2009 definitely has been a year of activity in London! With every new year there is always a recap of the last one. Here is a snap shot of landmark events, events we want to forget and unforgettable exhibitions that has occurred right here in London 2009.
Andy Warhol’s Other Voices, Other Rooms at the Hayward
At the beginning of 2009 Andy Warhol’s touring show Other Voices Other Rooms lands at the Hayward Gallery. The exhibition catchphrase prompted viewers to re-discover Warhol like you have never known him before. What actually was displayed is the most comprehensive collection of Warhol’s films, video, tv-work, and audio recordings!
Mark Rothko - The Seagram Murals at the Tate
Also at the beginning of the year was Rothko’s Seagram paintings all compiled from collections around the world to arrive at the Tate Modern. Though not everyone is a fan of Rothko, the mystery surrounding these paintings are why this was an unforgettable exhibition. The Murals were originally commissioned for the Four Seasons hotel in New York. Rothko unhappy with all of them, cancelled the commission and sent his paintings away to various collections around the world. One crate arrived at the Tate Modern on the same day as his suicide in 1970. Rothko had previously arranged these paintings as a gift to the Tate, but on terms of having the paintings occupy their own room. There were never any instructions as to how to hang them. The Tate decided to hang them as if they were in situ at the Four Seasons high enough to over look tables and chairs.
Roger Hiorns Seizure curated by Artangel
Roger Hiorns fills an entire council flat in Elephant and Castle with Copper Sulfate crystallizing the entire space. His work was not only great because of conceptually controversial nature but also the work tempted he art elite out of hiding in the west end to a area of town that they may not venture out to on a regular basis. This installation eventually made Hiorns a nominee for the Turner Prize.
Albion Gallery and Store Gallery closes
The strain of the recession causing a falling art market in 2008 has brought two significant London galleries to closure. Albion Gallery in Battersea and Store Gallery in the east end exhibited for the last time amid a hard financial year.
Anthony Gormely’s One and Another
Gormely’s live performance/ sculpture/ submission for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, One and Another was an immense flop. The concept and the intention behind the work was great. Get the citizens of England to represent what should be on the fourth plinth. Every person picked will have an hour on top of the plinth to do as he/ she pleases. One would have though that people of Great Britain would stand and be who they were, teachers, mothers, fathers, farmers, immigrants, etc. Instead it tuned into a busking/ performance art nightmare. Everyone had a weird gimmick. The worse was the reality tv component that would capture the best of what was happening on the plinth and show the public during primetime television.
Damien Hirst and Cartrain saga continues…
At the end of 2008 Damien Hirst threatened to sue a sixteen year old artist through the Design and Copyright Society (DACS) for the copyright infringement of Hirst’s platinum skull which was appropriated by Cartrain for his collages. Cartrain surrendered his work to DACS as well as £200 in profit from the online sale of the work. In 2009 the soap opera continues with Cartrain stealing a pack of pencils worth £500 000 from Hirst’s work Pharmacy installed at the Tate Britain. After the theft Cartrain creates a ransom poster asking for his collages back from Damien Hirst for the safe return of his pencils. A few weeks later Cartrain’s father is arrested by New Scotland Yard, Cartrain turns himself into authorities and the publicity stunt is over…. for now.
Zoo Art Fair re-brands as Zoo Art Enterprises
In 2009 Zoo Art Fair shakes off its art fair label and re-brands as Zoo Art Enterprises. This comes at the same time Frieze Art Fair debuts it’s new Frame section populated by many of the same galleries that were on the Zoo Art Fair 2008 line up. The rebranding focuses more on curatorial projects, project spaces, and site based installations.
John Baldessari’s Tate retrospective and ‘Ear Sofa; Nose Sconces with Flowers (In Stage Setting)’ at Sprueth Magers
John Baldessari currently is showing a gigantic retrospective at the Tate with a side exhibition at Sprueth Magers with a live installation. The retrospective traces his work from the beginning of his career to the present day. Baldessari’s work at Sprueth Magers marks a new direction with a live performer on show at the gallery for the duration of the exhibition.
The art market bounces back with a successful Frieze Art Fair
The Frieze Art Fair was a huge success this year. It reified a steadily climbing art market with big sales such as Ugo Rondinone’s large aluminium tree sculpture. The atmosphere inside the tent was light and high. Galleries were selling well and reports from dealers were very positive in terms of turn over of work. It seems the market is recovering faster than predicted setting up a promising year for 2010.
-- David Yu