The Top 50 Exhibitions of 2022 – Hyperallergic

Are we finally back to our normal selves after almost three years of a global pandemic that upended so many lives? It’s still hard to tell, isn’t it? In most of the world, art museums and galleries sprung back to life in 2022, matching or coming close to pre-pandemic levels of programming and attendance. Here in New York, we’ve returned to the familiar pickle of too many shows running at once, and not enough time to see them all. This year, we’re going big with a list of 50 memorable shows from around the world, seen and loved by our team of editors and contributors. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, as travel was still limited this year. Instead, this is a snapshot of who we were and what we saw in 2022, including some surprises. —Hakim Bishara, Senior Editor 

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1. Donatello, the Renaissance

Donatello, “David Victorious” (1435-40) (photo Daniel Larkin/Hyperallergic)

In Florence, the largest Donatello retrospective in history was presented at the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi and the Musei Del Bargello. Its size and scope eclipsed the Bargello’s first retrospective back in 1887 as well as a major 1985–86 traveling exhibition at several venues. The Catholic Church allowed several Donatello sculptures to leave their churches and come to the museum for the first time. That largesse came with a price. The show’s wall tags and catalogue avoided long-standing art historical debates about how several Donatello sculptures exude a homoerotic charge, and barely unpacked the artist’s queerness, deferring to the Vatican’s preference for silence. Hyperallergic was the only major outlet that celebrated Donatello’s queerness and openly challenged the Vatican. —Daniel Larkin

Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, Italy (palazzostrozzi.org)
March 19–July 31, 2022
Curated by Francesco Caglioti, professor of medieval art history at the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa


2. Global Climate Actions

The climate activism group Just Stop Oil splashing tomato Soup on Vincent Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” (1888) at London’s National Gallery (courtesy Just Stop Oil)

This was the wild card in our museum calendars this year, as climate activists from as far afield as London to Canberra interrupted our social media feeds with images designed to shock us out of our complacency. While many museum leaders and their conservative allies tried to ramp up the outrage over these actions (that, we should all be reminded, did NOT damage the art and raised awareness about the looming climate crisis), what was apparent was the generational divide in this debate as younger generations refuse to keep art on an elitist pedestal while the world faces climate disaster after disaster. Thankfully, some museums seem to be taking heed and are writing up plans to address the climate crisis. These may not be the actions/exhibitions we all wanted to see, but they were the shows that many of us apparently had to see. This is also a great example of how the public continues to see museums as forums for debate and actions that impact society at large. The question is whether museums, who for the last 40 years have been engaged with an art world version of Reaganomics, will continue to stay open to new debates, like this, or pull up their drawbridges in favor of a more elitist and top-down approach to luxury commodities … I mean contemporary art. —Hrag Vartanian

Museums Around the World (hyperallergic.com)
Begun October 14, 2022


3. Remaking the Exceptional: Tea, Torture, & Reparations | Chicago to Guantánamo

This was unfortunately the show we needed in 2022, to mark the 20th anniversary of the opening of the US government’s extralegal military prison at its naval base in Cuba. Connecting the human rights abuses of Gitmo with those committed closer to home at the hands of the Chicago Police Department (CPD), Remaking the Exceptional: Tea, Torture, & Reparations | Chicago to Guantánamo managed to be enraging, heartbreaking — and replete with the humanity of creative resistance. The show filled the entirety of the DePaul Art Museum and included the work of some two dozen individuals and collectives, among them inmates at an Illinois supermax facility and Gitmo detainees past and present: Dorothy Burge, quilter of textile portraits of CPD victims; the Invisible Institute, whose interactive map concretely linked torture techniques employed by the police to those used in overseas wars; and Tea Project, an endeavor of Amber Ginsburg and Aaron Hughes, who also co-curated the exhibition. The art here was documentary, conceptual, legalistic, therapeutic, representational, memorializing, and visionary. It was whatever it needed to be and much of it — like the struggle for justice — is ongoing. —Lori Waxman

DePaul Art Museum, Chicago (depaul.edu)
March 10–August 7, 2022
Curated by contributing artists Amber Ginsburg and Aaron Hughes


4. Jiha Moon: Stranger Yellow

Jiha Moon, “Yellowave (Stranger Yellow)” (2021), ink and acrylic on Hanji mounted on canvas, 60 x 120 inches (courtesy the artist and Derek Eller New York)

Jiha Moon was born in Daegu, South Korea, in 1973. She came to the United States in the late 1990s, after earning her BFA and MFA in Korea, and got another MFA at the University of Iowa. She has never been afraid to start over or try something new. In 2012, she used a grant from the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia to sign up at a local clay studio in Atlanta, where she has lived for many years. In her paintings and ceramics, she pulls together colors, images, and symbols from the high and low cultures of where she has lived, from South Korea to Atlanta and the American South. In nearly every work, the color yellow — as stylized brushstroke, sinuous wave, or banana peel — plays a role. While some might see Moon’s work as a hybrid of East and West, I agree with the great Antillean writer Edouard Glissant that “hybrid” conveys predictability. Glissant’s term “creolization,” which underscores the continuous flux and absorption of different cultures and locales, more accurately characterizes Moon’s bricoleur approach to living in the Diaspora. I always encounter something unpredictable in her art. Her openness to using any source — from classic Asian symbols to kitsch fantasy, Pop art, mall culture, and Korean and American folk art — makes her work flamboyant, captivating, odd, funny, smart, uncanny, comically monstrous, and unsettling. And, most of all, over the top. Moon has synthesized face jugs, teapots, and incense burners. She glazes and paints the entire surface, both inside and outside, and attaches various objects, including ceramic fortune cookies, banana peels, pinkish round forms topped by red nipples, and synthetic hair. I think of her ceramics as household gods, mythic creatures, animal spirits, dolls, and idols, whose exact motivations remain elusive. Are they benign or sinister presences? Do they protect us? Or are they tricksters? How stable is the world people of color live in? —John Yau

Derek Eller Gallery (hyperallergic.com)
January 6–February 5, 2022
Organized by the gallery


5. Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain

Krishna Lifting Mount Govardhan after 2020 restoration (detail)” (c. 600, Southern Cambodia, Takeo Province, Phnom Da), sandstone, 203.1 x 68 x 55.5 cm (Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Fund, 1973.106; photo courtesy Cleveland Museum of Art)

The immersive projection opening Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain lets visitors approach twin-peaked Phnom Da by boat. Beginning in the 7th century CE, pilgrims there would have had an immersive experience of their own when they entered a small cave with a sculpture of Krishna, his hand lifted to the roof, transforming Phnom Da into a scene from Hindu mythology. The museum worked with Cambodian authorities and experts to place the sculpture they hold back into context, demonstrating the richness that comes from cooperating with source countries rather than desperately shielding their collections from repatriation claims. —Erin Thompson

Cleveland Museum of Art (clevelandart.org)
November 14–January 30, 2022
Organized by the museum


6. Kaari Upson: never, never ever, never in my life, never in all my born days, never in all my life, never

Kaari Upson: never, never ever, never in my life, never in all my born days, never in all my life, never, Installation view, Sprüth Magers, Los Angeles, August 4– October 8, 2022 (artwork © The Art Trust created under Kaari Upson Trust; photo by Robert Wedemeyer, courtesy Sprüth Magers)

Kaari Upson, who passed away this year after a long battle with cancer, certainly deserves a comprehensive museum retrospective. This show wasn’t quite that. Instead, it was the perfect tribute, lovingly curated by her longtime gallery, to an exceedingly gifted artist: an intimate show that gave newcomers a broad overview of her multimedia practice and recurring themes and foregrounded the imagination and humor that made her art so compelling. As Upson might have had it, the sadness of the occasion was mitigated by a raucous and singular aesthetic that will be sorely missed. —Natalie Haddad

Sprüth Magers, Los Angeles (spruethmagers.com)
August 4–October 15, 2022
Organized by the gallery


7. A Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration

Jamea Richmond-Edwards, “This Water Runs Deep” (2022) (photo Seph Rodney/Hyperallergic)

A Movement in Every Direction: Legacies of the Great Migration is one of those exhibitions whose creation is so timely and needed and whose ambitions are so irreproachable that it should be celebrated for simply being. The show explores the historical circumstance of the Great Migration when, between 1910 and 1970, approximately six million Black Americans moved from the American South to parts north and west, and does so through the stories, traditions, politics, and memories of the featured artists who all have familial connections to the South. Still, the show is more compelling when regarded through the work of the younger generation of artists, such as Zoë Charlton, Robert Pruitt, Jamea Richmond-Edwards, and Leslie Hewitt. The more established artists such as Theaster Gates, Torkwase Dyson, and Mark Bradford have work that is less convincing because it lacks a sense of felt connection. Nevertheless, on the whole, the show is worthy of both celebration and applause and should be seen by all regardless of where you hail from. —Seph Rodney

Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson (msmuseumart.org)
April 9–September 11, 2022; traveled to the Baltimore Museum of Art October 30, 2022–January 29, 2023
Curated by Ryan N. Dennis and Jessica Bell Brown


8. Phyllida Barlow: glimpse

Installation view of Phyllida Barlow: glimpse at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles, 2022 (© Phyllida Barlow, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth, photo: Zak Kelley)

The mid-size, two-level gallery at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles did not leave much room to fully absorb the expansiveness of Phyllida Barlow’s giant, creatural constructions, but that didn’t keep the works from being captivating in all their entropic glory. Barlow evokes disasters past (particularly post-WWII Britain) through an intriguing dual lens of trauma and childlike wonder. Despite the grand scale of most of the show’s works, Barlow channeled a poignant sense of ephemerality and imbued the show with a degree of pathos that is hard to come by and much needed. —NH

Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles (hauserwirth.com)
February 17–May 8, 2022
Organized by the gallery


9. Documenta 15

Documenta 15 (photo Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

A strong exhibition by Jakarta-based ruangrupa, a largely unknown curatorial group, this year’s Documenta was challenging and pushed the limits of what contemporary art can be and how it interacts with society. Sadly, the curators were not on top of things and didn’t seem prepared to address the messy questions around antisemitism, islamophobia, and other questionable material that was pointed out. Their inability to directly deal with these issues created unnecessary controversy and suggested the curatorial collective wasn’t prepared for such a big platform for their work. Alas, nothing is perfect, and the diverse array of work and its curation (often outsourced by the collective to others) were still important and felt poignant. The way forward in the world of art is going to be messy and difficult, and this exhibition showed that contemporary art can confront the challenges before us, even if imperfectly. —HV

Kassel, Germany (documenta-fifteen.de)
June 18–September 25, 2022
Curated by ruangrupa  


10. Medicine Man

A display of artificial limbs from the Wellcome Collection’s recently closed Medicine Man exhibition (courtesy Wellcome Collection)

Sir Henry Wellcome made a fortune selling pharmaceuticals and left it to a trust tasked with displaying his collection of medical implements from around the world. The Medicine Man exhibition initially used these artifacts to tell Wellcome’s story. Beginning a few years ago, they invited artists and writers to question the exhibition’s focus. Subhadra Das pointed out that Wellcome’s wealth allowed both his name and his power to live on beyond his death, in contrast to the nameless, exoticized people whose artifacts — and sometimes remains — were on display. This November, the Wellcome Collection decided that no amount of intervention would counter the foundation of the exhibition on a “racist, sexist, and ableist” view of medical history, and so they announced its permanent closure. —ET

Wellcome Collection, London, UK (wellcomecollection.org)
Taken down November 27, 2022
Organized by the museum


11. Forecast Form: Art in the Caribbean Diaspora, 1990s–Today

This show is both ravishingly beautiful and discomfiting. There are moments — such as early on in the show, where Peter Doig’s painting is featured (Doig is Scottish, but has lived in Trinidad since 2002) — where one might be given pause and wonder what the show is trying to do. Then there are the intermittent appearances of Ana Mendieta’s work that make me feel as if she is a duppy haunting the show. Ultimately, the exhibition does what it claims: gives viewers a version of the Caribbean that rethinks identity, place, and presence in ways that honestly surprise. And then at the end there is a video installation piece by Deborah Jack that is so damn gorgeous that, for the time I am enraptured by it, I too can imagine returning to the Caribbean to stay. —SR

MCA Chicago (mcachicago.org)
November 19, 2022–April 23, 2023
Curated by Carla Acevedo-Yates, Iris Colburn, Isabel Casso, and Nolan Jimbo


12. Into View: Bernice Bing

Bernice Bing, “Self Portrait with a Mask” (1960), oil on canvas, 33 1/4 × 29 1/4 inches (courtesy Asian Art Museum, San Francisco)

Bernice Bing (1936–1998) is an important figure in the history of Bay Area art who has never gotten the attention that she deserves. This show celebrated the museum’s recent acquisition of 24 of Bing’s works dating from 1959 to 1995, making it the largest public holding of her work and helping to change the public’s perception of this long-overlooked artist. One reason that Bing has been neglected is that she resists categorization. She was a devout Buddhist who for many years lived alone in rural California and someone nicknamed “Bingo,” whom the Cellar Bar in San Francisco’s Geary Theatre memorialized with a drink called the “Bingotini,” a martini made with 151-proof rum. She was an orphaned Chinese-American who was shuttled between 17 White foster homes and a Chinatown arts activist and teacher, who taught a class with the Filipino-American abstract artist Leo Valledor. She was an active member of the groups Lesbian Visual Artists and Asian American Women’s Artist Association, and a practicing calligrapher who studied with Saburo Hasegawa in 1957 at the California College of Arts and Crafts. The exhibition’s immediate takeaway was that the many paths Bing took in her work reflect her lifelong desire to find a unified self. To her credit, it seems that she never developed a signature style. The diversity of her artworks and subjects — from abstract landscapes to lotus sutras — shares something with another San Francisco-based artist, Ruth Asawa, who drew every day, worked in her community, and made figurative clay sculptures and abstract wire sculptures. The deep bond they share is their persistence. Asawa’s single-minded determination has finally been recognized. With this exhibition, Bing’s route, which was more circuitous and fractured than Asawa’s, is finally beginning to receive the attention and scholarship it deserves. —JY

Asian Art Museum, San Francisco (hyperallergic.com)
October 7, 2022–June 26, 2023
Curated by Abby Chen


13. Yatika Starr Fields: Fear Not

Detail of Yatika Starr Fields’s “Osage Shied: Oklahoma Nocturne” (2021) (photo Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

Few exhibitions made me think that I was seeing a way forward but this exhibition by Yatika Fields was one such show. In my review of the exhibition, I pointed out how Fields is in dialogue not only with his immediate subjects (like Standing Rock and the Oklahoma state flag), but also with his parents (both of whom are artists), notions of Native American sovereignty, and the artificial barriers between art and life. The ease with which he integrates and transforms the visual language he utilizes is impressive, and in the process, he is mining the meanings of settler colonial symbols for their superficial and false meanings. Unlike those of his contemporaries, who often lean heavily on nostalgia or references to create meaning, Fields makes things anew, making us question the foundations of meaning rather than simply our perceptions of them. He seems to avoid seeing art as an integral part of our societal ideas of progress, preferring to see it as a way to challenge power and its role in manufacturing consensus and meaning. I continue to think about this show and what it tells us about contemporary art today. —HV

Garth Greenan Gallery (garthgreenan.com)
January 27–March 12, 2022
Organized by the gallery


14. Danica Lundy: Three Hole Punch

Danica Lundy, “Compressions” (2021), oil on canvas, 72h x 96w x 1.50d inches (photo by Shark Senesac; courtesy the artist and Super Dakota, Brussels)

Danica Lundy’s paintings are topological views of an adolescent’s everyday life. In topology, or what some call ”rubber sheet geometry,” a form can be stretched so that a square becomes a circle. In Lundy’s paintings, there are multiple perspectives meshing together, as if reality was a Klein bottle existing in the fourth dimension. Informally, a Klein bottle is a one-sided surface which, if traveled upon, can be traced back to the point of origin while flipping the traveler upside down. The disorienting, vertiginous experience of looking at one of Lundy’s paintings is connected to the subject matter. In “Kissing Cavity” (2021), the view is from inside a teenage girl’s mouth, which Lundy configures as an aperture and the inside of a container. The mouth is looking at two classmates and the teacher at the blackboard, while the girl is pushing the rubber tip of a pencil between her front teeth, whose roots can be seen growing down into the gums, while looking down at a three-hole notebook and budding breasts. This is about hyperconsciousness, about being inside and outside one’s body simultaneously. Lundy’s ambitiously complex compositions (it’s no longer a dirty word) refute an earlier generation’s privileged claim that it all existed on the surface. The tension between the details and the overall image in these paintings is taut and perfectly pitched; everything feels necessary and is engaging to look at. We live in a society where looking is a form of assessment. In Lundy’s paintings, the bodies we see from the inside are exposed and under siege. —JY

Magenta Plains (magentaplains.com)
February 5–March 10, 2022
Organized by the gallery


15. Postwar Modern: New Art in Britain 1945–1965

Installation view of Postwar Modern: New Art in Britain 1945–1965 at the Barbican Centre, London (photo Olivia McEwan/Hyperallergic)

The Barbican could hardly have anticipated the February 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine when it programmed its March opening of PostwarModern: New Art in Britain 1945–1965. This remarkable exhibition deliberately focused on lesser-known artists’ attempts to make sense of, and work towards healing from, the atrocities of the Second World War. Its thematic rather than strict chronological curating allowed viewers to think in an abstract manner about the visually experimental and cathartic explosions of imagination on view. Its timely coincidence with the current Ukraine offensive however added such poignancy and urgency to make this an essential, powerful display. —Olivia McEwan

Barbican, London, UK (barbican.org.uk)
March 3–June 26, 2022
Curated by Jane Alison


16. William Kentridge

Installation view of William Kentridge at the Royal Academy of Art, London (photo Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

This sprawling retrospective told the story of an artist who challenges all orthodoxies while creating bodies of work that are simultaneously part of the zeitgeist yet brazenly unique and distinct from trends raging all around. I wish most retrospectives had this kind of space, which allowed visitors to get lost in the various rooms, watching videos, automatons, and other contraptions that demonstrate the artist’s sketchy vision of a world simultaneously gone awry and also in sync with a larger design that is equal parts rational and absurd. While so much of Kentridge’s work is about his beloved South Africa, he refuses to see any of those issues in his homeland as provincial but universalizes them, forcing us to confront the larger societal forces that impact all our lives. Seeing all his animations back to back you really get the sense he is writing a type of epic and each film is but a short story in the larger tale. —HV

Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK (royalacademy.org.uk)
September 24–December 11, 2022
Curated by Dr. Adrian Locke


17. The Candy Store: Funk, Nut, and Other Art with a Kick

Luis Cruz Azaceta, “Self-Portrait: After My Painting ‘Tough Ride Around in the City’” (1981), mixed media on paper, 30 x 22 inches. Crocker Art Museum, gift of James Kimberlin, 2020.3.13 (courtesy Crocker Art Museum)

The Candy Store was an elegy about one of the most important figures in Northern California art, the gallerist Adeliza McHugh. Many of the artists with work in the exhibition (Robert Arneson, Gladys Nilsson, Luis Jimenez) now have large platforms and renown. So many of those artists wouldn’t have that today without McHugh supporting them creatively and financially for three decades. Northern California art, to me, is all about freedom and risk. It’s important to see what McHugh and her Candy Store nurtured. It’s difficult to imagine a place like that surviving for so long in the current art market and financial ecosystem. She wasn’t in it for profit or fame, she wanted to promote creativity. We need more of that. —Clayton Schuster

Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento (crockerart.org)
February 2–May 1, 2022
Curated by Scott A. Shields, Ph.D


18. Sonic Terrains in Latinx Art

Installation view of works by Jimena Sarno (left) and Raphael Montañez Ortiz (right) in Sonic Terrains in Latinx Art, Vincent Price Art Museum, 2022 (photo by Monica Orozco)

The galleries at Vincent Price Art Museum were filled with a soft cacophony this summer. From experimental Mariachi to pre-Columbian instrumentals, to Chicano sci-fi opera and queer electro-punk, the works of more than 30 Latinx artists oozed sound across three floors of the museum. But the exhibition comprised much more than just music, showcasing installation, video, ephemera, sculpture, 3D-printed toy guns that were really speakers, a pair of graphic scores from Pulitzer Prize-winner Raven Chacon, and even a smashed piano from one of Raphael Montañez Ortiz’ famed “destructivist” performances, the exhibition was in many ways an exercise in “deep listening”: a concept theorized by experimental musician Pauline Oliveros referring to the selective action, as opposed to passive hearing, that cultivates heightened awareness of one’s environment. In presenting a history of Latinx sound practices that spanned disciplines and generations, Sonic Terrains in Latinx Art proved that the phenomenology — and the potency — of sound comprises much more than aural experience. —Isabella Parlamis

Vincent Price Art Museum, Los Angeles (vincentpriceartmuseum.org)
April 30–July 30, 2022
Co-curated by Javier Arellano Vences, Pilar Tompkins Rivas, and Joseph Daniel Valencia


19. Carlos Villa: Worlds in Collision

Carlos Villa‘s “Painted Cloak,” (1971) (photo by Joseph McDonald, courtesy the Estate of Carlos Villa and SFMOMA)

This retrospective allowed viewers to explore the unapologetically political oeuvre of Bay Area artist Carlos Villa, who was a Filipino-American artist and educator who (judging by the show) probably experimented with that thing you think is so cutting edge at the moment before you were even born. Riveting feather works like “My Father Walking Up Kearny Street for the First Time” (1995) and “Painted Cloak” (1971) reveal his interest in historical forms and experimentation, while the ephemera on display point to a more daring way of grappling with ideas around identity, power, and aesthetics. This exhibition was also the first major museum retrospective of an artist who is Filipino American, if you can believe it, and demonstrates that work like Villa’s represents fresh approaches to contemporary art that scholars and curators are still grappling with. If you want to learn more about the political spirit of Bay Area art, you have to know about Villa’s art. —HV

Newark Museum of Art (newarkmuseumart.org)
February 17–May 8, 2022
Organized by the San Francisco Art Institute and the Asian Art Museum by curators Abby Chen, Trisha Lagaso Goldberg, and Mark D. Johnson


20. Meret Oppenheim: My Exhibition

Meret Oppenheim, “Ma gouvernante – My Nurse – Mein Kindermädchen” (1936/1967), metal plate, shoes, string, and paper, 5 1/2 x 13 x 8 1/4 inches. Moderna Museet, Stockholm (© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Pro Litteris, Zurich. All images courtesy The Menil Collection)

Meret Oppenheim’s “Object” (1936), comprising a teacup, saucer, and spoon covered in gray fur, has become synonymous with the Swiss artist’s life’s work. But the sculpture is just one of equally enigmatic works, as exemplified in the artist’s first major transatlantic retrospective, Meret Oppenheim: My Exhibition, co-organized by the Menil Collection, Kunstmuseum Bern, and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). The show expands the public’s view of the artist’s 50-year career, leading viewers chronologically through Oppenehim’s inventiveness with a selection of more than 110 works as well as notably influential political moments of her life, such as the rise of Nazism in Europe, when she fled to Basel where she created some of her lesser-known works. Oppenheim, who died in 1985, continues to surprise, with work that “extends far beyond her famous teacup,” as Lauren Moya Ford wrote in her review of the exhibition for Hyperallergic.  —Nancy Zastudil

Menil Collection, Houston (menil.org)
March 25–September 18, 2022
Co-curated by Natalie Dupêcher, Anne Umland, and Nina Zimmer


21. Traitor, Survivor, Icon: The Legacy of La Malinche

Jorge González Camarena, “La pareja (The couple)” (1964), oil paint on wood with polyester and fiberglass backing, 7 feet x 48 ¼ inches, private collection (© Fundación Cultural Jorge González Camarena, AC)

Traitor, Survivor, Icon, which toured the Southwest in Denver, Albuquerque, and San Antonio, presented the first comprehensive examination of the Mexican historical figure La Malinche, who translated between Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés and Indigenous people. The exhibition reckoned with the modern understanding of Malinche and the tensions surrounding her legacy with over 60 works by Mexican and Mexican-American artists, bringing together five centuries of portrayals of Malinche. Curated into five metaphors that Malinche represents across time — “La Lengua/The Interpreter,” “La Indígena/The Indigenous Woman,” “La Madre de Mestizaje/The Mother of a Mixed Race,” “La Traidora/The Traitor,” and “Chicana: Contemporary Reclamations” — the show combines historical and contemporary works, establishing a discussion that reflects on the cultural and historical agendas that have narrated her story. This critical exhibition demonstrates how artists have operated a single story to express varying societal beliefs, from conflict and betrayal to reverence and resiliency. The show is vital in reconsidering Malinche’s everlasting relevance and how authors and artists have manipulated her story. —Joshua Gomez-Ortega

Albuquerque Art Museum (cabq.gov)
June 11–September 4, 2022
Co-curated by Denver Art Museum’s Curator of Art of the Ancient Americas Victoria I. Lyall and independent curator Terezita Romo


22. Art for the Future: Artists Call and Central American Solidarities

Dona Ann McAdams, Procession for Peace march with Artists Call Against US Intervention in Central America banner, New York, 1984, silver gelatin print (courtesy the artist)

Timely and historical, urgent and archival, this exhibition explored the political artworks, films, poetry, performances, and actions created by participants in the formative 1980s transnational activist campaign Artists Call Against US Intervention in Central America. Originating at Tufts University Art Galleries, the exhibition draws on rediscovered archival materials from the Museum of Modern Art’s Library. Research and ephemera from the personal archives of prominent Artists Call organizers Doug Ashford, Josely Carvalho, and Lucy Lippard form the exhibition’s core, while contributions from contemporary artists commissioned to respond to the original movement demonstrate the continued vitality of artwork as social commentary and the power of artists to communicate ideas about our world, including its injustices. —Rachel Harris-Huffman

University of New Mexico, Albuquerque (artmuseum.unm.edu)
September 6–December 3, 2022
Curated by Erina Duganne and Abigail Satinsky


23. Rochelle Feinstein: You Again

Rochelle Feinstein, “Travel Abroad” (1999), acrylic, watercolor, laser prints, shopping bags, Carabineri diploma case, cardboard box, tape on canvas; Mixed media on linen, 74 x 206 inches (photo Natalie Haddad/Hyperallergic)

While this exhibition, one of a three-part mini-retrospective that spanned New York, Paris, and Los Angeles, won’t go down in history as 2022’s most complex or timely shows, it was to my mind one of the year’s most pleasurable. Rochelle Feinstein, a restless and slyly funny multimedia artist, was represented by a body of work that evokes the creative free-for-alls of 1980s artists like Martin Kippenberger, but without the boy’s club vibe. Instead, Feinstein’s keen eye for color and juxtapositions, along with her sharp wit, brings out unexpected and welcome perspectives on the world around us. —NH

Hannah Hoffman Gallery, Los Angeles (hannahhoffman.la)
February 12–March 26, 2022
Organized by the gallery


24. Flying Woman: The Paintings of Katherine Bradford

Katherine Bradford’s “Fear of Waves” (2015), center, is one of the most prominent works in her survey exhibition at the Portland Museum of Art. (photo Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

As I explained in my review of the retrospective, Katherine Bradford’s paintings are luscious and visually enthralling. Her superhero and swimmer paintings are some of her best-known series, and they demonstrate the breadth of her painterly talent that feels deeply personal while being engaged with the history of art. Bradford continues to innovate in her work as she finds new ways to apply paint and color to her canvases as their subject matter walks a fine line between representation and stereotype. A glorious celebration of the power of painting by an artist who refuses to rest on her laurels. —HV

Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine (portlandmuseum.org)
June 25–September 11, 2022
Organized by Jaime DeSimone


25. Desert Rider

Installation view of Desert Rider (2022) at Phoenix Art Museum (photo by Airi Katsuta, courtesy Phoenix Art Museum)

As Lynn Trimble writes in her review of Desert Rider, “Automobiles have long been signifiers of status and achievement in American culture, reinforcing the values of the dominant culture while promulgating economic inequality. But here, Latinx and Indigenous artists use automobiles to amplify their cultural identity and heritage while questioning the systems that enable their erasure.” The works on view range from celebratory to critical, reclaiming power and identity in each instance. From Justin Favela’s “Seven Magic Tires” (2022) made from tires donated by Discount Tire to Jose Villalobos’s “QueeRiders” (2022) saddles embellished with lowrider-style chain-link steering wheels and fuzzy dice to Liz Cohen’s “Lowrider Builder and Child” (2012) that melds assumptions of masculinity and femininity in lowrider culture, Desert Rider traces the lineage of 1960s counterculture to today’s freedom movements, using “art as the vehicle of choice” to reflect on the identities of those who inhabit and inform the region. —NZ

Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix (phxart.org)
April 24–Sept 18, 2022
Curated by Gilbert Vicario


26. Grounded in Clay: The Spirit of Pueblo Pottery

“Grandmother clay bonds us all.” The phrase floats on a wall above a selection of clay works in Grounded in Clay, an exhibition of pottery curated by artist-maker-members of the 21 Pueblo Tribes in the Southwest. Each curator chose one or two works from the School of Advanced Research and offered a piece of writing in response. The result is a congregation of contemporary voices, experiences, and lineages that frame hundreds of years of pottery as vital to their ways of life and approaches to artmaking. The show also tapped into the power of visual language across cultures, making literal and metaphorical connections throughout. For example, artist Dan Namingha (Tewa/Hopi) selected a bowl by Nampeyo (Tewa/Hopi) with an abstract motif of two birds opposite each other that reminds him “the past is our future, the future is our past.” —NZ

Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Santa Fe (indianartsandculture.org)
July 31, 2022–May 29, 2023
Curated by approximately 60 community members from each of the 21 Pueblo tribes in the Southwest, and organized by the School for Advanced Research and the Vilcek Foundation


27. Voice a Wild Dream: Moments in Asian America Art and Activism, 1968–2022

Installation view of Voice a Wild Dream: Moments in Asian America Art and Activism, 1968-2022 at Oxy Arts, Los Angeles. Pictured: materials from Stop DiscriminAsian (photo AX Mina/Hyperallergic)

Last year, teen punk band The Linda Lindas’ “Racist, Sexist Boy” went viral, providing a much-needed tonic for people reeling from racist, sexist boys in various sectors of society, from high school hallways all the way up to the halls of government power. Nearly 30 years prior, Martin Wong, the father of The Linda Lindas bassist Eloise Wong, co-founded Giant Robot magazine with Eric Nakamura to cover Asian-American pop culture, often from a punk perspective. And some 30 years before that, UC Berkeley activists Emma Gee and Yuji Ichioka coined the term “Asian American” in the midst of racial justice efforts in the 1960s. This exhibition, curated by Occidental Professor of Practice Kris Kuramitsu at Oxy Arts, the public art center for Occidental College, took visitors on an intergenerational journey of Asian-American arts and activism. Kuramitsu helped connect magazines like Gidra and Bridge in the 1970s to contemporary projects like the Auntie Sewing Squad, lovingly acronymized as ASS, which produced face masks in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Voice a Wild Dream communicated both urgency in the wake of 21st-century hate and timelessness in its reminder that today’s struggles have a long history. We stand on the shoulders of giant robots. —AX Mina

Oxy Arts, Los Angeles (oxyarts.oxy.edu)
September 8–November 18, 2022
Curated by Kris Kuramitsu


28. how we are in time and space: Nancy Buchanan, Marcia Hafif, Barbara T. Smith

Installation view of how we are in time and space at the Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena. Pictured: Nancy Buchanan and Barbara T. Smith, “With Love from A to B” (1977) (photo by Ian Byers-Gamber, courtesy Armory Center for the Arts)

While we fetishize artists laboring in the solitude of their studios, less is said about art scenes, the rich and intricate friendships that make art possible in a world that’s often hostile to it. And of course, these forms of support can be an even greater necessity for anyone not a straight White man navigating the art establishment. The exhibition how we are in time and space celebrated the work of Nancy Buchanan, Marcia Hafif, and Barbara T. Smith, part of the first graduating class of the University of California, Irvine MFA program in the early 1970s, who would come to shape the West Coast avant-garde. In tracing the overlaps and connections between the three friends’ work, created against the vagina-strewn backdrop of a nascent feminist art, curator Michael Ned Holte brilliantly reveals how artmaking is a process of weird and lively communion. —Anya Ventura

Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, California (armoryarts.org)
January 28–June 12, 2022
Curated by Michael Ned Holte


29. Chie Fueki: You and I

Chie Fueki, “finally Bridget” (2021), acrylic and mixed media on mulberry paper on wood, 60 x 48 inches (photo by Pierre Le Hors; courtesy the artist and DC Moore Gallery, New York)

In an age of pronouns and the changing parameters of self-identification, Fueki’s choice of “You and I” is telling, as they are about the self and other but not about gender, at least as it’s codified by mainstream culture. In this group of five portraits, the only face we see is reflected in the mirror in “finally Bridget” (2021), which depicts a friend of the artist after she has transitioned. Born in a traditional Japanese community in Brazil, Fueki’s art pushes against the constraints of Western oil painting and the masterpiece tradition, beginning with her process of working in acrylic and collage on mulberry paper, which she mounts on wood, as well as her use of different culturally coded images and perspectival systems. With the works’ radiating lines, patterns, and evocations of force fields, often done in what Fueki calls “exuberant color,” the effects are dazzling. Fueki’s approach can be characterized as meticulous, with everything done by hand. No matter how busy or densely layered her painting, nothing feels extraneous or unconsidered. In a time of fabrication and outsourcing, her hands-on approach might seem old-fashioned, but you would be wrong to think so. The pleasure of making rings true in all of Fueki’s work. They are both portraits and celebrations — at once radical, generous, and self-effacing. Fueki’s collapsing together of work and pleasure challenges the mainstream’s preoccupation with sybaritic leisure and the selfies that record it. —JY

DC Moore Gallery (hyperallergic.com)
January 7–February 12, 2022
Organized by the gallery


30. Peter Williams: Nyack

Peter Williams (1952–2021) was born in the comfortable town of Nyack, a little north of Manhattan, and had his first show there when he was 17 years old. Soon after, his life was irreparably changed and he realized he was living on borrowed time. When he was a young man living in New Mexico, he was a passenger in a car driven by a suicidal companion who drove off a cliff. The person driving did not suffer major injuries, while Williams had to have a leg amputated. Being at the mercy of someone else’s self-loathing permanently marked Williams’s life. In his work, Williams channels an awareness that abuse and mayhem are integral to the state’s treatment of people of color. What makes his treatment of this subject difficult for the mainstream art world to embrace — difficulties faced by Robert Colescott and Peter Saul — is the mixture of offbeat humor, abject horror, and seething rage. And like Colescott and Saul, Williams had a wide and deep conversation with art history. He incorporates aspects of geometric abstraction and pointillism, along with caricature, invented superheroes, and a unique orchestration of colors. Williams’s subjects don’t exist apart from his colors, that’s why people are discomforted. How do you respond to a figure that Williams called a “lynching tree,” hoisting a plump, yellow-haired man in checkered coveralls? —JY

Eric Firestone Gallery (ericfirestonegallery.com)
October 28–December 23, 2022
Organized by the gallery


31. Brenda Goodman’s Self-portraits

Brenda Goodman, “Self-Portrait 4A” (1994), oil on wood. Diptych: 80 x 72 inches (© Brenda Goodman, courtesy Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York)

This exhibition by painter Brenda Goodman focused on her self-portraits and it was a must-see. In a series of paintings, she taps into the voracious hunger at the core of our beings, demonstrating an unquenchable thirst for more, beyond ourselves. Here the figures eat paint, like they are consuming the building blocks of their existence, hungry for more. The figures themselves also look scared and somewhat maladapted to their space, writhing with discomfort but also intensely powerful with their monumental torsos and their piercing gazes, even if their eyes are sometimes cloaked or obscured. It’s rare to see work with the emotional rawness and directness of art like this, and I look forward to the day this series of works is better known. As John Yau explained in his review earlier this year, “​​Goodman is the great psychologically driven portraitist of the past 50 years.” —HV

Sikkema Jenkins & Co. (sikkemajenkinsco.com)
January 11–February 12, 2022
Organized by the gallery


32. Peer to Peer

All art builds on the past, but the most successful re-energizes art historical works. Enter Peer to Peer, an online group exhibition hosted by Feral File, and organized by Tina Rivers Ryan at the Buffalo AKG Art Museum (formerly the Albright-Knox Art Gallery). The 13 artists in this show use works in the AKG’s permanent collection as a starting point for newly commissioned art using technology. There are more artworks in the show than can be discussed here, but LaTurbo Avedon deserves a shoutout for “Club Rothko — Orange and Yellow Starter Pack,” a virtual environment inspired by the game Mass Effect 2 and ubiquitous Mark Rothko wallpaper. The piece, which takes inspiration from the abstract work “Orange and Yellow” (1956), comments on the increased corporatization of the web while transforming Rothko’s famed color fields into subtle undulating forms. Of course, the original works vibrate in their own way, but I couldn’t help recalling the Rothko Chapel while looking at this work for its similarly immersive environment. Whereas the Rothko Chapel feels like visiting a corporate interpretation of the Star Wars Death Star, Avedon’s environment is similarly spare, while recharging the work with uncanny energy lit from behind the screen. —Paddy Johnson

Feral File (feralfile.com)
Ongoing
Curated by Tina Rivers Ryan


33. Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room

Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (photo by Anna-Marie Kellen; courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The Metropolitan Museum’s ongoing installation Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room, which opened in late 2021, remains one of my favorite spaces in New York City. Enter for a transfusion of joy, creativity, and celebration of the lives of people who are usually an afterthought, if they are even remembered at all, in most of our leading cultural institutions (including all too much of the rest of The Met itself). The room lets us see a possible future where museums are spaces for imagining possibilities together — and having fun while doing so. —ET

The Met (metmuseum.org)
July 2021–ongoing
Collaborative project directed by lead curator Hannah Beachler, with consulting curator Michelle Commander


34. Joan Mitchell

Joan Mitchell, “Untitled” (1992), Komal Shah and Gaurav Garg Collection (© Estate of Joan Mitchell, courtesy Baltimore Museum of Art)

Many or most retrospective, monographic exhibitions are arranged chronologically and Joan Mitchell, which originated at the Baltimore Museum of Art, and later traveled to SFMOMA, does precisely this. But with this show, the curators were profoundly right in doing so. In Baltimore, the viewer sees Mitchell move from early flirtations with the figure to abstract, horizontal slashes of thick pigment, and later to large islands of color, then to blocky compositions, and on to dense jungles of vertical tinted vine-like forms. Mitchell comes across as incessantly curious and inexhaustibly brave. This show does Mitchell justice by showing her to be one of the greatest abstract painters I will likely ever see. —SR

Baltimore Museum of Art (artbma.org)
March 6 – August 14, 2022
Co-organized by the BMA and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, co-curated by Katy Siegel and Sarah Roberts


35. Afro-Atlantic Histories

Installation view of Afro-Atlenactic Histories at the National Gallery of Art, London (photo Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

This epic exhibition, which started in Brazil (and captured the top spot in our 2019 best of world exhibitions list), came to the United States this year in a smaller but still impactful version. More than 130 works, dating from the 17th century, demonstrate the power of art to tell the story of one of the world’s most deadly trade routes that dehumanized millions of people in the name of profit. The mix of historical and contemporary work made the visual case for the power of art to bridge such unique temporary and cultural spheres. I doubt anyone left this exhibition without feeling moved — the latest example of a museum show helping to expand the borders of what constitutes Black diasporic art for US art audiences. —HV

National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (nga.gov)
April 10–July 17, 2022
US tour curated by Kanitra Fletcher


36. Willie Cole: No Strings

Installation view of Willie Cole: No Strings at Alexander and Bonin (photo by Joerg Lohse, courtesy Alexander and Bonin)

I’d sing a song of praise to Willie Cole’s exhibition No Strings if I knew how to sing or play any kind of instrument. What Cole did for this exhibition is transform blemished musical instruments — acoustic guitars, saxophones, pianos — into astounding sculptures depicting human and nonhuman forms. And those sculptures had stories to tell and songs to sing if one cared to mute all other noises and listen. Cole, who calls himself a “perceptual engineer,” is known for his work with found material, from plastic water bottles to shoes. In this show, found material finds a soul. —Hakim Bishara

Alexander and Bonin (alexanderandbonin.com)
April 1–June 18, 2022
Organized by the gallery


37. Self-Determined: A Contemporary Survey of Native and Indigenous Artists

Ian Kuali’i (Kanaka Maoli/Native Hawaiian-Shis Inday/Mescalero Apache), “Ma Ka Ho‘ona‘auao Ā Ma Ka Ihe Paha – By Education or by Spear (Monument/Pillar Series)” (2022), latex paint, site specific mural commission, dimensions variable on 26 x 13’ wall (photo by Neebinnauzhik Southall/Hyperallergic)

Since 2021, Danyelle Means has served as the first Indigenous Executive Director of the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The thoughtfully critical focus she brings to the role is evident in Self-Determined: A Contemporary Survey of Native and Indigenous Artists, which begins by grounding itself in the sights and sounds of the Tewa and Diné languages. The show “reveals an intriguing slice of the breadth of work that Indigenous artists are creating today, presenting rich expressions which also prompt questions about the contexts that we collectively occupy,” wrote Neebinnauzhik Southall in their review for Hyperallergic. The 13 participating artists use painting, video, sound, installation, and more to draw attention not only to important environmental, political, and social issues, but to recognize and honor the people and the lands that support and inform expression, identity, and community. —NZ

Center for Contemporary Arts Santa Fe (ccasantafe.org)
August 18–December 30, 2022
Curated by Danyelle Means (Oglala Lakota) and Kiersten Fellrat


38. no existe un mundo poshuracán: Puerto Rican Art in the Wake of Hurricane Maria

Gamaliel Rodríguez, Collapsed Soul, 2020–21. Ink and acrylic on canvas, 84 × 112 in. (© 2021 Gamaliel Rodríguez; photo by Gamaliel Rodríguez; courtesy the artist and Nathalie Karg Gallery NYC)

This exhibition opened to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the Category 4 storm that made landfall on September 20, 2017, killing thousands in its path and during the long months of its aftermath. Works by 20 artists based in Puerto Rico and the diaspora, all created between 2017 and 2022, examine the systemic failures that allowed Hurricane Maria to be as devastating as it was — from local and federal government negligence to the archipelago’s enduring colonial relationship to the United States. Don’t expect to find stereotypical or mainstream representations of natural disasters; the show’s strength is in its ability to complicate those images through art that is at times highly personal, like Sofía Córdova’s nearly two-hour-long video dawn_chorus ii: el niágara en bicicleta (2018), which begins in near-total darkness with her aunt’s cell-phone footage documentation of the storm’s arrival. Gamaliel Rodríguez’s haunting painting “Collapsed Soul” (2020–21) portrays the wreck of SS El Faro, a cargo ship traveling from Florida to Puerto Rico that sunk during Hurricane Joaquin in 2015, leaving the region without necessary supplies and exposing its condition of dependency. The show’s title, which translates to “a post-hurricane world doesn’t exist,” evokes the many maelstroms in which Puerto Rico is caught as well as the hope for a better, more just world. —Valentina Di Liscia

Whitney Museum of American Art (whitney.org)
November 23, 2022–April 23, 2023
Organized by Associate Curator Marcela Guerrero with Angelica Arbelaez and Sofía Silva


39. Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered

Morris Hirshfield, “Girl in Flowered Dress” (1945), oil on canvas, 32 × 25 inches (© 2022 Robert and Gail Rentzer for Estate of Morris Hirshfield / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY; American Folk Art Museum, New York, gift of Donna and Carroll Janis)

Stepping into the world of Morris Hirshfield, I was ready to be mesmerized by a sea of ornamental beauty. What I didn’t expect was for the show to change the way I thought about art history. Hirshfield (disrespectfully categorized in the 1940s as one of the “modern primitives”) was the last self-taught artist to receive a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. A Polish Jewish immigrant, tailor, and patent-holding shoemaker, Hirshfield only began his painting career at 65. He enchanted the art world elite through his singular blend of textile-inspired patterns, otherworldly proportions, and unnerving naked women who are somehow both awkwardly posed dolls and fiercely defiant figures. Shortly after his solo show, the paintings’ perceived lewdness and his unschooled eye sent reviewers into a fury, leading to the dismissal of MoMA director Alfred H. Barr Jr. and the erasure of self-taught artists from the modern art narrative. The act of bringing Hirshfield’s paintings into the light of day is a critical window into his generation of Jewish American immigrant life and the covered-up exploitation of folk and self-taught artists in the Modernist era. In a time when our way of life is increasingly under threat, Hirshfield’s paintings are beacons of Jewish resilience and beauty. —Isabella Segalovich

American Folk Art Museum (folkartmuseum.org)
September 23, 2022–January 29, 2023
Curated by Richard Meyer with advisor Susan Davidson and coordinating curator Valérie Rousseau


40. Hew Locke: The Procession

Installation view of Hew Locke: The Procession at Tate Britain (photo Aditya Iyer/Hyperallergic)

A glorious procession of fabric and forms, this dynamic presentation captures why the work of Hew Locke resonates today, as he grapples with difficult questions, including those around colonialism, in a friendly manner that draws you into the conversation. His art always steps back from the didactic, while offering enough to feed your curiosity. He’s also an artist who understands how the internet works, and his sculptural work is ripe for distribution on the streams of data that we navigate daily. —HV

Tate Britain, UK (tate.org.uk)
March 22, 2022–January 22, 2023
Curated by Elena Crippa and Clarrie Wallis with Bilal Akkouche, Hannah Marsh, and Dana Moreno


41. Julie Buffalohead’s Noble Coyotes

Julie Buffalohead, “All Are Welcome” (2022), oil on canvas, overall: 60 x 124 inches (photo Rik Sferra; courtesy the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco)

Julie Buffalohead’s seven oil paintings and nine ink drawings from 2022 in Noble Coyotes are full of animals — coyotes, rabbits, otters, muskrats, and snakes — which could be described as whimsical and funny. And they are. But they are also poignant, telling stories about how people want to be accepted but without actually sacrificing anything (“All Are Welcome Here”), stereotyping Indigenous people (“Antihero” and “Noble Savage”), and care, maternal and otherwise (“Isle of Dogs”). Her colorful paintings are entrancing, and her ink drawings, evoking childhood memories, are reminiscent of a storybook. —Emily Wilson

Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco (jessicasilvermangallery.com)
November 10–December 23, 2022
Organized by the gallery


42. Xaviera Simmons: Crisis Makes a Book Club

A view of two of Xaviera Simmons’s “Gallery 6 Figures” (2022) at the Queens Museum (photo Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

I’m always impressed with Xaviera Simmons’s ability to condense complicated ideas into deceivingly simple forms and images. A large black box (“Align,” 2022) dominates the Skylight Gallery of the museum in this show, and it is covered with large blocky white letters written from the perspective of White European settlers. Inside the box, there are various videos that evoke nature and in one case a courtyard at the Vatican Museum, which quietly asserts the artist’s perspective that this is not only about the US but also about a system-wide transformation she dreams of. Her “Gallery 6 Figures, No. 1, No. 2, No. 3” (2022) demonstrates she is also a wonderful object maker, using a wide range of artistic languages to create these curious forms that are in dialogue with art history but never subsumed by it. The show also includes many spaces for rest and reflection, because (my guess) the artist knows very well that most of what she is asking us to examine is so ingrained in our culture that maybe we all need to take a moment to process it all. —HV

Queens Museum (queensmuseum.org)
October 2– March 5, 2023
Organized by Lindsey Berfond, assistant curator and studio program manager, and Hitomi Iwasaki, curator and head of exhibitions.


43. Passages: Sculpture by Liu Shiming

Artist Liu Shiming (right) with clay maquette for his sculpture “Cutting Through Mountains to Bring in Water” (1958) (courtesy Godwin-Ternbach Museum and Liu Shiming Foundation)

Sinophobic violence reached a fever pitch in New York over the last year, making it evermore necessary to uplift a positive Chinese cultural image. For that reason, Godwin-Ternbach’s summer retrospective dedicated to the late sculptor Liu Shiming was a welcome counterweight. Bringing together dozens of bronze and clay compositions across six decades, Passages exemplified Liu’s role as a sculptor of the people. From his Communist Party commissions to intimate family portraits and allegories for his own disability, Liu helped shape a post-revolution culture centered around the sacrifices of everyday workers. His mastery of the human form often defied Cold War-era binaries in its synthesis of figuration and abstraction, making Passages a fascinating reconsideration of an eminent Chinese Modernist. —Billy Anania

Godwin-Ternbach Museum, Queens (gtmuseum.org)
July 6–August 18, 2022
Organized by the museum


44. Vanessa German, Sad Rapper

Installation view of Vanessa German: Sad Rapper at Kasmin gallery (photo Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

As inspiring as this exhibition was with its aesthetic of accumulation and sculptures that seem to reflect Vanessa German’s own childhood and history, it was the labels that made me really appreciate the show as she infused personal poetry that made each work truly sing. To give you but one example, the list of materials for the sculpture the show is named after reads, “wood, tar, 75 pounds of old blue jeans, the blues, sorrow, cuz in 1983 rappers could be bad but could not be sad — or gay, holiness, salt, a groan, tears, African blue and white cloth, love, meanness, the way that it feels to need to cry but not be able to cry — for an exceptionally long time, convinced of muscle instead of tenderness, grief, yarn, twine, loneliness, old blue bed sheets, heartbreak and lying about it, canvas, prayer beads, shame, black pigment, delusion, love, love, love, you gonna be ok ni$$a, you ain’t alone homie, it’s ok, just go’on ahead and be broken for a little while, shit~ life is hard sometimes, red and white paint, foam, ptsd, glue, plaster, heat.” Emotionally poignant, clever, and insightful. German continues to peel away what we come to expect from art to reveal new depths of meaning that can be unexpected. —HV

Kasmin (kasmingallery.com)
September 8–October 22, 2022
Organized by the gallery


45. Jayson Musson: His History of Art

Jayson Musson: His History of Art video still (all photos Isabella Segalovich/Hyperallergic)

Ten years ago, Jayson Musson set the art world ablaze with his viral YouTube series “ART THOUGHTZ.” Through a persona named Hennesy Youngman, he gave deadpan “advice” on how to make it in the art world with helpful tips like “be white.” A decade later, Musson has shed his baseball caps, donned a custom corduroy suit, and set up shop at the Fabric Workshop with his landmark show His History of Art. In a series of three videos, he leads a power-hungry pothead bunny rabbit pal through the frenetic world of televised art history which is entirely confounding — in the best way. Musson plays a new character “Jay,” a sniveling and pretentious art historian surrounded by puppets and overly theatrical human actors. Visitors can lounge on cushions on the ground, couches against the wall, and wander into a detailed behind-the-scenes exhibition, complete with the actual set where they filmed the show. And most importantly, as I’ve been told, they feel comfortable enough to laugh out loud. A decade after his breakthrough success, Musson continues to show new ways to explore art history through video — a valuable experiment in the age of independent educators on TikTok and YouTube. —IS

The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM), Philadelphia (fabricworkshopandmuseum.org)
July 22–December 31, 2022
Organized by Project Coordinator Avery Lawrence and Interim Director of Exhibitions Alec Unkovic in collaboration with the artist, and was initiated by the originating curator, Karen Patterson, FWM’s former Director of Exhibitions


46. Nep Sidhu: Paradox of Harmonics

Multidisciplinary is too small a word for Paradox of Harmonics by Nep Sidhu, the first US solo show for the Toronto-based artist. The installation combines sound, sculpture, video, quilting, and painting in an expansive and hypnotic exploration that reflects on the concepts of collective consciousness and tenets of the artist’s Sikh upbringing. Through visual and aural compositions that nod to Sun Ra’s influence on the artist, and featuring a sonic sculpture made in partnership with Craig Huckaby (brother of the late DJ and iconic producer of Detroit House music, Mike Huckaby), Sidhu’s stated intention is to “engage the praxis of Black Classical Music.” But the experience is ultimately more open-ended. With this blend of media, Paradox of Harmonics is an exhibition with many handholds and points of entry, allowing the viewer to wayfind by sight, sound, movement, figuration, abstraction, and more. It’s an immersive experience, within which each visitor is called to find their own point of resonance and harmony. —Sarah Rose Sharp 

Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (mocadetroit.org)
April 22–September 11, 2022
Curated by Jova Lynne with curatorial and exhibition support from Maceo Keeling, M.Pofahl, Zeb Smith, and Dino Valdez


47. 52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone

52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, June 6, 2022–January 8, 2023, left: Kiyan Williams, “Sentient Ruin 7” (2022), right: LJ Roberts, “Anywhere, Everywhere” (2022), outdoors: Alice Aycock, “Untitled Cyclone” (2017) (photo by Jason Mandella, courtesy The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

Revisiting a classic (and largely forgotten) feminist art exhibition curated by Lucy Lippard is no mean feat. In this case, the proposal brought up many questions about who is archived in various collections and which artists get omitted, and why. During this curatorial process, the organizers realized that a few of the artists in the original 1971 exhibition were impossible to track down, but the best part is that not only were they able to resurface this show, but the team expanded it to include even more artists that will become part of the ever-expanding body of knowledge this show first articulated. Kudos to a team who not only contributed to our art-historical understanding of a very important art moment and movement, but pushed the envelope in new and interesting ways (nonbinary artists were also included in the newest iteration). As Alexis Clements noted in her review of the exhibition, “The legacy of Lippard’s refusal to pigeonhole artists is very much felt in the 2022 exhibition. It also resonates with the ongoing tension between the ways we are identified and classified in society and the way we ourselves inhabit and/or refuse to inhabit those classifications. This show — both the original 1971 and the 2022 expansion — are fantastic meditations on that essential paradox.” I love a show that explores a good paradox. —HV

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut (thealdrich.org)
June 6, 2022–January 8, 2023
Curated by Amy Smith-Stewart and Alexandra Schwartz with Caitlin Monachino


48. Cheech Collects

Frank Romero, “The Arrest of the Paleteros” (1996) (courtesy the Cheech Marin Collection)

When the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture opened earlier this year, it marked a milestone for a group of artists who have long been underrepresented in American museums. The Center houses the collection of the iconic actor and comedian Marin — half of stoner-comedy duo Cheech & Chong — who began acquiring work by Chicano artists in the mid-1980s. Curated by María Esther Fernández and Todd Wingate, the opening exhibition, Cheech Collects, reflects the breadth and diversity of his 700-work collection, featuring seminal art collectives like Los Four and ASCO, alongside younger artists including Vincent Valdez and Candelario Aguilar, Jr. The museum’s first temporary show, a dazzling retrospective of glass works by the de la Torre brothers organized by the Smithsonian Latino Center, crosses geographic borders between the US and Mexico as well as artistic ones between craft and fine art. The promise of The Cheech lies in not only canonizing Chicano art, long denied institutional recognition, but in showcasing its expansive potential. —Matt Stromberg

The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture, Riverside, California (riversideartmuseum.org)
June 18, 2022–May 14, 2023
Organized by the museum


49. Velvet Terrorism: Pussy Riot’s Russia

An image from Pussy Riot’s infamous “Punk Prayer” performance (image courtesy Gregory Volk)

Just prior to the opening, the artist-run gallery’s website was hacked, undoubtedly by pro-Putin, anti-Ukraine Russians. That’s one measure of how consequential this brilliantly curated, first-ever art exhibition by Pussy Riot really is. Colorful, sound-filled wall installations featuring short videos, photographs, handwritten texts, and jagged titles (rock-and-roll rawness abounds) form an immersive, labyrinthine timeline of Pussy Riot’s remarkable actions and their political significance. The right show at the right time, and in Iceland to boot. —Gregory Volk

Kling & Bang, Reykjavík, Iceland
November 24, 2022–January 15, 2023
Created in collaboration with TBA21 Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary

50. Ragnar Kjartansson’s There’s a song in my heart and a hammer in my brain


This exhibition debuted Ragnar Kjartansson’s (together with choreographer Margrét Bjarnadóttir and composer Bryce Dessner) transfixing video installation No Tomorrow (2022). Encircling the room, six large screens displayed a flowing, panoramic performance by eight identically clad female Icelandic dancers strumming acoustic guitars and occasionally singing. The installation is mournful, joyful, ironic (recalling song and dance routines from the movies) and achingly gorgeous. I went once, then again, then again and again. Many others did too. —GV

Luhring Augustine Chelsea
October 29–December 17, 2022
Organized by the gallery

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A sarcophagus found beneath the floor slabs of the Paris church belonged to Antoine de la Porte, who provided financial contributions for the cathedral’s choir.

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