‘The year that was’ on show…

The year 2018 has certainly been a fantastic one for the visual arts, with some incredible works on show around the globe that continued to create a buzz well after the exhibitions were dismantled.

Picking out our highlights was never going to be an easy task. However, as 2018 draws to a close and we look back on a colourful, creative year, we thought it would be great fun to at least try to draw up a list of our top 10 shows and even give you a couple of ‘last chance to see’ tips too!

Happy New Year from us all at The Net Gallery! 


Kicking off in London…

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up at the V&A was undoubtedly one of the most talked about shows of 2018, and rightly so, selling out well before it closed. This incredible exhibition of clothes and artefacts provided a fascinating insight into the iconic Mexican artist’s personality, and individual style and tastes. Knowing the pieces had been locked away for 50 years by her husband after she died brought added poignancy to the collection.

Picasso 1932, Love, Fame and Tragedy shone a spotlight on the artist during his most prolific period, or what became known as his ‘Year of Wonders’.  A major milestone for the Tate Modern, the month-by-month show marked its first ever solo exhibition of works by Picasso and featured over 100 paintings, sculptures and drawings, together with family photos, which combined to reveal plenty about both the man and the artist.

Michael Jackson: On the Wall at the National Portrait Gallery stepped back from the music and instead took a look at the King of Pop’s influence on the world of art. A brilliantly diverse combination of Jackson-inspired exhibits, this ‘off the wall’ show featured works by almost 50 contemporary artists, ranging from Grayson Perry to Hank Willis, and included the iconic Time magazine cover of the singer by Andy Warhol.

Diana: Her Fashion Story traces the wardrobe and much more of Diana, the Princess of Wales over the years, from those early, romantic, modest outfits to the dazzling gowns she wore in later life. This wonderful show at Kensington Palace reminds us of the impact that the People’s Princess had on the world of fashion and also the garments chosen by future female royals. The good news is it’s running until mid-February, so you still have a chance to catch it.


…and on to Europe…

Eugène Delacroix (1798 – 1863)caused a huge buzz when it opened at the Louvre in March and quite rightly so. This milestone retrospective marked the first show in Paris for over half a century of one of France’s artistic giants, charting his complex and lengthy career in detail, from the popular early works of the Salons to the lesser-known pieces of later years. A total of 180 works from across the decades were displayed to rave reviews.

Andy Warhol After Munchprovided a thrilling, first-hand display of the American artist’s well-documented admiration for the Norwegian painter, Edvard Munch. Held at Kunsthall, Oslo, the show featured three of the main works from the After Munch series, including the iconic The Scream and Madonna, alongside full-scale and unpublished prints, and original pencil drawings based on Munch’s Self-Portrait.

Disney: The Art of Storytelling at the CaixaForum Madrid was a delight, not only for lovers of all things animated, but anyone who appreciates the artistry involved in creating cartoon classics and much-loved characters like Mickey Mouse and Sleeping Beauty. The show included a collection of drawings, watercolours, digital prints, storyboards and production notes, including early memorabilia, outlining what’s involved in adapting classic stories to cartoons.


… then to the United States…

Hilma af Klint failed to gain the recognition she deserved in her lifetime, working instead as a conventional landscape artist, which is what made this show of her bold, colourful abstract paintings at the Guggenheim, New York, all the more exciting. The title of the exhibition, Paintings for the Future, drew on Klint’s decision to keep her innovative art largely private and instructions that it shouldn’t be shown until she’d been dead for 20 years.

Ai Wei Wei: Life Cycleis unsurprisingly making waves on the West Coast since opening in LA at the Marciano Art Foundation in September. This solo exhibition features the artist’s response to the global refugee crisis, alongside some of his most famous installations.The centrepiece is the Law of the Journey sculpture, made from black PVC rubber and using Chinese kite-making techniques to depict the inflatable, makeshift boats used to reach Europe.

… and finally across to Australia

Cartier: The Exhibition showcased a dazzling collection of diamonds and other precious stones, all portraying the French Maison’s exquisite craftsmanship and each with their own tale to tell. Highlights of this show at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, included Queen Elizabeth II’s Halo tiara, worn by Kate Middleton when she married Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Princess Grace of Monaco’s 10.48-carat diamond engagement ring.


By Miriam Dunn