The Top 10 Gallery Shows of 2013

Artsy Editorial
Dec 19, 2013 9:41PM

Based on their popularity on Artsy.

10. “Pieter Hugo: Kin” at Yossi Milo Gallery, New York. Featuring works from Hugo’s eight-year “Kin” series, the exhibition was an exploration of South Africa through portraits, landscapes, and still lifes, grappling with issues of colonization, economic disparity, and racial identity. Hugo describes the project as “an engagement with the failure of the South African colonial experiment and my sense of being ‘colonial driftwood’.”

9. “Miquel Barceló” at Acquavella Galleries, New York. Barceló’s first solo American exhibition in a decade, the show featured two distinct bodies of works by the Spanish artist. The first was a series of 22 monochromatic white paintings, whose subtle textural variations reference the artist’s native Majorca. The second series of chalk, bleach, and charcoal works capture eerie, ghostlike portraits of Barceló’s friends and family.

8. “Calligraffiti 1984/2013” at Leila Heller Gallery, New York. Originally curated by Jeffrey Deitch in 1984 and mounted at Heller’s former uptown space, this revived group exhibition tracks the connections between seemingly disparate traditions of graffiti, Modernism, and Middle-Eastern calligraphy. “A calligraphic impulse has been behind some of the greatest works of Modern Art,” Deitch has said.

7. “William Tillyer: The Watering Place” at Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London. Coinciding with the artist’s 75th birthday, this exhibition featured two bodies of Tillyer’s work: “The Watering Place”, a reference to a Peter Paul Rubens landscape masterpiece by the same name, and the eponymous “Palmer”, based on renowned painter Samuel Palmer. Although abstract, Tillyer situates his work within the Romantic landscape tradition.

6. “Jon Rafman: You are standing in an open field” at Zach Feuer, New York. Rafman’s first solo NYC gallery exhibition featured works across digital and analog media, coalescing around the artist’s interest in preserving lost culture and the “historical impulse to make sacred what is lost.” Included were several prints of Modernist artworks projected onto artifacts and interiors, as well as an interactive re-imagining of the video game Max Payne.

5. “Damien Hirst & Felix Gonzalez-Torres | Candy” at Blain | Southern, London. This exhibition united Hirst’s entire “Visual Candy” series for the first time, a body of work made in the early 1990s as a direct rebuttal to a critic who dismissed Hirst’s work as “just visual candy.” A signature Felix Gonzalez-Torres candy spill was presented as counterpoint, inviting visitors to participate by taking and eating the colorful cellophane-wrapped confections.

4. “Jung Lee” at Green Art Gallery, Dubai. Korean photographer Lee has made a big splash over the past two years, exhibiting in Seoul and, in this case, Dubai her “Aporia” and “Day and Night” series—lush photographs of sentimental, romantic phrases written in neon and set amidst harsh, often barren landscapes. Her work is inspired by a Roland Barthes essay, A Lover’s Discourse, in which an allegorical figure endlessly searches for signs that he is in love.

3. “Irving Penn: On Assignment” at Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York. Penn’s 60 years spent as a professional photographer were displayed in photographs, magazines, and ephemera that reveal the breadth and depth of his legacy. Images taken while working on assignment for The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and Look found their place among advertising campaigns for Clinique and De Beers, and notably, the iconic image of jazz legend Miles Davis’ left hand, commissioned for the cover of his 1986 album, Tutu.

2. “Cecily Brown” at Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills. This major exhibition featured recent paintings by one of today’s pre-eminent painters, Cecily Brown. The works continue her career-long exploration of representing the female nude with varying degrees of abstraction and representation, with minor details—a smile, a lock of hair—giving way to broad gestural sweeps of paint.

1. “Yu-ichi Inoue” at Tomio Koyama, Tokyo. Coming in at the top spot, this show featured 10 works by Yu-ichi that had previously been exhibited at the 11th Sharjah Biennial. Often seen as Japan’s answer to Abstract Expressionism, the painter made a controversial name for himself on his rejection of traditional modes of calligraphy. Since his death in 1985, his reputation has only continued to climb.

Explore the rest of our 2013 highlights and discover artists to watch in 2014!

Artsy Editorial