Apollo Magazine

Artist of the Year

Apollo’s annual celebration of achievements in the art world. The Artist of the Year Award commends the most influential artists of the past 12 months

Laurie Anderson

Since the 1970s, Anderson’s performance art, video works and even pop songs have come to define a kind of restive experimentalism native to New York, and this year it has received its fair share of dues across the Atlantic. ‘Looking into a Mirror Sideways’ – at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm – was her largest European retrospective to date. In April, flickering images of chalk drawings by Anderson were projected on to the famous billboard at Piccadilly Circus, London, as well as screens in Berlin, Milan, Seoul and Tokyo. And over the summer, Anderson staged a musical concert that toured seven European cities.

Laurie Anderson. Photo: Mattias Lindbäck; courtesy Moderna Museet, Stockholm

Peter Doig

Doig’s name is never far from conversations about the world’s finest living painter – and this year, he was given not one but two chances to measure himself against past greats. In his solo display at the Courtauld Gallery in London, which opened in February, recent works by Doig hung in proximity with paintings by Manet, Van Gogh and Cézanne – and he was also invited to scatter his works among the modernist masterpieces at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris for a display that opened in October.

Peter Doig. Photo: Fergus Carmichael; courtesy The Courtauld Gallery, London.

Wangechi Mutu

In February, Wangechi Mutu was accorded a singular honour – the first single-artist show to take over the entirety of the New Museum, New York. More than 100 works, many featuring the fantastical, sci-fi figures for which the Kenya-born artist is best known, ranged across painting, sculpture, video, performance and collage and spanned her 25-year career. The first major monograph on the artist’s work, with contributions by Courtney J. Martin, Kellie Jones, Chika Okeke-Agulu and Adrienne Edwards, was published by Phaidon last December.

Wangechi Mutu. Photo: Khadija Farah

Laure Prouvost

The French artist’s works in video, sound, installation and performance all demonstrate an interest in slippages of meaning and miscommunication – but this year has proved again that her art speaks clearly around the world. Prouvost was the artist chosen to inaugurate a series of commissions for the vast Light Hall at the redeveloped Nasjonalmuseet in Oslo; the result, ‘Above Front Tears Oui Float’, was an immersive landscape populated by dreamlike sculptures and films. Prouvost has also presented solo exhibitions in Vienna, Houston, New York and, for her largest North American show to date, at Remai Modern in Saskatoon.

Laure Prouvost. Photo: Annar Bjørgli; courtesy National Museum, Oslo

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith has finally ripped through what she has often called the ‘buckskin ceiling’. ‘Memory Map’, the Whitney’s first career retrospective of a Native American artist, surveyed five decades in which Smith has been rewriting American art history from an Indigenous perspective, deftly combining ideas and motifs drawn from artists such as Jasper Johns with Native craft traditions and petroglyphs. Smith also curated ‘The Land Carries Our Ancestors: Contemporary Art by Native Americans’, selecting 50 living artists for this landmark survey at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith photographed by Ungelbah Dávila in 2021

Henry Taylor

Taylor is best known for his tender, fluently painted portraits of Black figures, ranging from celebrities and historical subjects to his family, friends, and homeless people local to him in Los Angeles. ‘Henry Taylor: B Side’ – his first major museum survey, which opened at Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles last November before travelling to the Whitney in New York – placed these paintings in the context of a richly varied back catalogue that takes in drawing, sculpture and installation.

Henry Taylor. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen; courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth; © Henry Taylor

The ShortlistsMuseum Opening of the Year | Exhibition of the Year |  Digital Innovation of the Year | Book of the Year | Acquisition of the Year

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