Top 10: A Year in New York

Top 10: A Year in New York

Founder of The Two Percent   | show bio

About David Behringer

Founder of The Two Percent, David Behringer is the leading expert on “right now” in the New York contemporary art scene. Visiting over 200 gallery exhibitions a month for nearly 10 years straight, David’s obsession with uncovering and filtering the most unique art in the world on any given day is shared through his popular newsletter, highly rated private tours and new cutting-edge “live” audio tours.

A Seattle native, his move to New York coincided with Chelsea’s gradual transformation into a modern architecture mecca and home of the High Line. With serendipitous timing and an insatiable curiosity for all things creative, his expertise has expanded outside the gallery walls to include the amazing architecture, history, and legends between the galleries.
September 1, 2014

Editor's note

The Two Percent (AKA David Behringer) is the ultimate remedy against art related FOMO. His highly praised private tours are famous, and his popular weekly what-not-to-miss newsletter is an absolute must if you live in New York. This season things are getting even more interesting with the launch of his experimental (and highly recommended) live audio tours that will take you on a Stendhal-inducing trip around Chelsea, the art gallery district of New York.

But it gets even better. Because we’re giving away 10 FREE AUDIO TOURS. All you need to do is either tweet this exhibition @curiator with the hashtag #thetwopercent, or share our Facebook post with the same hashtag, and that before September 15, 2014.

Meanwhile, we asked David to share his favorite shows from last season.

Every year, New York City hosts over 3000 contemporary art gallery exhibitions from September through June. August is a welcome break to reflect on the past year and the future of art history. Below are my favorite ten exhibitions from last season in chronological order.

To make the selection process a little less impossible, I gave myself some rules: First, the art had to be created in the last year. Second, the nature of the art had to require visiting it in person (a photograph couldn’t do it justice… which makes curating this exhibition a little ironic). Finally, I limited myself to only ten, an arbitrary number to prevent me from spending over a year organizing this.

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Artist Phil Collins (not the musician) installed private soundproof listening booths at the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, which allowed visitors to literally close themselves off, choose a record at random, and groove to beautiful music with a social undercurrent. Ranging from haunting modern classical to electronic techno beats, the tracks on the approximately ten double-sided records were all written by various musicians inspired by actual recordings from a free long-distance telephone booth that the artists set up in a German homeless shelter.

To create a room of seemingly weightless drawings in space, artist Damián Ortega carefully suspended twisted rebar from the ceiling of the Gladstone Gallery. Visitors weaving between the sculptures could notice something even more amazing: the shadows formed a PERFECT cursive alphabet on the floor. The impressive craftsmanship—each piece was hammered by hand—served as a reminder to the importance and artistry of construction workers, while also revealing the paradoxical nature of written language: the slightest shift of perspective can transform it from being clear and communicative to completely abstract and arbitrary.

Sculptor Richard Serra occupied both Gagosian Gallery locations in Chelsea. On 21st Street, massive sections of curved Corten steel formed a rust-colored maze. Space and gravity seemed to bend in the narrow passageways, as you encountered tilting curves and ever-shifting natural light. Equally impressive was the physics-defying feat of engineering. Each S-shaped curve was made of several sections of steel, which stood independently without the slightest gaps, and appeared to lean impossibly beyond their own center of gravity.

At Gagosian’s 24th Street location, Richard Serra presented 7 enormous plates of steel, each 8 inches thick, 8 feet tall, 40 feet long, and weighing 51 tons!!! Zigzagging through the gallery, the sublime sculpture allowed visitors to compress their personal space by walking into each of the six different angles.

Yayoi Kusama’s blockbuster exhibition at David Zwirner Gallery included 2 “infinity rooms”. With mirrored walls, floor, & ceiling, the largest room held inflatable color-shifting polka-dot tentacles.

Part 2 of Yayoi Kusama’s exhibition at David Zwirner Gallery produced an unbelievable three to six hour line during the final weeks of the exhibition. However, the wait to see this room, which was mirrored on all sides with a water-flooded floor and held dozens of twinkling lights that, when reflected, multiplied into the billions, was well worth it. Only one person at a time was allowed access to the room by standing on a small platform with door closed for 45 seconds of solitude with the universe.

There’s more than one way to see forever. Doug Wheeler created another incredible taste of infinity at David Zwirner Gallery. Wheeler rounded the walls and ceiling of a large room and installed a raised circular platform in the middle. The walls, which were lit from underneath the platform so as to produce no shadows, gave no point of focus, no indication of depth or distance, and created the effect of gazing into an infinity of white nothingness.

The most technologically advanced work of art I’ve seen to date was Jordan Wolfson’s far-too-real animatronic dancing woman/monster at David Zwirner Gallery. The robot’s lifelike movements were impressive, but the sculpture also incorporated precise facial recognition technology that allowed her (it?) to make uncomfortably real eye contact. The two-viewer limit (reservations required) intensified the amazement and discomfort of this highly personal “performance”.

The most secret show of the year was open only to those who knew it existed beyond the unmarked door in the Lower East Side. Located inside a defunct graffiti-covered Chase Bank, bronze sculptures by Urs Fischer appeared like they were recently crafted from wet clay. Half of the fun was seeing rooms of a bank that are normally hidden from public view: behind the teller counter, in the manager’s office, and into various safe rooms, each filled with surprising and whimsical sculptures.

At Metro Pictures, Robert Longo reproduced famous abstract expressionist paintings to scale, using only charcoal on paper. Every drip, smear, and signature was so precisely duplicated that it felt like you were looking at works by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, and others in grayscale. As an added bonus, the fragile drawings held NO protective glass, which (in addition to increasing security personnel) allowed the black charcoal to be viewed in all its deep, velvety, glare-free glory.

Oscar Murillo is one of the fastest rising stars on the market today. The 28 year-old artist’s paintings are selling at auction for nearly $400K. His first solo show in New York at the David Zwirner Gallery defied expectations by showing exactly ZERO paintings. Instead, he transformed the gallery into a fully functioning chocolate factory. Equipment and workers were flown in from Columbia to produce packaged chocolate-covered marshmallows on the spot, which were free to observe, taste, and carry home by the dozens. (I still have some).

Tara Donovan closed out the amazing year at Pace Gallery with two unbelievable sculptures made from countless tiny parts. MILLIONS of index cards were glued and stacked to create the first piece, a wondrous grouping of towering formations.

Donovan’s second work at Pace Gallery was assembled from thousands of clear acrylic rods, which were glued into a massive, prickly, and fragile mass that sparkled with refracted light.