Art Exhibitions Of 2008 - Culture24 Picks Some Of The Best

By Culture24 writers | 01 January 2009

Once again 2008 proved to be a bumper year for art exhibitions in UK galleries - here is a month by month taster of some of them with links to Culture24 stories and reviews.


At Spacex in Exeter, they ushered in the New Year by reconfiguring the music of Bach, courtesy of the creative hacking of New York based artist, musician, DJ and self confessed computer geek, Cory Arcangel.
Bach Reconfigured By Cory Arcangel At Spacex Gallery Exeter.

At the Royal Academy, the on-off exhibition of Russian owned art went ahead thanks to the intervention of a government Minister
Masterpieces On Loan From Russia At The Royal Academy.

The Hayward gallery experienced mixed results in its attempt to make us laugh via the absurdity and humour in contemporary art.
Laughing In A Foreign Language At The Hayward Gallery.

A coup for the Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston saw a new multi channel video work by Kutlug Ataman premiere at the gallery, bringing a multi-layered portrait of Southern California to the winter streets of the North West town.
Paradise - New Film Work By Kutlug Ataman At The Harris Art Gallery.


A mid career retrospective opened at Tate Britain for Peter Doig – a timely exposure for a leading contemporary artist who some think has been wrongly overshadowed by other young British artists.
Peter Doig - A Mid-Career Retrospective At Tate Britain

In Leeds the local International Swimming Pool, loved and loathed by local people in equal measure, was transformed into an iconic temporary artwork prior to a major redevelopment.
Leeds International Pool Transformed Into Major Artwork

In a disused basement in London Artangel unleashed Heiner Goebbels’ Stifter’s Dinge, a bizarre alchemy of avant-garde music, theatre and a spectacular three-dimensional forest lagoon with upturned pianos that advance menacingly over steaming water.
Artangel Goes Subterranean With Heiner Goebbels’ Stifter’s Dinge

A modernist trinity was brought together in Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia At Tate Modern London, featuring famous works such as Duchamp’s fountain alongside the lesser-known paintings.
Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia At Tate Modern London.


Barbican Art Gallery unleashed its Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art, which took an unusual anthropological journey which used art to explain the human condition.
Art Curated For Martians At The Barbican Art Gallery London.


April saw one hundred people join Chinese artist Han Bing as he took a weekend walk with a cabbage on a lead around Manchester as part of the first ever Manchester Asia Triennial.
Chinese Artist Takes A Cabbage For A Walk Round Manchester

Art in the Age Of Steam was thoroughly explored at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, through the transforming eye of the greatest artists of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Art In The Age Of Steam At The Walker Art Gallery Liverpool.

At York Art Gallery one of the most iconic horse paintings in British art, a life size oil painting of the racehorse Whistlejacket by George Stubbs, was unveiled in time for race season.
Massive Stubbs Horse Painting Heads To York For Race Season

The Serpentine in London launched an exhibition of the work of avant-garde pioneer Maria Lassnig – including a recent series of her bold and visceral paintings.
Avant Pioneer Maria Lassnig At The Serpentine Gallery.


Highlighting his work as a curator, a new touring exhibition called Unpopular Culture arrived at De la War Pavilion to showcase Grayson Perry’s mid-century choices from the Arts Council Collection.
Grayson Perry’s Unpopular Culture At The De La Warr Pavilion.

As if to provide a surreal adjunct to Perry’s cross dressing antics the National Galleries of Scotland selected 14 works from their collection for an exhibition exploring images of maternity and motherhood.
Maternity In Art At The Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art

Edinburgh Royal Botanic Garden showcased works by the grande dame of the art world, Louise Bourgeois, alongside 19th century teaching diagrams from its collection
Nature Study - Louise Bourgeois At Edinburgh Royal Botanic Garden.

In Brighton Chinese Whispers at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery offered an exploration of opulent Chinoiserie and decorative arts.
Chinese Whispers Chinoiserie Comes Home To Brighton.

The first ever major UK exhibition of the life and work of Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt was showcased in the European Capital of Culture, at Tate Liverpool.
Oh Vienna! Gustav Klimt And His World At Tate Liverpool.


Artists marked the 40th anniversary of the Hayward Gallery’s opening by investigating the Gallery’s own brutalist architecture, inside and out. in the aptly named Psycho Buildings. Efforts ranged from a clattering metal tunnel to a boating lake on the Gallery roof.
40 Years Of The Hayward Gallery Marked By Psycho Buildings

The Lure of the East at Tate Britain featured The Holy City, the harem and a variety of sitters in an alluring exhibition of British paintings inspired by the Middle East,
The Lure Of The East - British Orientalist Painting At Tate Britain.

June brought another art festival to Manchester with a multitude of venues hosting a series of mind and location-specific art interventions as part of TRIP - a psychogeographic art experience.
TRIP - Crazy Psychogeographic Art Happening Hits Manchester.

The largest cross regional art exhibition in the UK took on a new and innovative form - thanks to cyber technology and the innovations of artists and curators. Artranspennine08 reached out from Manchester and Liverpool across the Pennine region taking in Leeds, Sheffield and Hull.
Artranspennine 08 Mixes Cyber And Real Worlds To Present New Art.

Tate Modern’s Cy Twombly: Cycles and Seasons featured concentrated groups of related paintings from key periods including examples of his monumental paintings, including two of the artist’s great painting series from the 1990s together with drawings and sculpture.
Cy Twombly - Cycles And Seasons At Tate Modern.

At Compton Verney, the summer exhibition explored textiles as medium and myth in a wide ranging show bringing together pieces from national and international collections.
Fabric Of Myth, Ancient And Modern, At Compton Verney.

Glasgow’s ever-adventurous CCA Gallery hosted an exhibition that started life in a vibrant little gallery,, which operates in the back of a record shop in Newcastle. Harry Smith Anthology Remixed featured 84 artists and musicians who have each made visual artworks in response to his Anthology of American Folk Music. Harry Smith Anthology Remixed At CCA Glasgow.

Gallery goers at Tate Britain were given the run around when artist Martin Creed unveiled his new artwork in the Duveen Galleries.
Keep On Running At Tate Britain In Martin Creed’s Work No. 850


In a unique collaboration between Bruton museum and a local school, 200 works by Ernst Blensdorf returned to Bruton in Somerset, where the German sculptor worked for 35 years using the locally sourced wood of elm trees.
Bruton Museum Shows Ernst Blensdorf's Sculptures At Kings School

At the National Gallery they explored the complex relationship between Italian Divisionism and the emerging Futurist movement in the early years of the 20th century.

Works by Wyndham Lewis at the National Portrait Gallery presented a journey through the human psyche of important cultural figures of the early 20th century.
Wyndham Lewis Energises London's National Portrait Gallery.

Italian masters of the Renaissance could be seen in The Art of Italy in the Royal Collection – The Renaissance and Baroque at The Queen’s Gallery in Edinburgh
Renaissance And Baroque At The Queen’s Gallery, Edinburgh.

Edinburgh’s biggest summer show was Impressionism and Scotland with over 100 paintings, pastels and watercolours exploring the Scottish taste for Impressionism.
National Gallery Of Scotland - Impressionism And Scotland

The Wellcome Collection’s From Atoms to Patterns, told an intriguing tale of how inspiration for design can come from almost anywhere.
From Atoms To Patterns At London’s Wellcome Collection.


The beautiful but desolate landscape and ghostly military bunkers of Orford Ness were the inspiration for a new art project by London-based artist Matthew Roberts.
Wild Nature And Military Bunkers - The Art Of Orford Ness

The work of Britain’s best known but perhaps least understood artist, Tracey Emin, was exhibited at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh.
Tracey Emin - 20 Years - At Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art.

Kettle's Yard hosted the work of one of the most adventurous painters of the twentieth century with an exhibition of the oil paintings of Roger Hilton.
The Oil Paintings Of Roger Hilton At Kettle’s Yard Cambridge.

Anya Gallaccio's first solo exhibition at Camden Arts Centre was a sculptural installation consisting of the top part of a fully-grown horse chestnut tree.
That Open Space Within - Anya Gallacio At Camden Arts Centre.

Fruitmarket Gallery Installed an opera room and a killing machine for a new show by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller who challenged perceptions and forced some uncomfortable realisations at Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket Gallery.
Fruitmarket Gallery Installs An Opera Room And Killing Machine}.

For the first time the Courtauld Gallery displayed its entire collection of works by Paul Cezanne in an exhibition that appealed to aficionados and amateurs alike.
The Courtauld Gallery Displays Its Full Collection of Cezannes.

Three artists ignited by the spirit of the punk era challenged the predominance of commercial values in the art world in an exhibition at Transition Gallery in London.
Three Artists Are Pretty Vacant At London's Transition Gallery

An exhibition at the Hayward Project Space featured artwork selected and purchased online that reflected the ‘hidden’ artworks that have occupied people’s homes rather than a public gallery.
View Basket - Art Bought Online - At The Hayward Project Space.


Hew Locke's stunning carnivalesque exploration of power paired pound shop kitsch with classical iconography in a 'fictional display' at Rivington Place.
Major New Hew Locke Art Installation Opens At Rivington Place.

Whether it was music or just plain noise, Christopher Gladwin invited us to explore the merits in artistic rendering of the sounds of sausages and steam.
Art That Makes A Lot Of Noise At Salford's Chapman Gallery.

Taking its cues from the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Michael Gondry and Pierre Bismuth created an installation at the BFI in London that transformed cinema into art.
The All Seeing Eye - The Hardcore Techno Version, At The BFI

David Shrigley was at his satirical best at BALTIC with some never seen before sculptures and animations exposing a dysfunctional and darkly-comic view of human nature.
The Deadpan World Of David Shrigley At BALTIC.

1118 Miles is the distance between London and Warsaw but an exhibition of young Polish artists at the Town Hall Galleries Ipswich explored the emotional, rather than the physical distance.
Emerging Polish Artists At Town Hall Galleries Ipswich

Having made it to its fifth cycle, the Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Arts 2008 presented MADE UP, featuring new work by leading international artists.
MADE UP At The Liverpool Biennial Of Contemporary Arts 2008.

The diverse work of the four artists nominated for 2008’s most prestigious contemporary art award, the Turner Prize, went on display at Tate Britain in London.
Four Hopefuls Unveiled For The Turner Prize 2008 At Tate Britain


The Royal Academy offered the chance to learn about the art patrons, Aime and Marguerite Maeght, who gave support to great artists like Matisse, Miro and Braque,
Miró, Calder, Giacometti, Braque At The Royal Academy

Andy Warhol - Other Voices, Other Rooms at The Hayward Gallery, London, managed to shed new light on one of the 20th Century’s most enigmatic artists.
New Light On Andy Warhol's Works At The Hayward Gallery

American artist Allen Ruppersberg presented his first solo show in a public gallery of his collection of Literatura de cordels, or stories on a string, at Camden Arts Centre.
Allen Ruppersberg's First Solo Show At Camden Arts Centre

The Saatchi Gallery opened in its new Duke of York HQ on the King’s Road in Chelsea with an exhibition called The Revolution Continues - New Art from China.
The Revolution Continues At The New Saatchi Gallery

Manchester Art Gallery’s Holman Hunt and the Pre-Raphaelite Vision, uncovered tales of love, sin and redemption beyond the paintings.
Holman Hunt’s Story Paintings Fill Manchester Art Gallery

For its latest commission in The Unilever Series, French artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster transformed Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall into a futuristic shelter.
Gimme Shelter - Punters Tackle Tate’s Latest Turbine Hall Experiment

Renaissance Faces - Van Eyck to Titian, at London’s National Gallery, explored the surprising and dramatic rise of portraiture in the Renaissance period.
Renaissance Faces - Van Eyck To Titian At The National Gallery

Buckingham Palace’s Queen’s Gallery exhibited Bruegel to Rubens - Masters of Flemish Painting, an exhibition of 51 exquisite masterpieces from the 15th to the 17th centuries.
Bruegel To Rubens - Flemish Art At The Queen’s Gallery

The Museum of Reading hosted an exhibition of Sir Terry Frost’s remarkable paintings made up of his trademark abstract shapes, bright colours and joyful expression.
The Paintings Of Sir Terry Frost At Museum Of Reading

A host of intriguing images went on display at the Cheltenham Art Gallery as part of an exhibition inspired by the 1938 exhibition Realism and Surrealism.

Showcasing 60 years of the artist's work, an enthralling exhibition at Pallant House aimed to prove there is more to Eileen Agar than just a footnote in the history of Surrealism.
Eileen Agar - An Eye For Collage At Pallant House Gallery

A rarely seen collection of works by Impressionist landscape painter Alfred Sisley, from his time spent in England and Wales, was unveiled at London’s National Gallery.Sisley In England And Wales At London’s National Gallery


Drawn Blank, an exhibition of art by Bob Dylan opened in The Lightbox in Woking and featured more than 60 of his paintings including his train tracks series.
Drawn Blank - Bob Dylan’s Paintings At The Lightbox In Woking

The full drama of the Baroque period in Italian painting came to Edinburgh in the second part of The Art of Italy in the Royal Collection - at the Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Baroque Art Of Italy At The Royal Collection Edinburgh


A new collection of works by military personnel suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder provided a rare and moving insight into the lives of those on the front line of war at the Together Our Space Gallery in London.
Veterans' Art Shows Another Side Of Conflict At Together Our Space Gallery

After 70 years of global adventures in Zen, fashion photography, gangster movies and exquisite observational creations, Daan van Golden’s work came to Camden.
Modern Dutch Master Daan van Golden At Camden Arts Centre

Visitors to the East Wing gallery at Somerset House were invited to participate in a double bill of interactive art experiments in the final opening of the unusual space during 2008.
Interactive Artists Close 2008 Season At East Wing Somerset House

A film-centred project by acclaimed New York visual artist Shimon Attie aimed to provide closure for the people of Welsh village Aberfan at National Museum Cardiff.
Shimon Attie's Portraits Of Aberfan At National Museum Cardiff

The Fragmented Orchestra, an interactive public installation mirroring the functions of the human brain, launched at 24 sites across the country.
Fragmented Orchestra - A Multi Venue Sonic Art Installation.

Three new exhibitions at Newtown's Oriel Davies Gallery considered the rise of landscape art alongside vivid scenic work and meditative video installations.
These Valued Landscapes Launches At Newtown Oriel Davies Gallery

Brion Gysin's final work, the Calligraffiti of Fire, opened at the October Gallery where his first UK solo exhibition was shown.
Brion Gysin’s Calligraffiti Of Fire At London’s October Gallery.

The second part of the Royal Academy of Arts' Contemporary season, which began with an apocalyptic and eclectic programme.
Royal Academy Sets Itself On A Collision Course With William S Burroughs.

The University of Glasgow's Hunterian Gallery launched a new exhibition featuring work by influential late 19th century art collective, The Glasgow Boys.
Glasgow Boys At University Of Glasgow Hunterian Gallery

Signalling the arrival of Indian art and culture to the capital in 2009, the Indian Highways exhibition opened at the Serpentine Gallery in London to offer a series of intense cultural portraits of the sub-continent.
Serpentine Gallery Brings Indian Highways Artists To London.

Ready for a new year of exhibitions? Find out what's coming up in 2009.

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