2023 in Retrospect: 59 Photographs That Defined the Year in Arts

Credit…Peter Fisher for The New York Times

2023 in Retrospect:
59 Photographs That Defined the Year in Arts

Deadheads, ballerinas and Mick Jagger: As 2023 winds down, revisit a memorable handful of the thousands of images commissioned by our photo editors that capture the year in culture.

Compiled by Marysa Greenawalt, Laura O’Neill, Jolie Ruben and Amanda Webster


“I’ve been working as hard as I know how to make myself ready for a moment when I would meet a role like this,” Michelle Williams told The New York Times of her performance as Mitzi in Steven Spielberg’s “The Fabelmans,” which earned her an Oscar nomination.Credit…Sinna Nasseri for The New York Times
Betty Disney cradled her baby, Brooklyn, while sitting next to her daughter Blake in front of a Nativity display at Dollywood late last year. Dolly Parton’s Tennessee theme park gets into the holiday spirit in a way that rivals Radio City’s Rockettes.Credit…Stacy Kranitz for The New York Times

“I was not so much interested in the way this mother mimicked the Nativity scene because the parallels were evident. I was looking to capture a genuine moment of engagement with the family. The story about Dollywood was about the decadence of Christmas decorations, but it was also about the way families share time together.” — Stacy Kranitz

With “A Doll’s House,” the Oscar-winning actress Jessica Chastain returned to Broadway after 10 years. “I don’t feel the angst and the fear that I did the last time I was onstage,” she told The Times.Credit…Thea Traff for The New York Times
The Formula 1 Grand Prix is a touring spectacle that attracts hundreds of thousands of people from all over the planet for one weekend. Last year, the premier motorsport championship came to Miami for the first time in its 70-year existence.Credit…Scott Rossi for The New York Times

“As a kid who grew up racing go-karts, I had dreamed of attending an F1 race. Still, I had no idea what to expect in Miami. With a fake marina, a fake beach club and a set by Post Malone, the event was more over-the-top than I could have anticipated. So I was extra excited when I stumbled onto moments like this one, removed from all the glitz and glamour of the weekend.” — Scott Rossi

Laura Les and Dylan Brady of 100 gecs. The duo’s second album, “10,000 gecs,” released in March, mashes together genres different than those on their electrifying 2019 debut. “There’s definitely growing pains, but neither of us are trying to make every dollar we can,” Les told The Times.Credit…Ariel Fisher for The New York Times
John Cale has one of the most accomplished résumés in rock history, but for all his triumphs, he never quite became a household name like Lou Reed, his collaborator and sometimes antagonist. In his 80s, Cale is still making music and mentoring the next generation.Credit…Chantal Anderson for The New York Times
The country superstar Wynonna Judd lost her mother and longtime singing partner, Naomi Judd, to suicide last year.Credit…Thea Traff for The New York Times

“On the night I met Judd, I think she was still mourning the loss of her mother, but she was very calm and stoic as she carried on with the opening night of the tour without her. Here, we were in her dressing room together. I wanted to show the focused, almost trance-like state she was in as she powered through the loss and carried on with the show. (She sprayed the hair spray for over 60 seconds, and we were surrounded by fumes.)” — Thea Traff

From left, Michelle Williams, Hong Chau, Steven Spielberg, Jamie Lee Curtis and Tom Cruise at this year’s Oscars luncheon, which was held at a Beverly Hills ballroom in February.Credit…Sinna Nasseri for The New York Times

“Tom Cruise seemed to have a moment of primal connection with nearly everyone in the room. Here you can see him embracing Jamie Lee Curtis as Steven Spielberg, Hong Chau and Michelle Williams wait in the wings.” — Sinna Nasseri

In the years since her debut, “Take Me Apart,” the R&B innovator Kelela researched, processed and prepared to make an even bolder statement. The result of that work was “Raven,” which was released in February.Credit…Gioncarlo Valentine for The New York Times
Jason Moran’s album “From the Dancehall to the Battlefield,” released this year, puts the 1910s jazz of James Reese Europe through a contemporary prism. Jazz isn’t dead, Moran told The Times.Credit…Gioncarlo Valentine for The New York Times

“I’ve long admired Jason Moran as a full, ranging, complex Black musician who is committed to caring for our Black musical histories. Getting the opportunity to photograph him in his home was a serious honor. Watching him play the piano, his limber fingers gliding across the keys faster than my eyes could follow, was meditative and transfixing, like watching the whirling dervishes.” — Gioncarlo Valentine


Leaning in to community, craft and imagination: Sharleen Chidiac, left, and Jade Manns, two founders of Pageant, a performance space in Brooklyn.Credit…OK McCausland for The New York Times

“Shooting dance can be difficult because things move very quickly. When I saw the dancers enter this particular position, I knew I had to ask them to hold it for a photo, because it exemplified their relationship with one another, onstage and off.” — OK McCausland

It was a record year at the Oscars for Asian and Asian American actors, directors, musicians and other artists. Hong Chau was nominated for best supporting actress for her role as Liz, the stern but kind friend of an obese teacher in “The Whale.”Credit…Justin J Wee for The New York Times

“Hong was part of a New York Times Oscars portfolio on Asian American nominees, and I wanted the little pocket mirror Hong is holding to represent the piercing and nuanced reflections these artists gave to us through their movies.” — Justin J Wee

Plane spotters are everywhere in the world, but dramatically so in Los Angeles, where one is primed to view the everyday cinematically and the distance between person and airplane can feel as thrillingly thin as the space between Cary Grant and the crop duster in Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest.”Credit…Sinna Nasseri for The New York Times
In its final season, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” wanted to go out the way it came in: fabulously, in heels and with a dizzying words-to-minutes ratio. Rachel Brosnahan, its star, received five Emmy Award nominations for best actress in a comedy over the course of the show, and won one.Credit…Heather Sten for The New York Times

“We were at Wo Hop in Manhattan’s Chinatown, and the room was so small that only the director, camera operator, assistant director and I could squeeze into a corner without appearing on camera. The costume design alongside the colorful space was unbelievable — and surrounded by only the cast and extras, it strangely felt like I was transported to the ’60s!” — Heather Sten

Yayoi Kusama’s exhibition titled “I Spend Each Day Embracing Flowers” was on display at David Zwirner Gallery in Manhattan through July.Credit…Peter Fisher for The New York Times
She’s known for playing offbeat characters in “Russian Doll,” “High Maintenance” and “Girls,” but this year, Greta Lee won raves for her restrained performance in “Past Lives.” “I’ve played a lot of larger-than-life people,” she told The Times. “This is entirely different.”Credit…Chantal Anderson for The New York Times
Evoking a canyon, the $465 million Gilder Center at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan opened this year.Credit…Peter Fisher for The New York Times
After rising to fame in the music world, Teyana Taylor started a new chapter with a commanding performance in “A Thousand and One,” which won the grand jury prize in the U.S. dramatic competition at the Sundance Film Festival in January.Credit…Erik Carter for The New York Times
Two months and 25 shows into Taylor Swift’s career-spanning Eras Tour, it arrived in the New York area in May for three weekend concerts. Some fans listened to the performance from the parking lot.Credit…Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet for The New York Times

“Maybe these were Swifties or possibly Swifties’ parents. Either way, these particular fans seemed content enjoying the concert from afar.” — Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet

Some of Graham Nash’s close musical partners, including David Crosby, have died since January. He knows his life’s work is increasingly a race against mortality: “I’m still healthy, but so was David. I could drop dead in the middle of this conversation.”Credit…Daniel Arnold for The New York Times
When Cillian Murphy got Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” screenplay, he saw immediately that the story was entirely about his character: “It was written in the first person, the only script I had ever read like that. I knew what he would demand from me.”Credit…Robbie Lawrence for The New York Times
Many of visuals of “The Magic Flute,” at the Metropolitan Opera, were created in plain view. The artist Blake Habermann contributed drawings and ingenious effects to live projections.Credit…Lila Barth for The New York Times

“This photo was taken during a rehearsal, and watching the projectionist work in real time — watching him adjust and refine his technique — was illuminating. The amount of work and precision juxtaposed with the gesture and improvisational quick nature of his drawings really drew me in.” — Lila Barth

Patrick Scott McDermott pointed a replica gun at Alec Baldwin as filming resumed on “Rust” in April, 18 months after a revolver Baldwin was rehearsing with discharged, killing the film’s cinematographer.Credit…Todd Heisler/The New York Times

“A light snow dusted the ground as the cast and crew of ‘Rust’ prepared for the first scene of the rebooted production at the Yellowstone Film Ranch in Montana. When photographing performances or film sets, I aim to step back and create images that show the elements of the filmmaking process overall. There’s an obvious subtext here, but the context — the Montana landscape, the crew, the equipment — is an important counterweight to balance it.” — Todd Heisler

A few years ago, Will Poulter was bullied on social media for his looks, but he buffed up to play Adam Warlock in this year’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.” It’s enough to give a guy whiplash. “Psychologically, I’m still 5-foot-4,” he told The Times.Credit…Rosie Marks for The New York Times
The soprano Juliet Fraser in “Plans for Future Operas,” by the Norwegian composer Oyvind Torvund, at the Borealis experimental music festival in Norway in March. The festival is a rare space for lively exploration in the field of experimental music.Credit…David B. Torch for The New York Times
Alice Dyches, a singer-songwriter who fell for “The Phantom of the Opera” while growing up in South Carolina, expresses her love for the show, which ended its record-breaking Broadway run in April, with tattoos.Credit…Lucia Buricelli for The New York Times
Harrison Ball, who has overcome drug and alcohol addiction, retired this year from the New York City Ballet at age 30. “If I didn’t have the ballet to show up to every day, I don’t know if I would have lived,” he told The Times.Credit…Lanna Apisukh for The New York Times
The Broadway comedy “Peter Pan Goes Wrong” was full of daring, flying sequences. What did it take to pull them off? Countless rehearsals and a constellation of bruises.Credit…Dolly Faibyshev for The New York Times

“There is a moment in the production when Greg Tannahill, who played Peter Pan, goes ‘flying’ with intentional haphazardness through the air while harnessed in a flying rig. This skillfully performed moment of planned chaos goes by in the blink of an eye, so I took advantage of every single frame before, during and after the scene. The show is about chaos, so I had no choice but to embrace it and try to anticipate and chase this moment. It all happened so fast I didn’t have time to think, I had to just shoot.” — Dolly Faibyshev

Genevieve Penn Nabity, left, and Calley Skalnik of the National Ballet of Canada performed in David Dawson’s “Anima Animus” at New York City Center.Credit…Rachel Papo for The New York Times
Chita Rivera reflects on theater’s golden age in her memoir, which published in April and traces the three-time Tony Award winner’s life and career working with Balanchine, Robbins and Fosse.Credit…Philip Montgomery for The New York Times

“The life of Chita Rivera is defined by movement. When I photographed her, at age 90, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect of the legendary Broadway star. The moment she stepped into frame, her charisma and energy filled the room. Onstage, Chita is timeless.” — Philip Montgomery


Though John Corbett did not always appreciate the way he was typecast as a decent, hunky character by playing Aidan in “Sex and the City,” he was happy to revive the role in the HBO show’s reboot, “And Just Like That…”Credit…Chantal Anderson for The New York Times

“I photographed John at his ranch a few hours outside of LA. It was a very warm, dry day, and at the end of the shoot, I motioned to the pool and asked John, ‘How does swimming sound?’” — Chantal Anderson

Lotto Royale, part of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s River to River Festival, was like a blind date: Audience members reserved a time slot and were paired with dance artists through a lottery system. “Maybe we don’t want each other,” said the dance artist Lauren Bakst. “But what can we do together?”Credit…Evelyn Freja for The New York Times
Born with a rare genetic disorder, the multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily felt like a permanent outsider as a child. He now wields those lessons as one of music’s most coveted collaborators. “It’s crazy to be 51 and still have so much unresolved trauma,” Ismaily told The Times.Credit…Mark Sommerfeld for The New York Times
Cassandra Trenary, the American Ballet Theater principal dancer who played Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet” over the summer during the company’s Metropolitan Opera House season, is on a mission to pull classical dance into the present through the drama of being real.Credit…Thea Traff for The New York Times

“I was amazed by how embodied Trenary was. I thought a principal ballerina might be very controlled, but she was so raw and authentic both as a person and in the way she danced.” — Thea Traff

Solidarity in a siloed city: Members of the dance companies that were part of the Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project’s 2023 cohort hold one another in a friendly scrum. The 10 companies shared the stage at Ravinia, an outdoor pavilion in Highland Park, in September.Credit…Mustafa Hussain for The New York Times
Each year, The Times photographs Tony Award nominees and talks with them about their craft. In 2023, we focused on actors. “I had a desire once to be a lawyer,” Wendell Pierce, who was nominated for playing Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” told us. “I had a desire once to be an architect. I had a desire to be a painter. But then I realized I could be all those things as an actor.”Credit…Thea Traff for The New York Times
From left, Bosevich4, Chris Dubbs and Bizzness at the Trap NY, one of several battle rap leagues based in New York City, in January. Battle rap is an art form and a sport, as well as an industry that has been slowly growing over the last decade.Credit…Christopher Lee for The New York Times
At Rockaway Beach, Queens, Merce Cunningham’s “Beach Birds” came to life in a setting where the sand, the sea and real birds created, along with 11 dancers, a humming summer landscape.Credit…Amir Hamja/The New York Times

“All the dancers moved so gracefully, I genuinely felt like I was photographing actual birds. I wanted to be as close to the dancers as possible to feel like I was a part of the flock. In this frame, the dancer on the sand was the first one to move away from the group: just like any bird that suddenly leaves the flock and the other follows after.” — Amir Hamja

At Camp Realize Your Beauty, a four-day summer camp in Colorado, theater is one of the ways campers learn about body positivity and empowerment.Credit…Shelby Knowles for The New York Times
A graduating senior on the last day of class with Alicia Graf Mack at the Juilliard School, in New York. “Shifting the atmosphere” has been a core goal of Mack, the dean and director of Juilliard’s dance division, who saw the first class she admitted graduate in 2023.Credit…Elliott Jerome Brown Jr. for The New York Times
Dead & Company concertgoers twirled on the floor of Citi Field in New York in June. The last shows on the band’s Final Tour were in July in San Francisco, where the Grateful Dead got its start. The Times talked to fans about the band’s enduring appeal.Credit…Peter Fisher for The New York Times

“Dead shows are one of the few places where I can find myself completely enveloped in my own world yet feel connected to the thousands around me by a single thread of music. I wasn’t exactly thinking about that when I took this photo, but this woman exemplified that feeling perfectly. It’s a feeling that keeps us coming back show after show after show after show.” — Peter Fisher


Elizabeth Debicki felt a profound sense of responsibility while portraying Princess Diana in the last season of “The Crown.”Credit…Jingyu Lin for The New York Times

“Elizabeth is someone who holds such grace and height that just exudes so magnetically on set. We were winding down, and I asked her if she could turn to her profile. The shape that her entire body held — neck extended, looking into the light — I knew that was the last shot.” — Jingyu Lin

U.F.O. Days takes over the small Wisconsin town of Elmwood one weekend every July. For some, it’s a place where they can share stories about the extraterrestrial experiences that have become part of the town’s lore. For most, it’s an excuse to get together with friends and family.Credit…Erinn Springer for The New York Times

“I attended U.F.O. Days as a kid, many years before I was a photographer. Returning to Elmwood for this shoot around a theme that’s long held America’s attention was a great way to reconnect with a place that’s always captivated my memory.” — Erinn Springer

At 85, Henry Diltz is one of the last great rock photographers still living (and working). His new book is a document of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; of the 1960s and their long aftermath; and is a record of Diltz’s own years of service at the front lines of the counterculture.Credit…Sinna Nasseri for The New York Times
The Rolling Stones opened up about how its first album of new songs since 2005, and first since the death of Charlie Watts, recharged the partnership of Mick Jagger, above, and Keith Richards.Credit…Thea Traff for The New York Times

“I wanted to create an image that shows the face he puts on for a crowd. I think this result is effective because it’s both performative and weird!” — Thea Traff

For her stage debut in “Danny and the Deep Blue Sea,” Aubrey Plaza, known for “The White Lotus” and “Parks and Recreation,” joined forces with Christopher Abbott. “We’re both unafraid to be ugly and weird and strange,” he said.Credit…Chantal Anderson for The New York Times
The Times’s dance critic spent time with four of the 122 children performing in “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker” with New York City Ballet, including an 11-year-old Ukrainian girl who had recently moved to the city.Credit…OK McCausland for The New York Times

“Even though these kids are on a world stage, they are able to lose themselves while they wait in line to enter their classroom. They don’t notice me or my camera; they are completely living in the moment.” — OK McCausland

Alicia Keys said the goal with “Hell’s Kitchen,” her new Off Broadway musical inspired by her life, was “for it to be tremendously beloved and really something that comes into the world in a way that is just like a storm, an incredible storm.” The show will move to Broadway next year.Credit…Elias Williams for The New York Times
Since 2019, the French dance collective (La)Horde has been the directors of the Ballet National de Marseille. In 2023, they finally came to New York City.Credit…Benjamin Malapris for The New York Times
Nazim Sadykhov, top, and Viacheslav Borshchev, grappled on a Saturday in November in front of 19,000 fans in a U.F.C. mixed martial arts fight announced by Bruce Buffer, known for his baritone growl and “It’s time!” catchphrase.Credit…Thomas Prior for The New York Times
Charles Melton transformed himself for Todd Haynes’s new drama “May December.” As an actor, he’s caught between wanting to be seen and wanting to disappear. “Sometimes I feel this push and pull of, am I white enough, am I American enough, am I Asian enough?” Melton told The Times.Credit…Ryan Pfluger for The New York Times
In her memoir, “Worthy,” released this fall, Jada Pinkett Smith answered big questions, posed others to readers and set the record straight on her marriage to Will Smith.Credit…Erik Carter for The New York Times

“This was a light test and the first shot that afternoon — one of those happy accidents. She hit her mark, brought her hands together and took a breath. I checked my focus, framed my shot and took a breath. Then, both of us now composed, we began.” — Erik Carter

The choreographer Rachid Ouramdane with Compagnie de Chaillot acrobats at the Chaillot-Théâtre National de la Danse in Paris this year. “What really touched me was not so much the crazy things they were doing in the air, but the special attention they have to each other,” Ouramdane said of his experience working with acrobats.Credit…Elliott Verdier for The New York Times
For the singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading, classical music is just another genre. In November, she unveiled her first classical composition, Symphony No. 1.Credit…Max Miechowski for The New York Times
The death-row tale “Dead Man Walking,” adapted by Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally, opened the 2023-24 season of the Metropolitan Opera as part of its push for newer works.Credit…Lila Barth for The New York Times

“This was my attempt at capturing the voyeuristic nature of the audience in this production. In the final scene, they are very aware that they are watching something unfair unfold. I thought this view, paired with the enormity of the set and the color, showed an interesting angle on the production.” — Lila Barth

“I really can’t watch the trans community suffer and not make work about that. I find in my spirit that I don’t have a choice,” said Jade Kuriki-Olivo, a.k.a. Puppies Puppies, who transformed the lobby of the New Museum, in Manhattan, as part of her solo exhibit “Nothing New,” which began in October and runs through March.Credit…Camila Falquez for The New York Times
In a new memoir, “If You Would Have Told Me,” John Stamos, who couldn’t shake his breakthrough role on “Full House,” talks about honesty, sobriety and his grief over Bob Saget’s death.Credit…Sinna Nasseri for The New York Times

“John Stamos was the most energetic person I photographed this year, hands down. He was constantly in motion, cycling through poses and ideas. Once in a while, he’d flash me a look that seemed to stop the Earth’s rotation.” — Sinna Nasseri

On “Dancing With the Stars,” Derek Hough became one of the country’s most visible dancers. His 60-city “Symphony of Dance” tour, which started in the fall but was postponed in December because Hough had a family emergency, is rooted in ballroom and Latin dance, and includes tap, hip-hop and contemporary works.Credit…Bryan Birks for The New York Times
Emma Stone has starred in “The Favourite,” “Poor Things” and “Bleat,” all films directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. Of the role she took on in “Poor Things,” she said, “My God, she’s the greatest character I’ll probably ever get to play.”Credit…Thea Traff for The New York Times
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