The year’s best art
What a year. Digital Feminists kicked the art world (and Ryder Ripps) into shape. Duncan Campbell won the Turner Prize. ArtRank formerly know as SellYouLater became the art world’s dirtiest pleasure. And then there were the exhibitions. It is impossible to be impartial when choosing the best shows of year – hell, there’s no way a single individual can see everything. (Missing the Gwangju Biennale is a personal regret). These ten, however, were incredible, awesome, superlative exhibitions that deserve a round of applause.
PIERRE HUYGHE AT HAUSER AND WIRTH, SAVILE ROW
Pierre Huyghe’s first show with Hauser and Wirth was astounding. A stone sculpture that felt warm to the touch. Aquariums with psychedelic orange pond water from Monet’s garden. An exceptional film of an uncanny monkey wandering around wearing a Japanese geisha mask. An artist constantly and uniquely redefining what art is.
KERRY JAMES MARSHALL AT M HKA ANTWERP
Kerry James Marshall is increasingly getting the international attention he deserves. This big retrospective in Antwerp included some of his older collage work, comic strip pieces and history paintings. But the highlight were three huge canvases in largely red, green and black – which demonstrated how he simply keeps getting better in his redefinition of the representation of Blackness.
KP BREHMER OR YVONNE RAINER AT RAVEN ROW LONDON
It would be easy to say Raven Row is the most intelligent space in London. There were two stand out shows there this year impossible to choose from. One was a wildly good retrospective of the dance-art of Yvonne Rainer which included regular performances of her work. The other brought together the political work of Polke contemporary KP Brehmer. Shows so good art feels good again.
Henrot had two incredible solo shows this year – one at London’s Chisenhale the other at NYC’s New Museum. Both perfectly encapsulated her ability to mix nature, travel, pop ephemera, tech culture and life into a perfect amalgam. A truly incredible young artist who continues to wow without bending to her audience.
ART AND SOUND AT FONDAZIONE PRADA, VENICE
Fondazione Prada outdid themselves with this show. Bringing together old instruments, sound works, kinetic sculptures and art pieces involving music.
McCarthy’s chocolate factory at Paris’ mint could have been old news if it hadn’t been for the energy it harnessed after the artist was attacked over placing a buttplug Christmas tree outside the Louvre. In response he projected a last minute video over the entire show of him violently scrawling the attackers words ‘Are you the fucking artist?’ and created one of his most angry and powerful works in years.
ISA GENZKEN AT MCA CHICAGO
This show was originally staged at MoMA in NYC last year but it wandered over to the MCA Chicago and was still incredible. From her scrapbooks from her time hanging around in NYC in the early 90s to incredible mannequin assemblage pieces and perfect abstract glitter tape wall works – Genzken is an artist who is outshining all her big arse male contemporaries.
There was a moment in Atkins’ solo show at the Serpentine Sackler building when the ghostly talking and singing voices in his digital films spread around the space all harmonised together. It was sheer aural perfection. The looped bloodied disembodied bouncing head falling down virtual stairs was also impossible to forget. Atkins understood the way to use this new space perfectly.
MICHAEL SMITH AT TRAMWAY, GLASGOW
This retrospective brought much deserved attention for an artist who seemed to slip off the map in the last decade. This beautifully installed show, which coincided with Glasgow International, exuded humour, intelligence and a perfect critical take on (American) pop culture. As his fake promo art film put it ‘Go for it Mike!’
THE MOVING MUSEUM, ISTANBUL
This two-floor exhibition in an underground car park in Istanbul deserves serious recognition for making something impossible possible. The show brought together artist from the city (Lara Ogel, Volkan Aslan) as well as international hot names (Hannah Perry, David Douard) to create a loose group show that did something to capture a generation.