Art Food Film

Here Are the Top 12 Stories Readers Couldn’t Get Enough of in 2023

Anna Uddenberg, ”Continental Breakfast” (Installation View), 2023. Image courtesy of the artist and Meredith Rosen Gallery.

1. Anna Uddenberg Translates Reality TV into Sculptural Simulacra

Anna Uddenberg left the debut of “Continental Breakfast,” her show at Meredith Rosen Gallery, surprised. For her, New York was synonymous with loud, raucous crowds. “But I've never been to a more quiet opening,” the Swedish artist remembers over a Zoom call. “It was dead silent. I was kind of shocked at how obedient everybody was.” She attributes the hush to the performers that activated the show’s sculptural elements on opening night; perhaps the audience found them intimidating. The artist assembled steel, leather, fake rattan, and acrylic glass to generate pseudo-architectural structures that evoke airport massage chairs, Segways, and subway poles as much as they echo BBL recovery pillows and crutches. It’s a shift from the superficiality of selfie culture, “It-girls,” and instrumentalized mindfulness to the visual language of what the artist calls “non-spaces.”

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Portrait of Jemima Kirke by Dan Bassini and courtesy of Kirke.

2. For Jemima Kirke, Self-Care Means Cigarettes, Movies, and Benzos

Jemima Kirke is that friend who takes an item of clothing from the back of your closet that you never figured out how to wear, throws it on, and makes it look effortlessly cool. The artist and actor is trying on the role of uptown real-estate heiress in the new Apple TV+ series City on Fire. Set in 2003, the scripted show tells the story of how the murder of a New York University student in Central Park sent shockwaves through the city. We asked Kirke to tell us about the small luxuries that enrich her life and the long list of items she covets.

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Portrait of Deb Perelman by Christine Han. Image courtesy of Perelman.

3. OG Food Blogger Deb Perelman Can’t Stand 'Spa Water'

Deb Perelman has been running her food blog, The Smitten Kitchen, for 16 years. That makes her a native in the blogosphere, one of the first to log on and find an audience through her diverse, easy-to-master recipes. The standouts in Perelman’s repertoire get classified as “keepers,” those recipes that you may want to print out and file away for a rainy day or extended family get-together. For further ease of use, the chef compiled them into a cookbook, smitten kitchen keepers. Perelman took a break from perfecting a new lemon cake recipe to tell CULTURED her kitchen must-haves, least favorite dishes, and unusual bodega order.

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Photography by Rachel Fleminger Hudson.

4. Mia Goth Tells Kid Cudi Why She Wants Every Role to Feel Like Her Last

No two Mia Goth films are alike—unless you count the X trilogy, a cerebral twist on slasher cinema hatched by horror auteur Ti West and A24 films—and even that is irrevocably radical. Following collaborations with the likes of Lars von Trier, Luca Guadagnino, and Claire Denis, the discerning actor fronts dual roles in the series’ titular film, and co-wrote its prequel, Pearl. As CULTURED's February/March cover star prepares for X's third and final installment, MaXXXine, she ruminates on artistic vulnerability, creative challenges, and evolving her craft with her castmate, Scott Mescudi aka the multidisciplinary performing artist Kid Cudi.

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Photography by Gregory Halpern of Magnum Photos and Ahndraya Parlato.

5. Emily Ratajkowski Grew Up Surrounded by Art. Now, It's Key to Her Parenting Philosophy.

When Emily Ratajkowski was around the age that her son, Sylvester (“Sly”), is now, she regularly found herself under the care of her father, the multidisciplinary artist John David Ratajkowski. Today, CULTURED’s April/May cover star makes collages in her own time, a pursuit born from being a student in her father’s art class—which, for any other high schooler, would have been a nightmare. The pair remain each other’s critic and confidante, sending their thoughts on one another’s work in place of texting pleasantries. On the eve of Sly’s second birthday, the father and daughter take an opportunity to reflect on the art of parenting, Emily’s foray into the art world, and how art became inseparable from their family life.

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Image courtesy of Rachel E. Cargle.

6. For Women, Is Divorce a Radical Act of Self-Determination?

It had been nearly three years. Three years of being his wife, of being celebrated for how “well” we showed up in the world. Three years of being praised for our union, a model of “what was possible” for many people in our small, Midwestern, Apostolic Christian community. To this day, I’m not sure if there is anyone I’ve laughed with more. But as my marital fantasy unfolded, a feeling of uneasiness began to seep in. Even before things became serious, my gut—that unnerving, visceral voice inside me—told me that he was a good man, but that didn’t mean he was a good man for me.

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M. Knoedler & Co. circa 1880-1860. Image courtesy of the Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views.

7. The Hammer Family's Most Costly Scandal Doesn't Even Include Armie

There is poetic justice in the takedown of any an old money nepo baby family, but especially when done by the hands of an unassuming math teacher from Queens. Perhaps this is why the public has responded with such glee to the ongoing breakdown of the Hammer family’s reputation. But while Armie Hammer, who was the subject of a sex abuse exposé rife with details of cannibalistic fantasies and heavy drug use, has stolen much of recent headlines, it turns out his father has his own spiraling past. 

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Photography by Daniel Arnold.

8. Why Is Gen Z So Obsessed With Fran Lebowitz? In CULTURED's Winter Cover Story, Author Nicolaia Rips Investigates

Nicolaia Rips, who published a memoir about her New York upbringing at 17, explores the enduring and intergenerational appeal of the 73-year-old writer and consummate New Yorker. While listening to Fran Lebowitz's talk at Kings Theater, questions arise of just what is so alluring to a younger generation about a writer who doesn’t write, an evergreen icon who walks the streets of New York unencumbered, an anti-celebrity who’s managed to maintain relevance despite waging a decades-long campaign against the concept.

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Photography by Kobe Wagstaff.

9. Marsai Martin's Butterfly Effect

Lifetime achievement awards commemorate the kind of milestones that Marsai Martin is breezing through. In 2019, the Black-ish actor made history as the youngest executive producer on a major Hollywood production with the film Little, and was featured on the celebrated Time 100 Next list. At just 18 years old, she has been awarded a total of 11 NAACP Image Awards and nominated for two Screen Actors Guild Awards. Last year, Fantasy Football—a film she not only starred in but also produced—was released on Paramount+. But Martin is not simply knocking down barriers for her own fulfillment—she is building a legacy to inspire young women around the world.

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Image courtesy of Imagno/Getty.

10. Gustav Klimt: The Cat-Crazed Womanizer Behind History’s Most Famous Kiss

If you had to choose one shoddily reproduced work of art from the dusty window display of your neighborhood thrift shop, your shrewdest pick would undoubtedly be The Kiss, 1907-08, Gustav Klimt’s gilded masterpiece. The sensual image of two lovers intertwined in an envy-inspiring embrace is now so ubiquitous—hung in dorm rooms and hotel lobbies, printed on toilet seats and lingerie sets—that its magnificence has been trivialized. The rebellious life of its Austrian symbolist painter has likewise been overshadowed by the image’s commercial success, an amusing thought given the free-spirited philanderer’s provocative bent. Father to an alleged 14 children, sexual partner to innumerable female muses, and keeper of a great number of cats (whose bodily fluids made their way into his work), Klimt—who once claimed “there is nothing special about me”—was far more radical than he let on.

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Photography by Kobe Wagstaff. 

11. Havana Rose Liu Was Hand-Picked for the Spotlight

Havana Rose Liu’s story echoes those of Old Hollywood, when stars were chosen merely for the way they existed, their radiance catching the eye of the right person in the right place at the right time. Today, the 25-year-old says that she was “dragged” into the spotlight. After years of rejecting overtures from photographers on the streets of her native New York out of fear of being trapped in a stranger’s basement, she finally gave in and started modeling. “My inspiration for performance comes from life more than anything else,” the New York University graduate muses. “I was all over the map before. Somehow, acting is the intersection of the things I am interested in.”

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Photography by Jay Po Gordon. Image courtesy of Ciarra K. Walters.

12. 6 Emerging Black American Artists to Keep On Your Radar

While the debate about the qualifications of “emerging” artists continues—especially given the complication of social media—the simplest way to approach the ambiguous classification is by looking at artists in the early stages of their careers: those that are just starting their journey and already gaining the attention of curators and collectors. In other words, artists who know how to drive and have their foot on the pedal. In the midst of Black History Month, CULTURED looked across geography and disciplines for this group of interesting, committed, and dynamic emerging Black American artists primed to change the world.

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