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The 100 most iconic artworks from the last five years

And the top ten are ...

Leading international art website ARTINFO has released a list of the “100 Most Iconic Artworks From the Last 5 Years”. The full list, released on their website this week, is an ambitious attempt to distill the past half-decade into its most memorable artistic moments. They put it thus:

From among the thousands of individual works that pass through galleries and museums, which have affected the conversation in some significant way? Amid all of contemporary art's chaotic installations and ephemeral gestures, which images have some staying power?

The top condenders were chosen by members of the ARTINFO staff, colleagues and several “distinguished outsiders”. The final cut – notably heavy on “art stars”, installations and performance pieces (Damien Hirst, Ai Weiwei, Marina Abromovic, Tino Seghal and Pussy Riot all make it in) – has sparked mixed reactions.  We’ll let you be the judge. In the top ten slots:

1. Christian Marclay, "The Clock", 2010

Produced for the Lincoln Centre in New York, this piece of video art - spanning 24 hours - on a clock was built “collage” style from spliced film clips, each frame displaying an exact time.          


2. Marina Abromovic, "The Artists is Present", 2010  

Renowned performance artist Marina Abramovic’s retrospective at the New York MOMA saw her spend three months across from an empty chair, in which thousands of visitors took a seat over the course of the exhibition.


3. Tino Sehgal, "This Progress", 2010            

A participatory work in which volunteers guided visitors through the ascending levels of New York’s Guggenheim Museum, mirroring the passage of time.


4. Ai Weiwei,"Sunflower Seeds", 2010            

The artist flooded the Tate Modern Turbine Hall with a hundred million seemingly identical hand-sculpted sunflower seeds, offering poetic comment on the notion of “made in China” and the nature of individuality.


5. Damien Hirst, "For the Love of God", 2007         


YBA breakout star Damien Hirst stirred controversy in the art world once again when he covered this human skull with diamonds and sold it for $100 million.


6. Mark Wallinger, "State Britain", 2007            

For his solo piece at the Tate Turbine Hall, Wallinger’s “ready-made” was a meticulous recreation of the anti-war encampment that was forcibly removed from outside London’s Houses of Parliament.


7. Voina, "A Dick Captured by the FSB", 2010         


Street art? Establishment protest? The Russian art Voina collective shot to notoriety after tracing this phallus on a drawbridge outside the former KGB in Moscow.


8. Shepard Fairey, "Hope", 2008            

The now-infamous portrait was appropriated by Fairey from an Asssociated Press photograph, and was soon absorbed into the visual iconography of Obama’s 2008 election campaign.


9. Pussy Riot, "Christ the Savior Cathedral performance", 2012            

Feminist punk group/performance artists - and recent cause-célèbre - Pussy Riot’s most famous performance saw them perform on the alter at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow - then landed them in jail.


10. Allora & Calzadilla, "Track and Field", 2011     

The American art duo devises this absurdist installation, in which an athlete used an overturned 60 ton military tank as a treadmill outside the US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. “As brawny and bombastic as the nationalistic spectacles it was mocking”.


See the full list here.

Charlotte Simmonds is a writer and blogger living in London. She was formerly an editorial assistant at the New Statesman. You can follow her on Twitter @thesmallgalleon.

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The Bloody Mary is dead: all hail the Bloody Caesar

This Canadian version of an old standard is a good substitute for dinner.

It is not anti-Catholic bias that makes me dislike the Bloody Mary, that lumpish combination of tomato juice and vodka named after a 16th-century English queen who, despite the immense reach of her royal powers, found burning Protestants alive the most effective display of majesty.

My prejudice is against its contents: the pulverised tomatoes that look like run-off from a Tudor torture chamber. A whole tomato is a source of joy and, occasionally, wonder (I remember learning that the Farsi for tomato is gojeh farangi, which translates literally as “foreign plum”) – and I am as fond of pizza as anyone. Most accessories to the Bloody Mary are fine with me: Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, celery, black pepper, even sherry or oysters. But generally I share the curmudgeon Bernard DeVoto’s mistrust of fruit juice in my spirits: “all pestilential, all gangrenous, all vile” was the great man’s verdict. His main objection was sweetness but I will include the admittedly savoury tomato in my ban. At the cocktail hour, I have been known to crave all kinds of odd concoctions but none has included pulp.

To many, the whole point of a Bloody Mary is that you don’t wait until the cocktail hour. This seems to entail a certain shying away from unpleasant realities. I know perfectly well the reaction I would get if I were to ask for a grilled tomato and a chilled Martini at brunch: my friends would start likening me to F Scott Fitzgerald and they wouldn’t be referring to my writing talent. Despite its remarkably similar contents, a Bloody Mary is a perfectly acceptable midday, middle-class beverage. If the original Mary were here to witness such hypocrisy, she would surely tut and reach for her firelighters.

Yet, like the good Catholic I certainly am not, I must confess, for I have seen the error of my ways. In July, on Vancouver Island, I tried a Bloody Caesar – Canada’s spirited response to England’s favourite breakfast tipple (“I’ll see your Tudor queen, you bunch of retrograde royalists, and raise you a Roman emperor”). The main difference is a weird yet oddly palatable concoction called Clamato: tomato juice thinned and refined by clam juice. Replace your standard slop with this stuff, which has all the tang of tomato yet flows like a veritable Niagara, and you will have a drink far stranger yet more delicious than the traditional version.

Apparently, the Caesar was invented by an Italian restaurateur in Calgary, Alberta, who wanted a liquid version of his favourite dish from the old country: spaghetti alle vongole in rosso (clam and tomato spaghetti). He got it – and, more importantly, the rest of us got something we can drink not at breakfast but instead of dinner. Find a really interesting garnish – pickled bull kelp or spicy pickled celery, say – and you can even claim to have eaten your greens.

I’m sure that dedicated fans of the Bloody Mary will consider this entire column heretical, which seems appropriate: that’s the side I was born on, being Jewish, and I like to hope I wouldn’t switch even under extreme forms of persuasion. But this cocktail is in any case a broad church: few cocktails come in so many different incarnations.

The original was invented, according to him, by Fernand Petiot, who was a French barman in New York during Prohibition (and so must have known a thing or two about hypocrisy). It includes lemon juice and a “layer” of Worcestershire sauce and the tomato juice is strained; it may also actually have been named after a barmaid.

All of which proves only that dogma has no place at the bar. Variety is the spice of life, which makes it ironic that the world’s spiciest cocktail bestows a frivolous immortality on a woman who believed all choice to be the work of the devil.

Next week John Burnside on nature

Nina Caplan is the 2014 Fortnum & Mason Drink Writer of the Year and 2014 Louis Roederer International Wine Columnist of the Year for her columns on drink in the New Statesman. She tweets as @NinaCaplan.

This article first appeared in the 08 October 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Putin vs Isis