled that the N.E.A.’s statute was valid and did not result in discrimination against the artists, nor did it suppress their expression.) By creating and exhibiting these works when she did, Opie openly defied those looking to shame queer communities and censor their visibility in art. The vulnerability of presenting oneself to one’s own camera like that, which I think is also incredible in Goldin’s work — the question of who is my world, and who do I want to be a part of it?MR: In both their cases, it’s about me and them, which is a huge thing that women brought. Bacher edited 1,200 hours of footage into 40 minutes of video stills upon the dealer’s death in 2000, forming an unusual window into the inner workings of a gallery, as well as an intimate record of an influential woman as she stares down death.TLF: Here’s something that I’m wondering: Cady Noland, Lutz Bacher and Sturtevant are — elusive is one word, anonymous could be another — people. The Times reporters now even have little pictures in their bios — everybody’s been personalized because we don’t remember that the work is supposed to stand for itself.Michael Asher (b. That work characterized his unique practice over more than 40 years: In 1970, Asher removed all the doors of an exhibition space at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., to allow light, air and sound into the galleries, calling viewers’ attention to the ways such places are usually closed off — both literally and metaphorically — from the outside world; for a 1991 show at Paris’s Centre Pompidou, he searched all the books filed under “psychoanalysis” in the museum’s library for abandoned paper fragments, including bookmarks; in 1999, he created a volume listing nearly all of the artworks that the Museum of Modern Art in New York had deaccessioned since its founding — privileged information rarely made public.“Community Action Center,” a 69-minute erotic romp through the imaginations of artists A.K. Burns (b. The piece is meant to titillate.KT: It’s a really important work, too.TLF: I haven’t seen it.KT: They spearheaded this project to essentially make porn, but it’s much more than that, with all kinds of people from their queer community. Nobody here named Mapplethorpe — interesting.KT: Thought about it.MR: Nobody mentioned William Eggleston because we really hate photography in the art world. But then my partner was like, “Well what’s the … ” Like, “I’ve seen pregnancy, what’s the difference?”KT: “A kid could do that?”TT: Or not quite that, but: I understand it aesthetically and I’m interested in the photo, but what’s it saying and what’s it doing?KT: No one wants to look at that work. I think there’s something gross and revolting and very brave about that work.In a much-discussed 2016 exhibition titled “91020000” at the New York nonprofit Artists Space, Cameron Rowland (b. The New Yorker traced Rowland’s artistic ancestry back to “Duchamp, by way of Angela Davis.”TT: Cameron Rowland’s work is further out on the edges of what’s considered art. It’s still moving things forward, even if they’re moving back a little bit.DB: I think Arthur Jafa is coming out of a lineage of collage and photomontage artists — from Martha Rosler, sitting right here, to early artists coming out of the Russian avant-garde — this idea that you don’t have to agree or adhere to a singular point of view. I think she’s pushed the boundaries of photography in the art world.Source photographs and videos at top, in order of appearance: copyright Estate of Sturtevant, courtesy of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London, Paris, Salzburg; courtesy of Dara Birnbaum, Electronic Arts Intermix, New York and Marian Goodman Gallery; courtesy of Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York/Rome; Studio Danh Vo; courtesy of Barbara Kruger; © Judy Chicago/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, and courtesy of Through the Flower Archives; courtesy of Arthur Jafa and Gavin’s Brown Enterprise, New York/Rome; courtesy of collection M HKA/clinckx, Antwerp; David Seidner; copyright Lutz Bacher, courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne; courtesy of the Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark and David Zwirner; the Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York; Juergen Frank/Contour RA by Getty Images; © Dawoud Bey, Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco; Patrick Piel/Gamma-Rapho via Getty ImagesAdvertisement

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