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The Top 10 Shows in the US of 2022

‘What could this much mass despair and revolutionary strength look like,’ Margaret Kross wrote in her review of the 58th Carnegie International in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, ‘except for a magnitude exceeding individual comprehension?’ The exhibitions rounded up here are characteristic of important themes in American art today – including efforts to de-centre the US. ‘Women at War’, a collaboration between New York’s Fridman Gallery and the Voloshyn Gallery in Kyiv, Ukraine, showcased work by Ukrainian women, some of which was made after Russia’s invasion earlier this year. Carolyn Lazard’s solo show at the Walker Art Center considered themes of gender, race and disability through a cleverly discursive installation on dance. Other exhibitions centred tender pictures of friends, families and strangers, whether in Wolfgang Tillman’s photographic mode or Gideon Appah’s fantastical paintings. Here are – in no particular order – some of the strongest shows of 2022 from across the United States.

‘Is it morning for you yet?: 58th Carnegie International’
Carnegie Museum of Art
Pittsburgh, USA

The longest-running exhibition of art in North America returned this year with its 58th edition, combining pieces from international collections with new work. Curated by Sohrab Mohebbi, the plaintive yet hopeful title of the exhibition – ‘Is it morning for you yet?’ – is borrowed from a Mayan Kaqchikel expression for ‘good morning’. It’s a fitting title to anchor a show that spans time zones, histories and geographies to untangle the ugly effects of US imperialism. I was particularly struck by Pio Abad’s dive into the Carnegie Museum’s history, echoing the visual language of the museum’s facade as he reproduced a letter in which the museum’s founding patron and namesake, Andrew Carnegie, sought to purchase the Philippines for US$20 million. The plethora of micro-shows, often guest curated, renders this edition particularly successful. Hyphen –’s section introduced me, and I imagine many others, to the lyrical paintings of the late Indonesian artist Kustiyah, while Kross was compelled by works from the collection of Fereydoun Ave, including, she writes, ‘sumptuous kitchen still-lives by Leyly Matine-Daftary, who… “transformed her home into a sort of bohemian haven”’.  

‘52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone’
Aldrich Museum of Art
Ridgefield, USA

In 1971, Lucy Lippard curated the groundbreaking ‘Twenty Six Contemporary Women Artists’ exhibition at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, presenting a survey of emerging artists working in New York City. More than 50 years later, many of those ‘emerging’ artists have now gained international acclaim: Lippard’s checklist included Alice Aycock, Howardena Pindell and Adrian Piper. ‘52 Artists’ – also at the Aldrich – includes some reprisals: Piper and Pindell contribute works they exhibited decades before, but also new pieces that track the development of art through their individual practices. In her review of the show, Erica N. Cardwell points out that Pindell’s Carnival, Bahia Brazil (2017), which consists of ‘cut-and-sewn canvas with disparate yet connected lines dotted across an energetic lavender palette’, traces a clear trajectory from her seminal Untitled (1968–70), in which stuffed and rolled canvases ‘elevated the concept of “work in progress” into a radical new take on sculpture’. Among emerging contemporary artists, Cardwell was struck by LaKela Brown’s Composition with 35 Golden Doorknocker Impressions (2021), which, she writes, ‘disrupts an artworld that remains predominantly white by imprinting an array of doorknocker earrings – an aspect of Black American cultural aesthetics – in white plaster, then picking out 35 in saturated gold, restoring its polished sheen’.