2023 Year in Review: Unframed

Peruse some of 2023’s most interesting finds from Manhattan’s Modern Art scene as told through the experience of David Behringer, Design Milk’s art correspondent. His finds showcase some of the city’s freshest exhibitions, shows, and public works. From contemporized classics to crystal lenses to metal paint-skins, continue on for a recap of this year’s visual tour with access granted by our Unframed column.

12.19.23 | By
2023 Year in Review: Unframed

Evan Nesbit Pushes Paint in New Directions

For a little saccharine eye candy take a look at artist Evan Nesbit’s textured paintings that beckon viewers for a visual taste. His unusual technique reinterprets the relationship between material and canvas while questioning what the “front” could be. Marbled and Bewildered was his third solo exhibition at Van Doren Waxter gallery and New Yorkers are hungry for more.

Numbers and Trees: Charleston Series 1, Tree #8, Sage Way, 2022 (detail)

Charles Gaines’ Colorful Pixelation of Southern Trees

Charles Gaines’ Southern Trees exhibition, previously on view at Hauser & Wirth Gallery, sparked joy for those who were able to see it. Upon subsequent visits, patrons were able to delve deeper into the visuals, discovering new readings and moments of connection. While each artwork can stand alone as an individual composition, the series together in context tells a greater story.

The massive work "What we re-quire is... silence"

What we re-quire is / silence, 2023

Kennedy Yanko’s Poetic Fusion of Metal and “Paint Skin”

Brooklyn-based artist Kennedy Yanko’s exhibition Humming on Life presented 10 new artworks on view at Jeffery Deitch. She uses salvaged metal and blanket-like “paint skins” to create artworks that challenge the definition of painting through a range of oppositions. Dichotomy of material is explored through the fabric-like folds and crushed-metal dents as paint alters perception.

Richter's dark purple abstraction from 2016

Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild (Abstract Painting), 2016

Gerhard Richter Surprises the Art World Again

Famed painter Gerhard Richter announced his retirement from painting in 2017 setting off a chain of events that led to a celebration of his work with a selection of “final paintings” at David Zwirner Gallery. The main attraction was his artistic re-invention exhibiting 76 drawings completed from 2021-2022 and sculptures produced this year. It is truly a cause for jubilation.

A open gallery space with cylindrical, transparent colored sculptures.

Fred Eversley, “Cylindrical Lenses” at David Kordansky Gallery, New York, 2023

Bending Perception: Surprising New Sculptures by Fred Eversley

Fred Eversley’s gem-like sculptures stood tall like crystal stalagmites in Cylindrical Lenses when on view at the David Kordansky Gallery. Measuring up to 9-feet-tall and made from highly-translucent resin, the collection of objects exists somewhere between the physical and the ethereal. The forms also function like massive magnifiers that visually liquify, layer, and tint visitors who walk past.

Colorful field of black and yellow polkadot installasions clustered filling the room

Installation view, Yayoi Kusama: I Spend Each Day Embracing Flowers, David Zwirner, New York, May 11—July 21, 2023 © YAYOI KUSAMA, Courtesy of David Zwirner

Yayoi Kusama’s Current Exhibition Offers a New Infinity

The 94-year-old Kusama presented a grandiose version of her 2013 Infinity Room, which included a dazzling exhibition of polka-dotted pumpkin walls, towering flowers, and new abstract paintings. The fresh show, I Spend Each Day Embracing Flowers, was on view at David Zwirner Gallery.

Two white perpendicular pedestals showing 15 tiny vessels of various colors and textures

Installation view, Doyle Lane: Weed Pots, David Kordansky Gallery, New York. \\\ Photo: Phoebe d’Heurle, courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery

4 Must-See Art Exhibitions in New York This Summer

While the summer was a quieter time for patron traffic, exceptional works were still on view. Innovative art and visual stimuli elicited curiosity from viewers into the methods and madness that inspired these four artists. Doyle Lane: Weed Pots at David Kordansky Gallery celebrated the influential figure’s impact on studio ceramics with his tectonic pots. Ann Veronica Janssen’s Structural Color series showcased the optical possibilities of glass at Bortolami Gallery. Group show Plastic Stars at Tara Downs Gallery comprises an international set of female-identifying artists whose artwork shares intriguing visual “plasticity.” And one of the most beguiling exhibitions was Harry Gould Harvey IV’s at PPOW Gallery.

Giant letters framed by Brooklyn Bridge

Nicholas Galanin, In every language there is Land / En cada lengua hay una Tierra, 2023

2 Exciting Outdoor Artworks in New York This Summer

Public works of art are some of Manhattan’s best forms of entertainment – and they’re free! Nicholas Galanin’s 30-foot steel sculpture In every language there is Land / En cada lengua hay una Tierra was an engaging, site-specific work at Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn, where it was framed by infrastructure and set against the city skyline. Presented by Public Art Fund, four giant glyphs spelled out “LAND” in a format that referenced Robert Indiana’s famous “LOVE” design. Having used the same material and dimension as the US-Mexico border wall, it’s made a powerful statement.

Dozens of colorful patterned paper cirlces

Jacob Hashimoto, In order to get the self-destruct mechanism started, 2023 (detail)

Beautiful Glitches: Jacob Hashimoto’s New “Kite” Works

Jacob Hashimoto’s exhibition The Disappointment Engine was anything but a disappointment while on view at the Miles McEnery Gallery, which presented 11 new works including a massive wall-to-wall, cloud-like installation upon entry. His kite-constructed works have captivated viewers for nearly three decades with meticulous hand-craftsmanship to manufacture a digital optical effect reminiscent of pixels. His wall works often consist of six suspended layers of circular paper and bamboo “kites” that obscure as much as they reveal, shifting with every change in gaze.

Visitor stands among 3 massive yellow sculptures

Ugo Rondinone: bright light shining. Gladstone Gallery New York

Solid Lightning: Ugo Rondinone’s Stunning New Sculpture

Ugo Rondinone debuted his astounding Bright Light Shining sculptures at Gladstone Gallery. Made from bright yellow painted bronze, each of the three roughly 20-foot-tall objects ignited surprising contrasts between the natural and unnatural while twisting perceptions of material, time, and scale.  The large skylight and gray walls subverted the viewers sense of time to allow for the perception of a phenomena that naturally occurs in the blink of an eye.

Flower pedals on the ground, illuminated with color

Tent-Camera Image on Ground: View of Monet’s Garden #3, Giverny, France, 2023

Abelardo Morell Invites You to Stand in the Shadow of Monet

Each photograph in Abelardo Morell’s “Tent-camera Photographs” presented at Edwin Hook Gallery featured in the New Ground exhibition placed you in the actual footsteps of Monet and Van Gogh, to reveal the ground on which these artists stood, combined with a contemporized view from that spot. Morell’s signature photographic technique produced a wondrous new way of seeing the world, and offered a fresh new perspective of the legendary artists.

Check out the rest of Design Milk’s end of the year coverage here!

With professional degrees in architecture and journalism, Joseph has a desire to make living beautifully accessible. His work seeks to enrich the lives of others with visual communication and storytelling through design. A regular contributor to titles under the SANDOW Design Group, including Luxe and Metropolis, Joseph serves the Design Milk team as their Managing Editor. When not practicing, he teaches visual communication, theory, and design. The New York-based writer has also contributed to exhibitions hosted by the AIA New York’s Center for Architecture and Architectural Digest, and recently published essays and collage illustrations with Proseterity, a literary publication.