The best exhibition of the year was the Roger Hilton show at the Hayward Gallery. Hilton is still an enormously underrated artist and although the show could have had more space, any major gathering together of his works is exciting. I like the cheek of his work and the physicality of the paint. And his perversity and individuality. It was very exciting to see for the first time his painting Grey Figure 1957. It's the biggest work by Hilton that I've ever seen and I found it very powerful - dark and ambiguous. Blue Newlyn 1958 is a wonderful picture. It's kind of orgasmic in the pleasure it takes in the sea and sky and the heat of the summer. It's terrifically life-affirming.
Maggi Hambling is an artist
Julian Opie's show at the Hayward was the most important exhibition of new art of the year. It was exceptionally innovative and perceptive and widely misunderstood by the critics. For anybody interested in intelligent and challenging new work, this was (and is) the show to see. Rachel Whiteread's House was one of the most succesful public works of our time and also one of the hardest things for an artist to achieve. Robert Ryman's show of a lifetime's work at the Tate was the most exceptionally beautiful museum exhibition of the year. It was balanced by the collection of Cassiano dal Pozzo at the British Museum. He assembled the whole universe in drawings. Every area of interest was covered in his attempt at encyclopaedic knowledge. It was an innovative use of the notion of drawing and collecting and is connected to a contemporary way of looking at the world.
Michael Craig-Martin is an artist and teacher
I thought that two very different shows were the best of the year. First there was the Allan Ramsay exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in January. Many people found it a revelation. It was so beautiful and re-established Ramsay in the public mind as a major British artist. It was breathtakingly presented and was accompanied by a wonderful catalogue. At the other end of the year there was the Wilton Diptych exhibition at the National Gallery. It was a stunning thing to have put on: a small exhibition, but perfectly formed, it was beautifully concieved, thoroughly researched and visually stunning. The Titian at the Grand Palais in Paris was also exciting. Although it was a weird selection of pictures to have made, some of which had nothing to do with Titian. But it was wonderful to see them all together.
Robin Simon is editor of 'Apollo'
I loved the early section of 20th-century American Art at the RA, but I hated the section at the Saatchi. In Lucien Freud's show at the Whitechapel, the artist showed how he creates an atmosphere and a world of his own. Whether that depresses or excites you, it's powerful, especially in his portraits of Leigh Bowery. The Tate's Nicholson show had patchy moments, but the Cornish paintings were beautiful and the Paris Post War exhibition there also had its high spots. Another interesting painter was Thomas Eakins at the National Portrait Gallery. They're very beautiful paintings. I didn't know James Turrell's work and thought that his exhibition at the Hayward was exciting. But one of the best shows of the year must have been the Bacon show at Marlborough. It was wonderful. You always associate Bacon with huge canvases and it was nice to see some more intimate things. Small can be beautiful.
Karen Wright is editor of 'Modern Painters'
The two best things of this year were the Titian show in Paris and Rachel Whiteread's House. The Titian was really amazing and House was an extraordinary piece of public sculpture which captured peoples' imaginations in a quite unexpected way. The Titian was intelligently selected and presented and it was fun to see it there. House was a great work and it was great to be there and watch other people enjoying it.
Karsten Schubert is an art dealer
The Matisse show in Paris was my favourite of the year. It left me with a warm feeling for months. The Titian exhibition, also in Paris, has to be my second best. In this country I liked the British Watercolour show at the Royal Academy, but the works by the Victorians let it down. The Francis Bacon show at Marlborough could not be called 'great', but I liked it a lot. It was good to have a chance to look at Bacon's work on a small scale and thrilling to see what a amazing painter he was. Outside Britain again, Bob Irwin at MOCA in Los Angeles was very inspiring. The Greek show at the Met in New York lifted my spirits for days and the Mark Tobey show in Basle was fantastic. But nothing knocked my socks off like the Matisse.
Bernard Jacobson is an art dealer
My favourite show of the year by quite a long way was the James Turrell at the Hayward Gallery. It was the most exciting thing I'd seen for a long time. It was amazing and gave one a wonderful sense of being enveloped in pure colour. But it was not at all gimmick-like. I'd like to see more of his work. It opens up so many possibilities.
David Gordon is Chairman of the Contemporary Art Society
Ilya Kabakov and Hans Haake each had fantastic installations at the Venice Biennale, both were amazing images of everything falling to bits. In this country there was Howard Hodgkin at Anthony d'Offay's. I don't know why. He just managed to do something. Then there were the Matisse shows in Paris. The show at the Beaubourg was wonderful, and better than when it was shown in New York because it was smaller. And there were his works in the Barnes Collection at the Musee de l'Art Moderne. That was the most striking and breathtaking show of the year. The century of Titian in Paris contained far too much to see, but was wonderful. And of course there was Rachel Whiteread's House.
Andrew Graham-Dixon is the 'Independent's art critic
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