2014 has been a great year for contemporary art exhibitions. The huge range of practices on display demonstrates the variety of artistic approaches being developed across the world. From Guy Bourdin to Barbara Kruger, Martin Creed to Annette Messager, all of the artists listed here demonstrate both skill and thought. We take a look at the top 10 exhibitions from 2014, considering why these shows were so important.
1. Martin Creed: What’s the point of it? Hayward Gallery, London
The first ever retrospective of Turner-prize winner Martin Creed opened at the Hayward Gallery, London, back in spring 2014, exposing the large body of work of the genre-defying artist. The exhibition, curated by Cliff Lauson, was described as “genre-defying” and included works from the past 25 years. Although, Creed had been the focus of several recent solo exhibitions this was the first major survey of his work and it was so popular the show was extended beyond it’s original end date.
2. Tobias Rehberger: Home and Away and Outside, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
An artist who stands between conventions and genres, Tobias Rehberger confronts his audience with joyful overstimulation, playful questioning and their own preconceptions. Home and Away and Outside was an inquisitive and multi-faceted kaleidoscope of an exhibition. The astonishing re-staging of one of Germany’s most influential and internationally renowned contemporary artists was fun, bewildering, enticing and dazzlingly hypnotic. The show was not a retrospective, but a re-presentation of Rehberger’s practice, which stands between art, design and architecture as a kind of site-specific Op Art.
3. Robert Heinecken: Object Matter, MoMA, New York
From magazines, newspapers and television to pornography and home photography, the art of Robert Heinecken is both a celebration and a critique of dissemination of the photographic image across culture. In Robert Heinecken: Object Matter, MoMA surveys the career of this influential artist whose work is heavily invested in and also sits alongside the medium of photography. As the first major exhibition to span Heinecken’s career since his death, the presentation reveals an artist whose work was a precursor to many techniques that define contemporary art practice.
4. Ernesto Neto: The Body That Carries Me, Guggenheim, Bilbao
The organic sculptures and magical universe of Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto took over the gallery at Guggenheim Bilbao, allowing Audiences to engage with art using their senses. The Frank Gehry designed Guggenheim building, with its luxurious titanium skin and various complex sculptural volumes, created an organic space perfect for Neto’s work. The apex of the museum, a skylight designed as a large metal flower set over the museum atrium, framed the first installation of the show: The Falling Body [Le corps] female [ from Leviathan Thot] (O corpo que cai [Le corps] fêmea [de Léviathan Thot]) (2006).
5. Frank Gehry, Centre Pompidou, Paris
Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry is best known for glimmering landmark structures such as the titanium-clad Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, and the Vitra Design Museum in Germany. While many of his best known works have materialised over the past 20 years, Gehry was an established architect long before he rose to prominence in the 1980s. Globally recognised for projects that have now made him an icon, his work has revolutionised the aesthetics of architecture, and its social and cultural role within the city. The exhibition continues until 26 January 2015.
6. Annette Messager: Motion / Emotion, MCA Australia
Child’s play and the macabre world of Annette Messager appeared in a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, over the summer. The French artist’s work ties together themes of play, memory, childhood, gender and loss, and is inescapably appealing and disturbing. She asks her audience to examine their secret, shadowy desires and inspirations, through her fantastical creations and installations. Curiously, though her work has been included in numerous major international group exhibitions and has been the focus of several solo exhibitions, she still manages to slip into obscurity in some countries.
7. Guy Bourdin: Image Maker, Somerset House, London
Starting out as Man Ray’s protégé in the 1950s, Guy Bourdin was always destined for great things. His influential 40-year career was founded on a unique approach to 20th century fashion photography. Unwilling to compromise, Bourdin always believed the product should be secondary and the overall image first. He transformed simple items of clothing into objects that were surprising, rich and beautiful. His images are currently celebrated in a stunning exhibition at Somerset House, London. The show continues until March 2015.
8. Barbara Kruger, Modern Art Oxford
Barbara Kruger’s work is in major collections across the world and this summer her work appeared in a solo exhibition at Modern Art Oxford occupying a large proportion of the gallery space with a series of collages, films and installations. In showcasing Kruger’s soundbites and slogans on such a large-scale, Modern Art Oxford succeeded in cultivating a new and fresh perspective on Kruger’s three-decade practice – previous site-specific exhibitions have included commissions in parks, train stations and museums.
9. Stephen Shore, Fundacion Mapfre, Madrid
Well known for his neutral, objective and almost indifferent images, Stephen Shore broke the mould when he made his photographic debut in the 1960s. He can be counted among the photographers whose influence has been most visible and significant in the past three decades. His unique approach to photography, capturing normal and almost mundane objects, has appeared time and time again in new photographers’ work. In the Autumn months Shore’s output was highlighted at Fundacion Maprfre, Madrid.
10. Anne Collier, MCA Chicago
Who is Anne Collier? This is a question that is clearly answered in the first major solo museum exhibition of her work at the MCA Chicago. Curated by Michael Darling, the exhibition presents over 40 works dating from 2002 to the present-day. Though Collier has exhibited extensively internationally, her work has not been exhibited on this scale before. The showcase is on display until 8 March 2015.
1. Martin Creed, Work No 200.
5. Frank Gehry, Frederick R. Weisman Art and Teaching Museum, 1990-1993, 2000-2011. Photo Dong F Wong.
6. Annette Messager, courtesy of MCA Australia.
7. Guy Bourdin, Charles Jourdan, Fall 1977, The Guy Bourdin Estate, 2014.
8. Barbara Kruger, courtesy of Modern Art Oxford.
9. Stephen Shore, Ginger Shore, Causeway Inn, Tampa, Florida, 19 November 1977, courtesy of the artist and Spruth Magers.
10. Anne Collier, Woman With a Camera (The Last Sitting, Bert Stern) 2009. Chromogenic print. Collection of Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg.