With 2023 upon us at last, we’re looking ahead at what we might expect from the year to come. If 2022 was the year of rising stars like Anna Weyant and Christina Quarles, who will be the names to know in the New Year?
To make some predictions, we asked leading critics, curators, artists, and advisors to each pick the one artist they think is poised to make break out in a major way this year.
Here’s who they chose.
Naomi Beckwith, chief curator at the Guggenheim Museum, on Caroline Kent
Installation view: “The Modern Window: Caroline Kent,” Museum of Modern Art, New York. October 29, 2022 – October 2023. Photo: Dan Bradica. Courtesy the artist and Casey Kaplan, New York.
“After making several strong gallery and project presentations, and currently gracing MOMA’s “Modern Window,” Caroline Kent is now in pole position for a strong critical contextualization. Harnessing the palette and deep spatial instincts of the Bauhaus, Kent’s 21st-century abstractions are imbued with a sense of embodiment, wordliness, and clue us in to the relationships between power and language.”
Marilyn Minter, artist, on Tala Madani
Tala Madani, Love Doctor (2015). Collection of Christina Papadopoulou. Photo courtesy Josh White.
“She is irreverent, savage, filthy, and very funny. Plus she is a great animator and painter. I love everything she does. I’ve been following her work for years.”
Barry Schwabsky, art critic,
on Andrea Marie Breiling
Andrea Marie Breiling, Emma (2022). Courtesy of the artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Adam Reich Photography.
“It’s inspiring to see a painter push her work forward as quickly as Andrea Marie Breiling has been doing. I didn’t get to Miami to see her show ‘Ribbons’ at Villa Paula, timed to coincide with the Art Basel Miami fair, but from what I can tell, her spray-painted swoops and swirls have taken even more volume, depth, and drama. The spiritual aspiration of an Agnes Pelton meets the blunt physicality of a Willem de Kooning in a synthesis that’s totally of the moment.”
Augusto Arbizo, art advisor,
on Richard Ayodeji Ikhide
“The Nigerian-born, London-based artist Richard Ayodeji Ikhide has been creating a cosmology of archetypes celebrating object- and image-makers and creators in our society: observers, storytellers, alchemists, artists, and inventors. I discovered Richard’s large-scale watercolor works through the non-profit organization V.O. Curations early in the pandemic, and it has been amazing to see him continue to expand his practice. He just completed a suite of extraordinarily beautiful and complex watercolors for a Victoria Miro Gallery online project, and I think he is definitely an artist to watch!”
One of Hiba Schahbaz’s large-scale oil paintings. Photo courtesy of the artist.
“I have been following Hiba’s work for several years—in full disclosure I do not own any—and her development from works on paper to large oils on canvas is significant. Her use of the female body, particularly through the lens of Pakistani culture and a pivot away from the traditional miniature, is new ground, at to least my eyes. All she needs for her next step in the art world/market is a serious New York-based gallery to help her enter the conversation.”
Allan Schwartzman, art advisor,
on Rafa Esparza
Rafael Esparza, “Shattered Glass,” curated by Melahn Frierson and AJ Girard, Jeffrey Deitch, Los Angeles, (2021)
Photo by Joshua White
“There are three basic ways I think of an artist ‘breaking out:’ in their work, by recognition, or by the attentions of the market. Rafa Esparza, an artist of mature vision and healthy and growing support of museums and private collectors, is likely to become more nationally visible with upcoming exhibitions at New York’s Artist’s Space and the San Francisco Museum of Art. I especially admire his work for its accessibility and truthfulness, for its presence, both commanding and gentle, and for its natural, complex, and essential fusion of the personal and political, and for his propensity to ‘brown the white cube.’ Working in performance, painting, sculpture, and installation, while not beholden to the conventions of any idiom, his work embodies the complexity of identity through the interwoven elements of his identity, while also critiquing conventions of art and society.”
Danielle So, contemporary art specialist at Phillips Hong Kong,
on Xiyao Wang
Xiyao Wang, Arabesque on vert menthe (2021), sold for HK$478,000 ($61,532) at Phillips Hong Kong day sale on November 30, 2022. Courtesy Phillips.
“My pick is Xiyao Wang, a Berlin-based Chinese female artist that was featured in our day sale this season. For me, she is representative of the new generation of abstract painters and you can certainly see parallels of the lyrical quality of Cy Twombly merged with inspiration from global mass culture, electronic music, and all the media that has been of influence to millennials and Gen Z. She primarily works on very large-scale paintings in which there are many gestural elements that evoke landscapes, bodies and movements.”
“I have been following Annie’s work for some time, and have long admired its ability to teeter on the edge between substance and fragility, rendering the highly personal into a universal language of loss. But there is something about her relatively recent use of bronze as one of her primary mediums for her ‘Stack’ sculptures that I feel has elevated her practice to a new level. I loved her entire show at Chateau La Coste this summer, but it was the one outdoor work, a monumental bronze ‘Stack,’ that I feel emphatically declares Annie’s place within contemporary art history. Standing at six meters tall in a grassy field, just across the way from an iconic Louise Bourgeois Spider, the two works seem to be in conversation with each other, the bold declarations of artists of different backgrounds and generations united in their meditations on motherhood and mourning.”
Nazy Vassegh, advisor and founder of Eye of The Collector fair,
on Sara Berman
Sara Berman, Untitled (2022). Photo courtesy of Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery.
“My stand-out artist for 2023 is Sara Berman, a London-based artist who transitioned from a successful fashion career to the art world when she graduated from Slade in 2016 with an MFA in painting. Berman’s background in fashion has influenced her visual arts practice through the use of various textures, layers, mathematical geometry, pattern, and materiality. In her work, Berman examines how people see and define themselves through the relationships with their clothes, belongings, and the spaces they occupy. The character in Sara Berman’s work is inspired by the trope of the female Harlequin in her ascribed role of the Trickster Whore. Through this character, Berman explores space and the role of the feminine within it. I find her works relevant, powerful and evocative of the times we live in.
I first discovered her work at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, where she has two solo shows coming up in 2023 and we will also be unveiling two new works especially created for Eye of the Collector in May 2023.”
Jens-Peter Brask, curator, collector, and publisher,
on Nicholas Koshkosh
Nicholas Koshkosh, Untitled (2020). Photo courtesy of Jens-Peter Brask.
“The artist I predict will have an excellent 2023 is the talented contemporary Ukrainian artist Nicholas Koshkosh (b. 1995). Koshkosh lives and works in Kiev. In recent years, he has gained international recognition for his colorful, figurative, expressive paintings. Koshkosh has found his own unique expression and aesthetic language that spans a multitude of references to biblical narratives, mythical stories and—currently—interpretations of his first-hand experiences and feelings related to the ongoing war and invasion of his home country Ukraine. Old tales are combined with cultural signs from the Slavic regions, fairy tale references and contemporary pop culture elements. Koshkosh’s works are often shaped by an underlying critical attitude toward ongoing political issues. I foresee a bright future for Koshkosh as an artist who artistically provides and creates a space for reflection and immersion in art.”
Debi Wisch, producer of The Price of Everything and The Art of Making It,
on Michaela Yearwood-Dan
Michaela Yearwood-Dan, It’s All Happening, 2021. Photo courtesy of Debi Wisch.
“I was at a show at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art over Thanksgiving featuring work by many of today’s most headline grabbing artists and this was the painting that literally stopped me in my tracks because it is so drop-dead gorgeous, luscious, layered, seductive, and fresh. Then one of my most trusted, intrepid, influential art collector friends mentioned Michaela as someone that I need to know. I have been on a deep dive ever since. She is young, smart, talented and has a visual language that’s unique—and the paintings are stunning.”
Saara Pritchard, partner at Art Intelligence Global,
on Sylvia Sleigh
“As a figurative painter who came to prominence in New York in the 1960s and ’70s, Sleigh is massively undervalued and under-appreciated by the broader collecting world while maintaining a cult figure status among art world cognoscenti. It’s time for people to see her incredible work and learn of her important contributions to painting and the feminist art movement.”
Hera Büyüktaşçıyan, Everflowing Pool of Nectar (detail view) (2017). Courtesy of Green Art Gallery.
“Hera Büyüktaşcıyan has been steadily rising above career milestones, mostly recently with new commissions for the New Museum’s Triennial and the 2022 Biennale of Sydney. Although her works have been acquired by Tate Modern and Centre Pompidou recently, 2023 will mark her first museum solo of new works in a yet-to-be-announced presentation. Watch this space.”
Perturbed when an artist made a digital version of its coveted Birkin handbag with a reproduction of a mature fetus inside it, the luxury fashion brand Hermès watched in shock as other iterations popped up online. A Birkin with mammoth tusks affixed to it. One sporting the Grinch’s shaggy green fur. Others stamped with van Gogh’s “Starry Night” or populated by smiley emojis.
Hermès swiftly sued the artist, Mason Rothschild, over the NFT project he called “MetaBirkins,” arguing that the company’s trademark was being diluted and that potential consumers might be fooled into buying the unaffiliated virtual goods.
The case’s ramifications extended far beyond Hermès. In some of the first litigation to scrutinize the nature of digital assets sold on the blockchain, up for debate was whether NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, are strictly commodities or art shielded by the First Amendment.
On Wednesday, a nine-person federal jury in Manhattan determined that Rothschild had infringed on the company’s trademark rights and awarded Hermès $133,000 in total damages. The jurors also found that his NFTs were not protected speech.
Rothschild’s defeat was a major blow for the NFT market, which has often described itself as part of the creator economy. But the jury determined that MetaBirkins were more similar to commodities, which are subject to strict trademark laws that prevent copycats, than to artworks where appropriation is protected.
In a statement after the verdict, Hermès said it was compelled to act to protect consumers and the integrity of its brand. “Hermès is a house of creation, craftsmanship and authenticity which has supported artists and freedom of expression since its founding,” it said.
One of Rothschild’s lawyers, Rhett Millsaps II, called it a “great day for big brands” and a “terrible day for artists and the First Amendment.”
Rothschild criticized the jury, the justice system and a luxury fashion house that he said was emboldened to determine who qualified as an artist.
“What happened today was wrong,” he said in a statement. “What happened today will continue to happen if we don’t continue to fight.”
The verdict could provide some guidance for brand owners, said Megan Noh, an art lawyer unaffiliated with the case, “about the line between works of artistic expression and commercial goods.”
What to Know About NFTs
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What is an NFT? A nonfungible token, or NFT, is a digital asset that establishes authenticity and ownership and can be verified on a blockchain network. It is a way to claim ownership of a digital file and is comparable to a certificate of authenticity you might get if you buy a sculpture.
How did NFTs become so popular? The technology for NFTs has been around since the mid-2010s but became mainstream in late 2017 with CryptoKitties, a site that allowed people to buy and “breed” limited-edition digital cats with cryptocurrency.
Why do artists care about NFTs? NFTs make digital artworks unique and, therefore, sellable. Artists, musicians, influencers and sports franchises can use them to monetize digital goods that were previously cheap or free. The technology also responds to the art world’s need for authentication in an increasingly digital world, permanently linking a digital file to its creator.
Birkin bags, named after the actress Jane Birkin, are made by hand and take specialized artisans a minimum of 18 hours to make. Hermès does not disclose how many of the bags it has made since they were first created in 1984, but some researchers of luxury goods have estimated that there are now more than a million Birkins in the market. In 2021, the auction house Sotheby’s sold a Birkin for more than $226,000.
Rothschild had plans to create 1,000 MetaBirkins, which he has described as an “ironic nod” to the renowned brand, but only 100 have been released since the project began in 2021.
Each was priced at $450, and Rothschild also received 7.5 percent of secondary sales. Hermès has claimed in court filings that MetaBirkins reached about $1.1 million in total sales volume. Rothschild has estimated that he made about $125,000 from the NFTs, including the initial sales and royalties.
“What we see in the Hermès case is how emerging technologies and historic, age-old brands collide,” said Ari Redbord, head of legal and government affairs at TRM Labs, a blockchain analytics firm.
Over the past decade, the French company’s Birkin collection has steadily generated $100 million in sales each year. In recorded testimony played during the trial, Robert Chavez, president and chief executive of Hermès of Paris, said he was not aware of any revenue that the company lost because of MetaBirkins.
During opening arguments in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Oren Warshavsky, a lawyer representing Hermès, argued that MetaBirkins confused consumers who thought they were connected to the fashion brand.
“The reason for these sales was the Birkin name,” he said.
Rothschild’s legal team questioned whether people wealthy enough to afford Birkins, which cost thousands of dollars and often have yearslong wait lists, would be genuinely misled by his art project.
Millsaps also argued that the NFTs were art that was protected under the First Amendment as free speech. The lawyer said Birkins were a “cultural symbol of rarefied wealth and status,” ripe for artists to explore as metaphors of consumerism.
“Art doesn’t exist in a vacuum — it’s often about context,” he said.
Blockchain assets like MetaBirkins were part of the financial boom-and-bust cycle in cryptocurrencies over the past few years. At the market’s height there was a $40 billion industry around digital collectibles, but fortunes eroded last year as the volume of NFT sales fell by 97 percent.
Yet lawsuits are still playing out across the beleaguered industry, including trademark fights focused not on the technology itself, but the essence of what users have stored on the blockchain.
Yuga Labs, the creator of the NFT franchise Bored Ape Yacht Club, has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the artist Ryder Ripps, accusing him of copying its imagery. (Ripps has said the lawsuit attacks his free speech rights.) The company announced on Monday that it had settled a separate case against Thomas Lehman, a developer on Ripps’s NFT project, who admitted to infringing on the Yuga Labs brand.
Noh said the best protection artists have against trademark disputes is the Rogers test, a legal standard established in 1989.
In that case, the actor Ginger Rogers had sued the movie producer Alberto Grimaldi, arguing that the film “Ginger and Fred” violated her trademark rights because it used her name in connection with its fictionalized depiction of a pair of washed-up Italian dancers. But a federal appeals court determined that the use of the name Ginger was an expressive element of the title, artistically relevant to the underlying film, and therefore subject to First Amendment interests that needed to be weighed against the risk of misleading consumers.
Rebecca Tushnet, a Harvard Law School professor who helped prepare Rothschild’s defense, said the Rogers test meant “you can’t hold someone liable for infringement unless their work is artistically irrelevant or explicitly misleading.”
During the trial’s opening arguments, Hermès attempted to minimize Rothschild’s credibility and artistic intent by focusing on his business strategy, displaying text messages in which he asked social media influencers to “do one more shill post” that might raise demand for his NFTs. The company’s lawyer also told the jury that Rothschild had publicized its cease-and-desist letter on social media, hoping that conflict might drive interest.
Judge Jed S. Rakoff granted Hermès’s motion to exclude a report prepared by the art critic Blake Gopnik that favorably compared the MetaBirkins to artwork by Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst. (Gopnik contributes to The New York Times.)
The defense painted a more sympathetic picture of Rothschild, 28, who worked in retail for streetwear brands and luxury brands like Saint Laurent after dropping out of college. In 2021, he and Ericka del Rosario, now his fiancée, opened a concept store in Los Angeles called Terminal 27. He often hired assistants with the technical skills he lacked to work on projects, including MetaBirkins.
Rothschild was “a conceptual artist,” Millsaps, his lawyer, said. “The idea guy, not the guy who executes the job.”
Some veterans of the fashion industry wondered why Hermès had bothered litigating the case at all. Although Chavez testified that the company had been experimenting with its own NFTs, including a project intended for release this year, it has let other unsanctioned projects slide, like when the Brooklyn collective MSCHF turned the Birkin bag into $76,000 “Birkinstocks.”
Ian Rogers, the former chief digital officer of the fashion conglomerate LVMH, who currently works at a crypto company named Ledger, said the company’s preoccupation with Rothschild was puzzling.
“Maybe this hit close to home,” Rogers said. “Luxury people should understand NFTs, because if you have been in the business of explaining why someone would spend $18,000 on a bag then you are pretty well-suited at explaining why someone would pay $3,000 for an NFT.”
t Winchester college, the alma mater of Rishi Sunak, students can take classes in wood carving and sculpture, perform on a proscenium stage at the school’s 240-seat theatre, or make use of the 2,000 books in its art library. The story is very different at state schools, which have seen a steep reduction in arts provision over the last decade. “The moment that convinced me to go on strike was when my school lost its specialist art teacher,” one striking teacher wrote in this newspaper last week. “Activities such as art [and] music … are the highlight of the week for a lot of pupils, but they’re the first to go when resources are short.”
English state schools are facing a creativity crisis. Since 2010, enrolment in arts GCSEs has fallen by 40% and the number of arts teachers has fallen by 23%. This shift is most pronounced among state schools in deprived areas, where pupils are far less likely to sing in a choir or play in an orchestra. Meanwhile, private schools have invested substantial resources in art and music provision, according to research from Warwick University. This depressing trend is part of a wider and self-reinforcing pattern. As fewer state students have the opportunity to engage with arts or music, fewer go on to study these subjects at A-level or university. The risk is that arts subjects will be restricted to a privileged few, shrinking the cultural horizons of everyone but the elite.
Art makes a person broader-minded and more imaginative. Yet the government’s bleakly utilitarian attitude to education has narrowed the opportunities available to state school students. Artists and teachers have long railed against the English baccalaureate, the system introduced without consultation under the former education secretary Michael Gove in 2010. The Ebacc excludes all arts subjects. It is also the bedrock on which a school’s Progress 8 score is based, which determines its place in performance tables. This gives schools an incentive to focus on “core” subjects – English, maths and sciences. Independent schools are not bound by these rules or performance tables, and are free to do what they deem best for their pupils.
Cuts have made this picture worse. In the 10 years after 2009, spending per pupil in England fell by nearly 10% in real terms. As support staff have been cut, overstretched teachers have less capacity to run choirs or put on school plays. Although the government announced an additional £2.3bn in school funding in last year’s autumn statement, most of this will be eaten up by the growth in school costs.Because arts subjects require space and resources, they are often most vulnerable to budget cuts. In their 2019 manifesto, the Conservatives promised a £110m arts premium to help schools fund arts programmes and extracurricular activities. This was whittled down to £90m in Mr Sunak’s 2020 budget. He promised this money would arrive by September 2021. But it has still yet to materialise.
The investment that private schools have made in arts provision refutes the notion, favoured by Conservative ministers, that education is simply a training ground for the labour market. But even on a purely economic basis, the government’s approach to arts education is self-defeating. In a recent speech, the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, noted that the cultural industries had grown at twice the rate of the UK’s economy over the last decade. Tackling the creativity crisis in state schools is a matter of urgency, both for pupils and for the country as a whole.
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