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Dec 15, 2010
2010 has been an interesting year for the arts. From the web to the canvas to the parade route, many artists challenged and inspired us in multimedia formats. Here are the things we found to be Character Approved this year:
1. Murakami's Balloons at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
With its marching bands and Broadway show tunes, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade isn't normally an event that one would connect with the fine art world. But this year, the highlight of the parade was two new balloons created by the legendary Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami. Representing his iconic characters Kaikai and Kiki, the balloons towered over spectators lined up on the Manhattan streets on Thanksgiving Day. But certainly the most memorable moment for us was seeing Murakami himself, dressed in a full flower costume, riding the float beneath his massive balloons, waving to the crowd with a huge grin on his face.
2. Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop.
Who would have thought that the indie film hit of the year would be a low-budget documentary produced and directed by an anonymous British street artist? But when Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop hit American theaters this past April, it quickly became the most talked about film of the summer. And now, as the movie industry heads into the all important awards season, the buzz tells us that the film may very well be nominated for the biggest prize of all, an Academy Award.
3. The Selby is in Your Place.
Known for his popular photography blog of incredibly clever and vibrant portraits of creative people photographed amongst their things in their homes, Todd Selby released one of our favorite photography books this year, The Selby is in Your Place. But what we love most about this incredibly inspiring book is actually not the photographs (which are indeed wonderful), but rather the hand-drawn illustrated questionnaires that each subject fills out before modeling.
4. Mary Ellen Mark and Martin Bell's Latest Collaboration, Prom.
In July of this year at the LA Shorts Fest, the legendary still photographer Mary Ellen Mark and her husband, the documentary filmmaker Martin Bell, debuted Prom, their highly anticipated collaboration that includes interviews with 76 high school seniors on their prom night. Shot over a four-year period in high schools across the United States, the short film showcases Mark's stunning 20 x 24 inch black-and-white Polaroids portraits. Similar to her groundbreaking Twins series, what makes Mark's latest project so captivating are the fascinating pairings and unusual poses that she captures on camera.
5. Faile at the Perry Rubenstein Gallery.
Faile, a Brooklyn based artist collective, mounted one of the most accomplished and talked about gallery shows this year in New York. With their multi-layered, screen-printed block painting, Faile displayed a level of craft and dedication that you don't often see in the Chelsea galleries. The highlight of the show was a piece called Sub Rosa, the beauty and complexity of which was mesmerizing.
6. Marina Abramović at MoMA.
The most talked about museum show of 2010 was most certainly "Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present" which involved the iconoclastic Hungarian performance artist sitting silently across a wooden table from a steady stream of MoMA visitors for hours and hours on end. What could on the surface be perceived as one of the dullest and most uninteresting of experiences you could imagine turned out to be just the opposite. Streamed live on the Internet via MoMA's website, the event captured raw emotions rarely seen in a museum or gallery setting.
7. JR Wins The TED Prize.
JR, one of the world's most talented street artists, became the unexpected and surprise winner of this year's TED Prize, putting him alongside a short list of past luminaries that include Bill Clinton and Bono. What makes JR's work so deserving of the award is the passion and commitment he makes as an artist. Through his work he touches a deep emotional cord that reminds us that we are all human.
8. NY Art Book Fair.
With lines winding around the block, the attendance at this year's NY Art Book Fair absolutely blew us away. It proved that while digital publishing is being positioned as the only hope for the book world, the hand-crafted, unique elements of artisan books are still thriving. With over 200 publishers, presses, artists and dealers displaying zines, photography books, and limited edition art books, it all came to life this November in the cavernous MoMA PS1 building in Queens.
9. RE:FORM School, a REDU Project.
The art world gathered together this fall to raise awareness of the state of American Public Schools at RE:FORM School. Taking over an abandoned school in New York's NoLita district, artists contributed hundreds of works creating an amazing gallery inside the schoolrooms. Dance classes were conducted by Lupe Fiasco, and Faile taught screen printing as a reminder of the importance of art in schools. The courtyard came to life with a 250' mural by WK Interact which featured young scholars from the Harlem Success Academy.
10. Banksy Re-Imagines the Simpson's "Couch Gag" Sequence.
Complete creative freedom is difficult for artists to obtain these days, especially on network television. However, Banksy--in complete secrecy--was given just that when he took over the opening sequence of The Simpsons in early October. In what is commonly referred to as the "couch gag," Banksy satirized everything from the show itself to the making of DVDs and animation cells in South Korea. Complete with chained starving unicorns, the short sequence made us all a bit uneasy--exactly what a great artist does. Having two Banksy submissions in our top ten is rare, but this year he deserved it.
[Images: NYTimes.com, Banksy, The Selby, Mary Ellen Mark, Perry Rubenstein, JR Art, NY Art Book Fair, RE:FORM, NY Daily News]