Best Exhibitions of 2018

Museum & Gallery Shows of 2018

Cover Image - Hilma af Klint, "The Ten Largest, No. 7., Adulthood, Group IV," 1907. Tempera on paper mounted on canvas. 315 x 235 cm. Stiftelsen Hilma af Klints Verk. Photo: Albin Dahlström/Moderna Museet. Header Image - Andy Warhol, “Big Electric Chair,” 1967–68. Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen, 54 1/8 x 73 1/4 in. (137.5 x 186.1 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago; gift of Edlis/Neeson Collection, 2015.128 © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

BY: Zach Wampler

2018 was a dynamic year for art exhibitions globally. Whether at a small gallery in Los Angeles or a sleek museum in Paris, stimulating, moving, and provocative work was shown.

This was also a year of political and social turmoil, which has led artists and curators in many different directions. For example, the Guggenheim’s Hilma af Klint exhibition offers a lush and beautiful respite, and instead of escapism, Anne Collier’s appropriations of comic book women crying resonates critically and deeply in our particular cultural moment (i.e.- #MeToo, the Kavanaugh hearings, border family separation policies). Any way you slice it, you can’t help but notice that the events of this past few years have left their mark on the minds of gallerists, museums, and artists.

Although we were spoiled with options this year, I have provided (in no particular order) my top five museum exhibitions and top five gallery exhibitions. Enjoy!


Best Museum Exhibitions of 2018

Painting by Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol, “Marilyn Diptych,” 1962. Acrylic, silkscreen ink, and graphite on linen, two panels: 80 7/8 x 114 in. (205.4 x 289.6 cm) overall. Tate, London; purchase 1980 © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York.


Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again, Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC

The oft-quoted but never duplicated Pop master was given a stunning reassessment this fall by curator Donna DeSalvo. With equal focus finally given on Warhol’s early and later work, viewer’s can finally see the political and queer themes in Warhol’s work, and not just the famous works of the ‘60s.


Painting by Hilma af Klint
Hilma af Klint, “Group X, No. 1, Altarpiece (Grupp X, nr 1, Altarbild),” 1915 from Altarpieces (Altarbilder). Oil and metal leaf on canvas. 237.5 x 179.5 cm. The Hilma af Klint Foundation, Stockholm. Photo: Albin Dahlström, the Moderna Museet, Stockholm.


Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future, Guggenheim Museum, NYC

Hilma af Klint was forgotten for decades, but in recent years, she has been finally given the recognition she deserves as one of the earliest pioneers of abstraction. With decadent color and form, af Klint’s spiritual and eccentric canvases were brilliantly hung in the Guggenheim’s iconic spiral galleries.


Painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat
Jean-Michel Basquiat, “Untitled,” 1982. Acrylic, spray paint, and oilstick on canvas. 183.2 × 173 cm. Yusaku Maezawa Collection, Chiba, Japan. © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Picture: Courtesy of Sotheby’s, Inc. © 2018.


Jean-Michel Basquiat, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris

Suzanne Pagé’s curation of this sprawling show of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings, drawings, and ephemera is wonderful to behold. It is even more mind-boggling to consider that Basquiat made all of this work (and more) in just a decade. In just a few years, Basquiat brought about a new style of painting and explored themes of race, masculinity, and American history.


Painting by David Hockney
David Hockney, “Barry Humphries, 26th, 27th, 28th March 2015,” 2015. Acrylic on canvas, one of 82, 122 x 91 cm. © David Hockney. Photo: Richard Schmidt.


David Hockney: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life, LACMA, Los Angeles

David Hockney may be in his eighties, but he is more successful and busy than ever. After a massive and much-heralded traveling retrospective, this exhibition received less attention than it deserved. With its simple theme (portraiture) and a similar composition, you focused solely on Hockney’s beautiful and masterful use of color and gesture.


Sculpture by Sarah Lucas
Sarah Lucas, “Me Bar Stool,” 2015. Plaster and cigarette stool. 39 3/8 x 23 5/8 x 22 in (100 x 60 x 56 cm). © Sarah Lucas. Courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London.


Sarah Lucas: Au Naturel, New Museum, NYC

Sarah Lucas is an artist that subverts what we know about gender and sexuality, and she certainly is the most unapologetic and funny artist who deals in identity politics. Au Naturel is her largest survey to date, and includes work from her YBA days in the 1990s and brand new pieces. Although hundreds of objects are presented, they work together beautifully and the curation Massimiliano Gioni and Margot Norton feels l spare and effective.


Best Gallery Exhibitions of 2018

Painting by Richard Prince
Richard Prince, “Untitled,” 2017. Oil stick, acrylic, charcoal, gel medium, collage, and inkjet on canvas, in 24 parts. 220 × 246 in; 558.8 × 624.8 cm. © Richard Prince. Photo: Robert McKeever. Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery.


Richard Prince: High Times, Gagosian Gallery, NYC

Richard Prince has a reputation for sleek, cold, sexy art. His latest exhibition at Gagosian is quite the opposite: colorful and rough forms cover huge canvases and works on paper. They are rather comical pieces, and seem like the most happy, vulnerable, and expressive work by Prince ever.


Painting by Caroline Walker
Caroline Walker, “Thanks For Noticing,” 2017. Oil on linen. 210 x 160 cm [HxW] (82.68 x 62.99″). Courtesy of the artist and Anat Ebgi, Los Angeles.

Caroline Walker: Sunset, Anat Ebgi Gallery, Los Angeles

LA is the city of Hollywood, and Caroline Walker used cinema to her advantage at her show at Anat Ebgi. Following an aging beauty queen, Walker showed a lonely world where this woman lounges in a pool, works out and examines herself in the mirror. The isolation shows the excesses of capitalism, and the stress and routine this woman has to endure because of its oppressive nature.


Painting by Karel Appel
Karel Appel, “Out of Nature,” 1996. Oil on canvas. 60 1/4 x 48 x 1 3/4 inches. © 2018 Karel Appel Foundation, c/o Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Courtesy of the Foundation and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo.


Karel Appel: Out of Nature, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles

Painting can be minimal and conceptual, or it can be lush and expressive. Karel Appel obviously favored the latter. Out of Nature is a late body of work from the 1990s that recalls Appel’s time in New York in the ‘50s, and was the subject of an exhibition at Blum & Poe this past fall. These lyrical canvases are large in scale, colorful in palette, thick in brushwork, and absolutely beautiful all around.


Painting by Philip Guston
Philip Guston, “Untitled,” 1973. Oil on panel. 121.9 x 152.4 cm / 48 x 60 in. © The Estate of Philip Guston. Courtesy of the Estate and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Genevieve Hanson.


Philip Guston: A Painter’s Forms, 1950 – 1979, Hauser & Wirth, Hong Kong

Philip Guston had a notorious transition from abstract to figurative painting. While his later work was initially reviled, it became his most critically prized work. It only makes sense that this transition would be the focus of an exhibition, and Hauser & Wirth provided viewers with a fabulous exhibition of paintings and drawings that charted the painter’s pivot in style.


Print by Anne Collier
Anne Collier. “Woman Crying (Comic) #2,” 2018. C-Print. 63.21 x 49.7 inches (160.55 x 126.24 cm). All images courtesy the artist and Anton Kern Gallery, New York / © Anne Collier.


Anne Collier, Anton Kern Gallery, NYC

Anne Collier often focuses on the subject of womanhood, and her recent work seems timely, even urgent. Shown at Anton Kern Gallery in New York, Collier showed a series of cropped and enlarged images of tears streaming from the eyes of women from illustrations and photographs. The idea of how our society views women is shown bluntly: as an individual without the capacity to have a stable emotional or psychological state. As #MeToo and the Trump era progresses, these images are critical, haunting, and a necessary reminder.