Though there was no shortage of great debuts around town in 2012, it felt like an especially strong year for rediscoveries—exhibitions that offered the chance to revisit artists that the New York market and most mainstream art histories have, for various reasons, overlooked. All around town, museums and galleries presented artists who are late in their careers and who have shown little in New York in recent years (or in recent decades)—if they have even shown here at all.
The New York art world still craves the next young talent, and the latest show from an established star, to be sure, but its dealers and curators seem increasingly interested in taking a look back to explore what they may be missing.
Three standouts from the past year: SculptureCenter presented the thorough retrospective that the late, great postminimalist Bill Bollinger deserved in his hometown, James Fuentes and JTT teamed up on a show of Bill Walton, an ace sculptor (1931–2010) from Philadelphia who never had a solo show in New York during his long career, and Peter Fend, a longtime troublemaker, popped up in superb shows all over the city.
In the slide show above, a look at 10 of the year’s finest surprises.