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.

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

— Camila Falquez on photographing Manuel Liñán and his dance company

— Dana Scruggs on photographing Chris Rock

— Sasha Arutyunova on photographing a dance rehearsal in February


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.

— Yael Malka on photographing Jane Alexander

— Rosie Marks on photographing Róisín Murphy

— Philip Montgomery on photographing Martin Scorsese

— Daniel Arnold on photographing Jerry Seinfeld via FaceTime

— Kent Andreasen on photographing the first Stellenbosch Triennale

— Ana Cuba on photographing Jessie Ware

— Alex Lau on photographing Chinatown

— Aubrey Trinnaman on photographing Mary Lovelace O’Neal


In our Sources of Self Regard feature, The Times asked Black photographers to reflect on America with their self-portraits. “Being a visual artist is the ultimate resistance to invisibility,” said Carlos Javier Ortiz, one of the project’s contributors.

— Tania Franco Klein on photographing the experience of watching the film “1900”

— Maxime La on photographing Jehnny Beth

— Mustafah Abdulaziz on photographing Roderick Cox

— Kalpesh Lathigra on photographing Brian Eno

— Ryan Pfluger on photographing Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn

— Vincent Tullo on photographing the financial district during lockdown

— Heather Sten on photographing Virginia Jaramillo

— Ramona Rosales on photographing John Malkovich

— Andre D. Wagner on photographing Spike Lee


In our visual series The Take, we asked photographers to explore this year’s cultural themes, capturing the everyday and the surreal.

— Molly Matalon on photographing Amanda Seyfried

— Sasha Arutyunova on photographing “Afterwardsness”

— Heather Sten on photographing Amy Schumer

— Daniel Arnold on photographing Times Square after Broadway’s shutdown

— Victor Llorente on photographing David Letterman

— Stephen Tayo on photographing the Leap of Dance Academy

— Krista Schlueter on photographing Patrick Vaill, who played Jud Fry for 13 years

— Jeenah Moon on photographing the Guggenheim’s “Countryside” exhibition

— Bryan Derballa on photographing the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

— Landon Nordeman on photographing his family wearing horror masks

— Jared Soares on photographing N’Ferno Performing Arts Center recital

— Jake Michaels on photographing Jesse Plemons

— Daniel Dorsa on photographing the Warwick Drive-In

— Ryan Pfluger on photographing Mike Hadreas

— Cait Oppermann and Yael Malka on photographing horror masks

— Evan Jenkins on photographing the “Bob Ross Experience”

— Mark Mahaney on photographing Francis Ford Coppola

— Victor Llorente on photographing the Metropolitan Opera

— Camila Falquez on trying Merce Cunningham’s solo “50 Looks”

— Ryan Lowry on photographing Antonio Banderas

— Daniel Jack Lyons on photographing Mark Kanemura

— Evan Jenkins on photographing Jeff Daniels

— Devin Oktar Yalkin on photographing Howardena Pindell

— Kim Raff on photographing Megan Fairchild

— Sara Krulwich on photographing Eiko Otake

— Maggie Shannon on photographing Susan Boyajian