ABN’s Top 20 Art Exhibitions of the Past Year
By Hillary Casavant
Each year, exciting museum and gallery exhibits turn heads and leave lasting impressions on the art world. From retrospec-tives of art legends to debuts by tomorrow’s shining stars, these shows challenge viewers and excite artists, critics and collectors alike. Here are 20 exhibits from the past year that still have us buzzing.
BASED ON ACTUAL EVENTS
Jonathan LeVine Gallery, New York City
2014 kicked off with an eye-popping array of photo-realistic art by Alyssa Monks, Diego Koi, Eloy Morales and Joel Rea. The exhibition explored contemporary realism, hyperrealism and surrealism through a vibrant range of styles and mediums. Morales will return to the gallery for a solo exhibition next May.
CALDER AND ABSTRACTION: FROM AVANT-GARDE TO ICONIC
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
A revolutionary of modern sculpture, Alexander Calder produced mesmerizing kinetic mobiles propelled by motors and air currents. His monumental freestanding structures are equally innovative, dynamic and surreal. This exhibit featured 50 metal objects and installations from Calder’s striking portfolio.
SYLVIA FEIN: SURREAL NATURE
Krowswork, Oakland, California
At 94, Sylvia Fein stirred critics last winter with five luminous new paintings. The tree series, created as an elegy to her husband, appeared alongside 22 other works from her rich, accomplished career. Using a unique egg tempera medium, Fein creates surreal imagery of a natural world brushed lightly with magic.
The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
Boston exploded with color when Nick Cave took over The Institute of Contemporary Art last winter. In addition to his renowned full-body “soundsuits,” costumes crafted from unconventional objects, the exhibit showcased the artist’s latest collection of freestanding sculptures, bursting with ceramic figurines, beads and other found objects.
GEORGES BRAQUE: A RETROSPECTIVE
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
After premiering at the Grand Palais in Paris, this show traveled to the only U.S. stop on the tour, accompanied by loans from public and private art collections across Europe and the U.S. The retrospective featured 75 significant works of art from Braque’s career, showcasing his achievements in modern art and influential development of cubism.
SHADES OF WHITE
Traver Gallery, Seattle
As winter gave way to spring, Seattle explored the reductive trends that have recently emerged in contemporary art and design. The works by 24 nationally renowned artists explore the removal of color and its aesthetic effect on myriad mediums, including wood, glass and sculpture.
FRUITS, FLOWERS, OBJECTS
Handwright Gallery, New Canaan, Connecticut
Spring came to full bloom at this exhibit, which paired traditional still life florals alongside more contemporary interpretations of the genre. Oil paintings by Rebecca Leer, mixed media pieces from Rachel Miller and eye-catching acrylic work by Marzena Oberc-Habzda were just some of the standout pieces in the show.
UNBOUND: CONTEMPORARY ART AFTER FRIDA KAHLO
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
In 1978, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago hosted Frida Kahlo’s first U.S. solo museum exhibition. More than three decades later, the museum’s curators placed two of Kahlo’s works from the original exhibit alongside a selection of contemporary artists who share Kahlo’s rebellious, passionate and socially conscious spirit.
SAIL INTO SUMMER ANNUAL GROUP SHOW
Louisa Gould Gallery, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
This show captured the lush atmosphere of summer on the Vineyard. The lovely collection of landscape and still-life paintings included new work by the gallery’s artists, including Doug Kent, Adam Thompson, Donna Blackburn and Laura Roberts.
Asian Art Museum, San Francisco
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Asian Art Museum joined forces to showcase 72 works spanning 2,200 years and dozens of cultures. The collection challenged viewers with the beautiful and the bizarre in a wide range of paintings, sculptures, design pieces and photographs, all fluidly grouped by associations and themes.
JEFF KOONS: A RETROSPECTIVE
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Last summer, New York celebrated the vast career of popular and controversial artist Jeff Koons. Featuring 150 of his sculptures and creations, the show marked Koon’s first major museum representation in New York and the most comprehensive exhibit ever devoted to his work. If you’re traveling abroad in 2015, you can still catch the collection at museums in Paris and Bilbao, Spain.
SINCERELY YOURS: TREASURES FROM THE QUEEN CITY
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York
Back from a much-lauded show at the Denver Art Museum, this collection of renowned work returned home to Buffalo for the summer. Including paintings by Vincent van Gogh, Salvador Dalí, Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol, the extraordinary collection explored the nexus of contemporary art in the 20th century. You can catch the show at the next stops on the tour in San Diego; Bentonville, Arkansas; and Milwaukee.
THE COLOR OF NATURE: RECENT ACQUISITIONS OF LANDSCAPE WATERCOLORS
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Celebrating the rise of landscape watercolors over the last two centuries, this exhibit highlighted 15 of the 200 European and American watercolors and gouaches that have joined the National Gallery of Art’s collection in the past 10 years. With featured work by Louis Ducros and Félix Ziem, the exhibit highlighted the artists’ magnificent portrayal of light and nature.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Jamie Wyeth’s first comprehensive retrospective traced six decades of his career through 100 paintings, illustrations and combined mediums. The collection of portraits, landscapes and still lifes showcased his finite approach to realism. The show wraps up in Boston this December but will travel to museums in Pennsylvania, Texas and Arkansas in 2015.
DAVID HOCKNEY: THE ARRIVAL OF SPRING
Pace Gallery, New York City
Spring came early with David Hockney’s innovative collection of iPad prints, charcoal drawings and a video installation. The series examined the change of seasons in his home of East Yorkshire, England, captured through daily iPad drawings in spring 2011. The exhibit demonstrated Hockney’s love for a vast array of mediums and mastery of landscape art.
¡ORALE! KINGS AND QUEENS OF COOL
The Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, New Mexico
This four-part exhibition celebrates the post-pop art movement of West Coast surfer, street and car cultures, as well as Hispano expressions of northern New Mexico. With more than 150 works by 70 artists, the exhibit highlights graffiti, tattoos, post-pop illustrations, pinstriping and rock poster art, subverting ideas of “lowbrow art” and celebrating the “outsiders” of creation. Catch the show through January 2015.
David Castillo Gallery, Miami
More than 25 national and international artists—including Shinique Smith, Bjarne Melgaard and Paul DeMuro—brought a diverse array of conceptual sculptures, textiles, paintings, photography, installation and performance to the Miami gallery last September. The wide range of subject matter explored the various meanings of narrative, identity, discovery and abstraction.
MAPPING OUT THE MATRIX
Tinney Contemporary, Nashville
In a mind-bending blend of mathematics and art, Carol Prusa explores the geometries of the universe through 3-D pieces and illustrations based on physicists’ models. This past fall Tinney Contemporary paired her work alongside Sky Kim’s abstract watercolor paintings, which capture a similar view of the universe through dizzying, organic repetitions and patterns.
CÉZANNE AND THE MODERN: MASTERPIECES OF EUROPEAN ART FROM THE PEARLMAN COLLECTION
High Museum of Art, Atlanta
On view until January 2015, this exhibit offers an enticing selection of European Impressionist, post-Impressionist and modern art. Alongside 24 oil and watercolor works by Paul Cézanne, the exhibit also highlights work from Manet, Pissarro, Degas, Van Gogh and Modigliani. High Museum’s show marks the first international tour of this collection since 1974.
THE FOREVER NOW: CONTEMPORARY PAINTING IN AN ATEMPORAL WORLD
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Leading us into the new year, this exhibit features paintings from 17 artists who transcend the restrictions of the present through style, content and medium. Their timeless art samples past styles and movements, producing radical new interpretations that reshape the ideas of traditional painting. Catch the genre-bending work through April 2015.