Our Favorite Arts Pictures of 2020

The magenta glow of an exhibition outside the Guggenheim Museum, whose white spiral was off-limits to art lovers. The deserted grand staircase of a Metropolitan Opera silenced by the pandemic, its Sputnik chandeliers with no crowds to illuminate. Movie buffs, barred from cinemas, enjoying films at least semi-communally at a drive-in.

Yes, there was absence and apartness and pain as this most socially distant of years upended art and culture. But with hindsight, 2020 had many other things to say, too, as this selection of some of our favorite arts photography published this year by The New York Times makes clear.

Photographers for The New York Times captured it all, relying on their P.P.E. as well as their light meters and lenses to bring us not just the year’s pain but also its pleasures, with glimpses of much-needed triumphs and life-affirming beauty. Have a look.

“I wanted to make an image that spoke to the quiet tension of being confined to a small space with your loved one. Little did I know, many of us would soon be experiencing this intensity of closeness during the pandemic.”

— Philip Montgomery on photographing Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick in February

“It was a trip to a parallel reality — one I long for — where the boundaries of gender disappear and freedom finally arises.”

— Camila Falquez on photographing Manuel Liñán and his dance company

“Chris wasn’t the only person in the pool fully clothed. To get the shot, I got in there with him and happily rode back to the city sopping wet.”

— Dana Scruggs on photographing Chris Rock

“Looking back, it’s hard to believe that this image is from 2020. It felt like a meditation.”

— Sasha Arutyunova on photographing a dance rehearsal in February


‘The New Saturday Night’

Saturday night is a time of mythic potential and mundane reality. It’s a fantasy space that only opens at the height of the weekend. We asked 33 photographers to show us the world on the weekend. What they found was the new Saturday night.

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