Trying to pick my favourite exhibitions from this year has been quite a difficult task. I’ve seen some rubbish but I’ve also seen an awful lot of amazing shows – 2011 has been a strong year for the art calendar. In fact, reading back through Artista, I wonder how I have I managed to totter to so many galleries in the last few months. But, there’s always so much to see…
My favourite exhibitions really left their mark, those I can still immediately recall that still delight me. I’ve chosen the shows that weren’t just aesthetically pleasing but were also well-curated and academically interesting. These are the ones that tick all the boxes.
Towering at Tate – The Gerhard Richter exhibition that is still on show at Tate Modern is breath-taking, looking at Richter’s diverse oeuvre as an unbroken panorama. At Tate Britain, Vorticists win the prize – charting a short-lived movement, Tate aimed to place Vorticism in an international context, studying the impact of World War I on these artists.
Detail of one of Gerhard Richter’s Cage Paintings, 2006. Own photograph.
Rocking at the Royal Academy – The Royal Academy’s upstairs gallery has to have one of the strongest exhibition programmes in London. It’s a tie for the best show there this year between the recent Soviet Art and Architecture and Eyewitness: Hungarian Photography.
Martin Munkácsi, Four Boys at Lake Tanganyika, c. 1930. Image via www.bbc.co.uk.
Knockout at the National Gallery – For me, Drenched in Devotion stole the show this year. Looking at altarpieces in their context, the NG examined their structure and relationship to the surrounding architecture, following the formal, stylistic and typological developments across the period of focus. One room was even turned into a chapel.
Room two in Devotion by Design. Image via www.independent.co.uk.
Leaving London – Revealed: Turner Contemporary Opens was an extremely strong exhibition to launch another new public art gallery designed, of course, by David Chipperfield. Highlights were from Daniel Buren and Conrad Shawcross.
Daniel Buren, Borrowing and Multiplying the Landscape, 2011. Own photograph.
Also with podium finishes were:
Going for Gold – Haunch’s Mystery of Appearance with some of Britain’s most important painters – Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach, Francis Bacon, Patrick Caulfield, William Coldstream, Lucian Freud, Richard Hamilton, David Hockney, Leon Kossoff and Euan Uglow. Need I say more…
Upstairs at Haunch with David Hockney, The Room Tarzana, 1967. Own photograph.
Striking Silver – The Cult of Beauty at the V&A looked at art, from 1860-1900, created purely for its own sake to provide pleasure and beauty.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Bocca Baciata, 1859. Image via www.vam.ac.uk.
Bright Bronze – Future Tense’s Spectra I focused on colour – a simple concept but one that was wonderfully addressed with some of the best lighting I’ve seen this year.
Lee Baker, Refractive Monolith, 2011. Own photograph.
and last but by no means least – Runner Up – the brilliant Anthony McCall taking over Ambika P3 with his entrancing light works that combined cinema, drawing and sculpture.
Anthony McCall, Vertical Works, 2011. Image via http://www.dontpaniconline.com.
Aaah… but there was also the shoes exhibition, Rembrandt and Bacon at Ordovas, Nicola Hicks and Mona Kuhn at Flowers, the many brilliant shows at Josh Lilley and the poignant timing of Lisson’s Ai Weiwei show. What a year! To look back at these exhibitions, use the categories or tags on the right hand side of the screen to make scrolling that bit easier.
Carla Busuttil at the Josh Lilley Galley. Image via www.joshlilleygallery.com
Let’s hope that 2012 can move on from the success of these shows and be bigger, better and braver than ever before. I’ll be there, in my stilettos, doing the rounds.
In the meantime, thank you for reading Artista. A Merry Christmas and a Happy Shoe Year to you all.
(Check back next week for a look at The Courtauld’s current drawing exhibition.)