End of Year Review

End of Year Review

Author: George Greenhill

Top 10 Art Exhibitions of 2017

In alphabetical order:

Hannah Black

Some Context, Chisenhale Gallery, London, 22 September – 10 December

The Situation, a book composed of conversations between the artist and her friends about theories of subjectivity and collectivity, provide structure to the assortment of multifarious objects in the exhibition. These new works by Hannah Black subvert the inherent uselessness of art as a function for comfort, worship and relief. Running through the duration of the show was a series of conversations that invited the public to openly discuss a situation of their choosing. The display is one of the artist’s best and serves as a great way to open our favourite exhibitions of 2017.


Installation view (2017). Some Context, Chisenhale, London. Image courtesy of artist and gallery.

Sophie Calle

My mother, my cat, my father, in that order, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, 23 June – 9 September

In typical Calle style, this explicitly autobiographical exhibition, revolved around the deaths of the artist’s mother, cat and father, and blurred reality with an emboldened and sardonically humorous fiction. As always, Calle’s performative and witty “story-telling” cut through the sterility of modern life, injecting it with a sense of intense intimacy.


Sillence (2012), Sophie Calle, Fraenkel Gallery. Image courtesy of artist and gallery.

Keren Cytter & Nora Schultz

Continental Break, Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan, 29 September – 23 November

Schultz’s fragmented installations complemented the non-linear, seemingly multi-dimensional videos produced by Cytter. This collaboration was an aesthetic masterpiece centred around themes of reflection. On this occasion, the pair pushed the limits of artistic partnership. Not only was this exhibition entertaining, the combination of two visual languages into a congruent show of this scale was an impressive feat to say the least.

General Idea

Broken Time, MALBA, Buenos Aires, 24 March – 25 June

The Canadian collective, founded in 1969 by AA Bronson, Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal, existed for twenty-five years. They produced a large body of incredibly influential works. Following from the group’s major retrospective at Fundación Jumex Arte Contermporáneo in 2016, this show addressed themes of sex, self-representation, oppression and political turbulence. The magnitude of the show was vast, involving nearly one hundred and twenty works. It included performance, video, photography, publication, installation, sculpture and even editions of objects designed and intended for mass consumption. General Idea’s retrospectives, at both Malba and Jumex, reveal the group’s continued importance; their significance in art history cannot be understated.


Installation view (2017), General Idea, Malba. Image courtesy of artist and gallery.

Douglas Gordon & Morgane Tschiember

Elevation 1049: Avalanche, Gstaad, Switzerland

As Close As You Can, the artists’ contribution to this year’s Elevation 1049, was an artwork made using the primal elements of wood, fire and smoke and was situated amidst the beautiful and terrifying backdrop of Switzerland’s mountainous landscape. With references to the well-known history of yodelling, Gordon and Tschiember’s site-specific installation elicited human instinct, desire and companionship, which gave the show a powerful presence.

Camille Henrot

Days are Dogs, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 18 October 2017 – 7 January 2018

The artist’s first major solo show in Paris was a huge success. Thematically structured around society’s dependence on human-made concepts of time and space, Henrot’s varied use of mixed media highlighted the social constructions accepted as commonplace. The wonder she took in the every day is compelling, as is the way she illuminated the fictions that we humans invent and become familiar with over time, such as the days of the week. And, what’s more, if you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, it is on for a few more weeks!


Installation view (2017), Camille Henrot, Palais de Tokyo. Image courtesy of artist and gallery.

Kerry James Marshall

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 12 March – 3 July

Marshall’s first major retrospective in the United States contained nearly eighty paintings, all of which tackle the void of black subjects in the canon of art history. His figures are resolutely and unapologetically ebony black and occupy each canvas with authority. Curated in chronological order, the viewer could chart Marshall’s career and also the nation’s evolving attitudes towards race. The beauty of Marshall’s works is undeniable and, given the show’s enormity and the relevance of the topics Marshall approaches, its place in our top 17 is assured.


Installation view, Kerry James Marshall. Image courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and artist.

Josh Mannis

Now, Earth, Eric Hussenot, Paris, 2 September – 7 October

It was a good year for Mannis, who picked up the 2017 New York NADA Artadia Award in March and, before this exhibition in Paris, had two shows at M+B and Thomas Solomon Gallery in Los Angeles. We have chosen Now, Earth since his figurative, surreal and dream-like paintings exuded a sinister postcard view of contemporary politics, which feels particularly apt at this present moment.


Installation view, NOW, EARTH (2017), Josh Mannis, Eric Hussenot, Paris. Image courtesy artist and gallery.

Adrian Piper

The Probable Trust Registry: The Rulers of the Game #1-3, Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, 24 October – 3 September

For his first solo show in Germany, Piper designed three identical, golden reception desks that were placed before metallic (ceiling high) walls of the museum’s historic hallway. Visitors were encouraged to converse with the receptionists seated at the desks and to sign an ethical contract. The contract committed the gallery-goers to principles of honesty and reliability. By the show’s end, a community of participants were collected in a registry. The display utilised architectural construction and performative participation to engage the audience; the effortlessness with which it achieved its conceptual ambitions was remarkably moving.


Installation (2017), The Probable Trust Registry: The Rulers of the Game #1-3, Museum für Gegenwart. Courtesy artist and gallery.

Cerith Wyn Evans

As If, Seeing in the Manner of Listening…, Marian Goodman, Paris, 6 June – 28 July

Unveiled at his first show in Marian Goodman’s Paris gallery were new sculptural, light installation and sound works. Often cited as a conceptual artist, his practice has focused on how ideas can be communicated through form. As the title suggests, the show played with the viewer’s senses and perceptions through what was made visible and invisible. The blending of light and sound was absorbing and Evans’s trademark chandelier, as it flickered to the undulating, yet synchronised sounds of piano scores, appeared to be speaking in Morse code. We look forward to his upcoming solo show at the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City next year. If it reaches the same high standard as this, then we are in for a treat.


S=U=T=R=A2 (2017), Cerith Wyn Evans, Marian Goodman, Paris. Image courtesy artist and gallery.

Moments of the Year

Christie’s sale of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi grabbed headlines this year. The sale shattered a previous record for the highest priced work sold at auction set by Edvard Munch’s The Scream at $119,922,500 in 2012. Da Vinci’s $450.3 million painting, not short on controversy, will be displayed in the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi.

After years of planning and much anticipation the openings of Documenta 14, with its shows in Athens and Kassel; the 57th Venice Biennale punctuated by the success of Phyllida Barlow’s British pavilion; and the fifth edition of Skulptur Projekte Münster which included Pierre Huyghe’s After Alife Ahead among other highlights, all opened to widespread acclaim.

After 29 years on the job, Nicholas Serota directorship of the Tate Galleries came to and end. He was replaced by Maria Balshaw who became the first female director in the gallery’s 120-year history.

Non-London areas of interest in Britain were recognised for their cultural prominence with The Hepworth Wakefield won the Art Fund Museum of the year.  Hull was named UK City of Culture for 2017. It will pass the accolade to Coventry, which will hold the prize in 2021.

Looking Ahead to 2018

Take a look at some of our predictions for the year to come:

  • Absolut Art Award: we’re predicting Bunny Rogers, Park McArthur, Andrea Crespo and Cameron Rowland all receive nominations.
  • Preis der Nationalgalerie 2018: Jumana Manna.
  • The Hugo Boss Prize: Whilst we predict a deserving win for Frances Stark, we would be happy to see the award go to the equally deserving Wu Tsang. We are also pleased to see Emeka Ogbohwas nominated as his incredibly immersive The Way Things are Going is the surprise stand out of Documenta 14

Thank you for reading and we hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Cover image: Installation View (2017), Hannah Black, Some Context, Chisenhale. Image courtesy of artist and gallery.

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