Top 10 London Art exhibitions of 2009

ArtLyst’s Top 10 exhibitions of 2009

1)Anish Kapoor 2) Roger Hiorns 3). John Baldessari 4) The Museum of Everything 5) Gerhard Richter Portraits 6) Pete and Repeat 7) Pop Life: Art in a Material World 8) Gustav Metzger 9) Gerry Judah : BABYLON 10) Ryan McGinley Moonmilk


1. Anish Kapoor Sep 26-Dec 11, Royal Academy of Arts London

The Royal Academy of Art  presented  a major solo exhibition by the renowned sculptor and Turner Prize winner, Anish Kapoor. The exhibition featured some of his early pigment pieces as well as later mirrored sculptures including a large-scale public sculpture reminiscent of floating mirrored bubbles. My favourite piece in the exhibition was the moving train of red wax which squeezed it’s way through an arch and had the ominous look of a slaughter house.

2) Roger Hiorns  Start   23 Jul 2009   End 18 Oct 2009  151 – 189 Harper Rd London

Artist Roger Hiorns experiments with unusual materials to effect surprising transformations on found objects and urban situations. Fire emerges from storm drains, perfume permeates metal surfaces, and copper sulphate crystals colonise industrial objects. SEIZURE was Hiorns’ most ambitious work to date and his first major sculptural project within an urban site, and it marked a radical shift in scale and context in his work. The artist encouraged the growth of an unexpected crystal form within a low-rise late-20th century modernist development near the Elephant & Castle in south London.75,000 litres of copper sulphate solution were pumped into the council flat to create a strangely beautiful and somewhat menacing crystalline growth on the walls, floor, ceiling and bath of this abandoned dwelling.

3). John Baldessari  Oct 13-Jan 10 2010, Tate Modern London

John Baldessari is widely regarded as of one of the foremost conceptual artists. This is the first major retrospective of his work in the UK. Baldessari’s work often attempts to point out irony in contemporary art theory and practices. This show brought together all aspects of the legendary Californian artist oeuvre. From his early photo-and-text works, through his extensive use of ‘outsourced’ imagery in the Combined Photographs, the irregular shaped and over-painted works of the 1990s, as well as his most recent production. Video, prints and the artist’s production of books, posters and ephemera will also be included this exhibition; particular attention will be paid to Baldessari’s lesser known works and installations.

4) The Museum of Everything  Oct 13- Dec 23, The Museum of Everything Primrose Hill London
This extraordinary private collection of outsider art  sympathetically installed in a disused dairy and accompanied by endorsements from major cultural luminaries  showed the imaginative, spontaneous power of creation, within an environment perfectly suited to the works’ needs.

5) Gerhard Richter Portraits    Feb 26-May 31 2009, National Portrait Gallery London

1960-2009 Figurative works by this leading German contemporary painter
Just when the camera seemed to obliterate the need for painting, along came Gerhard Richter to reassert paint’s primacy over mechanised reproduction. The shot, the new photo and the family snap were all grist to his dragged brush and this excellent exhibition peeled away.

6) Pete and Repeat  176 The Zabludowicz collection London

An exhibition drawn entirely from the Zabludowicz Collection, featured works by 35 artists from 15 countries using  strategies of repetition. Whether by irresistibly returning to a subject or theme, remaking a canonical work of art, serialising a formal element or demonstrating persistent patterns of behaviour, the works in Pete and Repeat all operate in the realm of repetition. Together, they generate a game of ‘Spot the Difference’, inviting the viewer to ponder what those differences reveal about the works themselves and our assumptions about originality, authenticity and creation.
The exhibition was accompanied by an ambitious series of talks and debates, and a publication for which artists in Pete and Repeat were invited to write about specific works in the show, and which also included a selection of new and reprinted texts about ideas relevant to the exhibition.

7) Pop Life: Art in a Material World  Tate Modern  London Start  1 October    End 17 Jan 2010
Work by Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol . Pop Life: Art in a Material World looks at how artists since the 1980s have promoted their work by cultivating strong media personas and creating their own brand. The Tate had their own bit of  media ‘frenzy’ history when a work by  Richard Prince was censored by the  police and removed by the morality squad. Maybe Cressida Dick should change her name.

8) Gustav Metzger : 29 Sep 2009 End 08 Nov 2009 The Serpentine Gallery

A major survey of work from six decades by the influential artist and activist Gustav Metzger. Metzger’s practice represents a life-long involvement in left-wing politics, ecology and the creative and destructive powers of twentieth and twenty-first century industrialised societies. This will be the first time such an extensive overview of Metzger’s work has been presented in the UK. Metzger is working closely with the Serpentine Gallery to examine his own archives and those kept by institutions, identifying milestone works from his career and developing new works specifically for this exhibition.

9) Gerry Judah : BABYLON  Flowers East London  Start 20 Nov  End 24 Dec

Gerry Judah’s abstract paintings of bombed-out buildings captured the terrible price of modern warfare, from Baghdad to Belgrade. Ruins hide things  not just the memory of what they were, but the memories they still contain.  For years after the Lebanese civil war ended, I would prowl the ruins of downtown Beirut – as a journalist, of course, but truth forces me to admit that I was searching for something more than a reporter’s stories – to find that the poor had gravitated into the collapsed buildings, into the wreckage of dentists’ shops and post offices and stores.  These troglodytes, whole families of them, had fled from their own ruins in southern Lebanon – bombed by the Israelis – to seek sanctuary in bigger ruins.  They were there with their children and their grandparents, with a litter of precious pots and bowls and gas fires and damp bedding, gaunt in the winter cold as the rain guttered down the walls, sweating through the humid summers until the bulldozers came to drive them out.

10) Ryan McGinley : MOONMILK  Start 11 Sep  End 08 Oct Alison Jacques Gallery London

Alison Jacques Gallery  presented the first UK solo show of acclaimed American artist Ryan McGinley with an exhibition of 24 new colour photographs shot in caves across North America. Over the last year, McGinley and his crew explored huge caves underground, venturing into unknown territory, seeking out spectacular natural spaces, some previously undocumented. The title of the show “Moonmilk” alludes to the crystalline deposits found on the walls of many caves; it was once believed that this substance was formed by light from celestial bodies passing through rock into darkened worlds below. A book of McGinley’s new photographs was also published by Morel books to coincide with the  London show.