Best of 2013: Art

From Venice Biennale to Cindy Sherman’s selfies, these are the best art happenings of 2013, selected by Stockholm gallery owner Jonas Kleerup. 

After several years abroad, Jonas Kleerup moved back to Stockholm in 2005, to found an eponymous gallery in the following year. Since then, Jonas Kleerup has exhibited everything from conceptual art, video installation and performances, to illustrators, photographers and painters, establishing the gallery as one of the most emerging Stockholm art spaces, gathering a new generation of art lovers. This year, we’ve seen exhibitions by Li Shurui, Christian Saldert, Makode Linde, and Noah Lyon, amongst others. We asked him to list the best art happenings of 2013.

Venice Biennale
Every second year since 1895, the art world invades Venice. This year was a particularly good one, with a theme that surprisingly included outsider art, new age, and spirituality in its context. The two intense days I spent there felt like a hallucinatory dream. In a good way.

Hip hop makes art trendy
Last year, at the art fair in Miami, we had Puff Diddy in our booth. This year everyone wanted Kanye on their client list. Pharrell attended almost all of the art parties that were thrown last year. But the one who really made contemporary art THE new thing in the whole music world was Jay-Z, whose new album Magna Carta… Holy Grail was filled with references to art. His “performance piece” at hip Pace Gallery, where he rapped about Picasso for six hours in front of art world legends like Marina Abramovic, was one of this year’s most talked about.

Cindy Sherman – Untitled #122, 1983
Cindy Sherman – Untitled #122, 1983

2013 was the year everyone started their own photo blog. “Facebook is just for parents nowadays” my girlfriend convinced me around a year ago, and this year I noticed how all interesting people in the art word also started with Instagram – check out Simon de Pury, China Chow, The Hole gallery owner Kathy Grayson, curator legend Hans Ulrich Obrist, or Bjarne Melgaard, for instance. Banksy based his whole “show” around the streets of New York on his Instagram account. Moderna Museet in Stockholm used it as a marketing tool when they presented Cindy Sherman as “the founder of the selfie”.

Alex Israel, exhibited at Carl Kostyal's gallery Isbrytaren.
Alex Israel, exhibited at Carl Kostyal’s gallery Isbrytaren.

New kids on the block
1. South African art dealer Paul McCabe decided to grace Stockholm with his present, and in the beginning of this year he opened up a showroom of international standard with his new space on Artillerigatan. Suddenly, Stockholm felt one step closer to the international circuit of the contemporary art market.

2. London based collector Carl Kostyál also decided that it was time to make an appearance in Stockholm. Together with Oscar Properties, he staged three massive exhibitions of hot contemporary art in an old industrial space at Kungsholmen. Not only a great improvement for the Stockholm scene, he also threw some great parties, with PR-agencies helping to bring the in-crowd a bit closer to the art.

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Rude Girls by Béatrice Cussol at Museum of Spirits.

Last year, Absolut Art decided to up their annual Absolut Art Award to a larger sum, and also to nominate a writer in addition to the artists. This year, the Museum of Spirits opened their first “independent” show (read – not related to Absolut’s own collection); Rude Girls by Béatrice Cussol, curated by Mia Sundberg and currently on display. Add to that the great parties, custom-built bars, and various installations by contemporary artists that Absolut hosts in everything from Venice and Basel to Miami, or wherever the contemporary art circus decides to travel. Oh, and always a prominent presence here in Stockholm, both in the art and fashion worlds.