The Best Art of 2012

Voice critics pick their favorite shows from the past year

Huma Bhabha: "Unnatural Histories" (MOMA P.S.1, through April 1). The year' best solo exhibition by a soon-to-be-major artist. Creating Promethean works by way of Constantin Brancusi and chain saw carving, this assemblage sculptor manages to represent contemporary man's tragic flaws by making art from our own toxic leavings. A triumph of vision and resourcefulness.

Rineke Dijkstra: "A Retrospective" (Guggenheim Museum). Dijkstra's first solo U.S. museum outing, this show featured her characteristically compassionate and revealing photo and video portraits of young people in transition. This artist's still and moving images generously illustrate that there's more to truth than just the facts.

The New Museum's "Ghosts in the Machine"
Benoit Pailley
The New Museum's "Ghosts in the Machine"
David Hammons's America the Beautiful at MOMA P.S.1's "Now Dig This!"
MOMA P.S.1, Oakland Museum Founders Fund
David Hammons's America the Beautiful at MOMA P.S.1's "Now Dig This!"

"The Ungovernables": 2012 New Museum Triennial (The New Museum). A Great Recession primer on global art attuned to social issues, the exhibition made the navel-gazing Whitney Biennial 2012 look fatuous and ultra-lame. Adventurous, illuminating, and often genuinely risky, this was the one museum show this year that managed to identify the art of our time.

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