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The Defining Artworks of 2023

Each year, countless new artworks are made and historical ones come into sharper focus as events in the art world and beyond give them new valance. That’s the case with the 25 works assembled here, which in one way or another defined our editors’ art-viewing experiences. While the NFT bubble may have burst, several highlighted works here look at our relationship to the digital world, and were often created in collaboration with AI. Others debuted as part of major exhibitions, with the 15th edition of the Sharjah Biennial in the United Arab Emirates having produced a number of exceptional works in 2023. Still, others look at our relationship to history and the urgency of looking at it from perspectives that have long been purposefully marginalized and silenced.

Below, a look back at the defining artworks of 2023.

8. Ishi Glinsky, Inertia—Warn the Animals, 2023

Featured in this year’s Made in LA biennial at the Hammer Museum, Ishi Glinsky’s Inertia—Warn the Animals served as its own mini-biennial within the exhibition. Affixed to the back of this towering, larger-than-life Ghostface sculpture (whose stark white face has been replaced a by turquoise-like mosaic) are the works of 11 other Indigenous artists. Among them are Teresa Baker (Mandan/Hidatsa), Demian DinéYazhi’ (Diné), River Garza (Tongva), Eric-Paul Riege (Diné), Sarah Rosalena (Huichol), and Sheridan MacKnight (White Earth Chippewa / Hunkpapa Lakota). In convening this intertribal delegation of artists, Glinsky (Tohono O’odham) looks at the Grand Entry, a moment of anticipation ahead of the powwow, in which the regalia affixed to the back would start to make noise as the dancer begins to move; the use of Ghostface furthers that sense of anticipation that something is about to happen. —Maximilíano Durón