The contemporary art market reached a fever pitch in 2012, with record-breaking sales occurring around the world at auctions and art fairs alike. While that may have more to do with economics, we couldn't help but notice the astounding amount of compelling art prompting us to take note this year. From photographs of the wild by Alaskan fisherman Corey Arnold to Chris Milk and Aaron Koblin's interactive digital woodlands at the Tate Modern, we whittled down our list of favorites to a mere eight for a quick look at some of the most outstanding artists and exhibitions of 2012.
Bauhaus: Art as Life
London's Barbican Art Gallery offered an extensive look at Bauhaus—the U.K.'s largest exhibit on the school in four decades—with a 400-piece show covering a wide swathe of topics. We spoke to curator Catherine Ince who gave us insight on how its historic design influence and socially oriented attitude remains relevant today.
Our interview with self-taught tintype photographer Ian Ruhter exposed his meticulous process and the journey behind making the largest wet-plate print ever. "Even though everyone was telling me that it was impossible, I believed I could do it," he told us of his technique, which involves using an ultra-rare lens and custom-built plates.
To The Power Of
We've been impressed with Jen Stark's labor-intensive work since coming across it in 2008. We finally had the opportunity to catch up with the Miami native at her studio in LA this year, where she shed light on her overall practice as well as her recent psychedelic math-inspired show, "To The Power Of."
Corey Arnold has been fishing for about as long as he's been taking photos. Every summer Arnold runs a commercial salmon fishing boat in Bristol Bay, Alaska, obsessively documenting the grueling nature of "fish-work" with an unrivaled sensibility. Days before his Portland show "Graveyard Point," Arnold gave us a personal glimpse into the soulful world of men at sea.
Looking to shake up the context of art as we know it, Audio Tour Hack recruited a posse of kids to provide their own special commentary for their candid venture, "MoMA Unadulterated." Their clever take on the guided audio tour allowed guests to hear the insights of children on 30 of the museum's permanent works by artists like Pollock, Lichtenstein and Warhol.
This Exquisite Forest
Building upon their digitally groundbreaking video for Arcade Fire, "The Wilderness Downtown," Chris Milk and Aaron Koblin (head of the Data Arts Team at the Google Creative Lab) joined forces again, creating an interactive digital woodland at London's Tate Modern. We spoke with Koblin who told us for him, creating "This Exquisite Forest" is pretty much "a dream job, for a nerd who's into art."
Celebrated contemporary photographer Alex Prager returned to gallery walls this year with a tri-city exhibition of her new work, a fantastic series called "Compulsion." The compelling solo show included an array of photos that reflect her interest in the emotion expressed solely through a person's eyes, and the powerful foundation they provide for provoking mystery.
Institute of Intimate Museums
In artist Kenji Sugiyama's series, "Institute of Intimate Museums," empty pasta boxes contain lilliputian scenes of museum-goers standing in halls of shrunken art. Using everything from inlaid wood to dated wallpaper, Sugiyama's impeccably detailed interiors are head-scratching for their complexity, and his choice of packaging—that of a post-consumer food containers—likewise had viewers guessing.