"Best of" lists continue to be one of the easiest forms of online journalism, providing more clicks than most thoughtful or hard hitting criticism could promise. They're smooth, digestible, and often spark page upon page of advertiser-friendly debate. But who's the best list maker? Who has their hand on the curatorial pulse of defining what books, exhibitions, Instagram feeds and individual photographs had the most impact in the past year? Who is really worth your 'like' or share? Below is a pretty dang arbitrary list of 6 of our favorite lists summarizing the best art and photo related content of 2014. Do you agree? Tell your friends and and give us some hell! (And while we're at it, Happy New Year!)
1. Best "Photographers on Instagram" list:
Blake Andrews' "Photo Stars of Instagram"
Some of our favorite art and culture blogs have churned out wonderfully curated lists of their favorite photographers using Instagram, and while we can't get enough, did our own Instagram show earlier this year and will likely continue to post our own monthly IG favs lists, the lists can sometimes feel a bit redundant. But Blake Andrews recently compiled a nice counter to this trend, with his list of Instagram celebrities, their corresponding stats (re: Annie Liebovitz has nearly 10K followers and only 2 posts), and brief jabs like "...Humans of New York is unstoppable. If August Sander was alive today he would be doing exactly...er no he wouldn't."
2. Best "Best Photobooks of 2014" list:
FlakPhoto's 35 Books of the Year
Just before the holidays, Andy Adams compiled his own selection of the 35 best photobooks. What made Andy's list particularly innovative? Instead of posting a straight-up clickable post, he first tweeted his picks individually, encouraging his community of Twitter followers to share each one, and THEN published the full list on FlakPhoto. This helped to get every book on the list more focused attention and recognition, and gave it a longer shelf-life. .
3. Best "Best Photography Exhibitions of 2014" list:
While it's admittedly NYC centric, this list, compiled by Slate's David Rosenberg and Jordan Teichler, is a sharp, diverse, and tightly curated selection of group and solo photography exhibitions this past year.
4. Best "we F#d up" list of 2014:
This isn't as wide spread a theme and it's not 100% dedicated to photography, and we think this is mostly a tongue-in-cheek compilation. However, we think this mock-correction of one of our favorite photo editors, Slate's David Rosenberg's quoting of photographer Tom Sanders saying it takes him "five years to get on the dance floor" when, according to Poynter, It takes him five beers, is pretty great.
5. Best "Best Photographs of 2014" list:
Wired Magazine's "NASA's Best Images of Earth From Space in 2014"
Wired magazine's "NASA's Best Images of Earth From Space in 2014" took a different approach from many of the photo-journalism heavy "best of lists." One of its highlights is this seemingly-but-not-actually pixilated gem of the Colorado River from NASA's Robert Simmon, which, while firmly footed in reportage, could just as easily stand in MoMa's annual New Photography exhibition.
6. Best Age-Specific Artists List:
Artsy's "The Top 10 Artists Under 35 in 2014"
Just after submission fees, age-specific exhibitions continue to be one of the biggest sh*t stirrers of the art and photography community. While we don't doubt that they can at times exclude some of the most talented artists working today, they often provide a necessary snapshot and reflection of a specific generation. This well balanced list of the younger set includes some of our favorites like Richard Mosse, and the continuously brilliant Tauba Auerbach.