The Top 10 Museum Exhibitions of 2013
Based on visitors on Artsy.
10. “Come Together: Surviving Sandy”. Turning a deep-Brooklyn commercial space into temporary exhibition space, “Come Together” was curated by Phong Bui in collaboration with The Dedalus Foundation, Industry City, and the Jamestown Foundation, in solidarity with the many artists affected by Hurricane Sandy. “With well-known names but mainly lesser-known local artists, this exhibition verified that New York is as alive and brilliant as ever,” wrote Jerry Saltz in calling it the top exhibition of 2013. “Maybe more so, with artists spread out into all the boroughs, living poor but with style. Which is one of the foundational conditions of any great indigenous art scene.”
9. “Ai Weiwei: According to What” at Pérez Art Museum Miami. The first major international survey of renowned activist artist Ai Weiwei helped inaugurate PAMM during Art Basel in Miami Beach. The traveling exhibition featured a wide range of the artist’s provocative social, political, and cultural artworks from the past two decades, such as He Xie, an incredibly lifelike pile of orange and brown crabs made from porcelain—a reference to a celebratory feast held at Ai’s studio shortly before the Chinese government razed it.
8. “Rudolf Stingel” at Palazzo Grassi, Venice. “Of all the impressive exhibitions in Venice right now, Rudolf Stingel’s current show at Palazzo Grassi is hands down one of the most sumptuous, staggeringly gorgeous installations ever,” our chief curator wrote of her visit to the Venetian palazzo taken over by textile. “Because all of the spaces are transformed by carpeting, you feel how your orientation in the space informs your perspective. Stingel makes the experience of art about pleasure and beauty again.”
7. “Cai Guo-Qiang: Da Vincis do Povo” in Brazil (traveling). Finding parallels between the modernization of Brazil and his native China, Cai Guo-Qiang re-imagined his “Peasant Da Vincis” project, originally designed to honor the contributions of peasant inventors of China, to suit the landscape of Brazil. The new iteration, “Da Vincis do Povo,” began in Brasília, traveled to São Paulo, and ended its journey Rio de Janeiro, where the whimsical, scrap material inventions of peasants were displayed alongside Cai’s large-scale gunpowder drawings.
6. “Chagall: Beyond Color” at Dallas Museum of Art. Although Chagall is better known for his paintings, this exhibition highlighted the lesser-known but equally captivating works by the artist across watercolor, sculpture, and hand-painted ballet costumes—all evidencing the same preoccupation with vibrant color. As he once remarked: “Color is all. When color is right, form is right.”
5. “Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art” at the British Museum, London. Shunga, literally “spring pictures”, is an erotic artistic tradition that emerged from early modern Japan, whose graphic images of sexual activity were produced by the thousands during the Edo period (1600-1868). As the popular exhibition’s curator Tim Clark described, “at its best, shunga celebrates the pleasures of lovemaking, in beautiful pictures that present mutual attraction and sexual desire as natural and unaffected.”
4. “Tracey Emin: Angel Without You” at MOCA, North Miami. Coinciding with Art Basel in Miami Beach, MOCA, North Miami opened Emin’s first solo exhibition at an American museum, which is also the first-ever museum exhibition to focus on her crucial body of works in neon. Featuring over 60 works by Emin from the past two decades, the show was an appropriate choice for the museum, which became the first in America to purchase one of her works when it acquired her film Why I Never Became a Dancer in 1998.
3. “Richard Artschwager!” at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. “I think everyone involved with the exhibition felt that it was time for people to see the arc of Artschwager’s career again, since he was an artist who was always experimenting and trying new things,” Hammer Museum curator Anne Ellegood told us. Co-mounted by Yale University Art Gallery and the Whitney Museum, the L.A. iteration of “Richard Artschwager!” coincided with a city-wide installation of his famous “blps”.
2. “At the Window: The Photographer’s View” at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles. This exhibition explored the role of the window through the history of photography, from the first picture taken in 1826 to contemporary artists like Gregory Crewdson. “The window has been a recurrent and powerful theme for photographers from the beginning of the medium,” said curator Karen Hellman. “In a collection such as the Getty’s that is particularly rich in work by important photographers from the beginnings of the medium to the present day, the motif provides a unique way to travel through the history of photography.”
1. “James Turrell” at the Guggenheim Museum, New York. Without a doubt the exhibition of summer 2013 in New York, “James Turrell” was also the most visited museum show of the year on Artsy. Centered around Turrell’s rotunda-filling Aten Reign, the show was described most aptly by New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl as “air-conditioning for the eye and, if you’re gamely susceptible, the soul.”