Moments that made the year: I'm sorry, I can't remember ...
Friday 26 December 1997
For instance - and this is to the immediate point - I see that I wrote about "The Quick and the Dead", the South Bank Touring Exhibition on art and anatomy, that it "may well be the most interesting show to be seen this year". I wrote that in November, so was not taking much of a chance, though still hedging prudently ("may well be"), and quite what "interesting" was supposed to mean I'm now not certain, but it could have simply meant "satisfying to write a review of".
And that's another thing these retrospects make clear: how the sheer imperative to get something definite said can override all other considerations, and subsequently creates a positive barrier to retrieving your original response. And maybe there wasn't one, anyway. Maybe you made it all up. Oh, but surely it was interesting, and more, to see this historical line- up of anatomical creatures, some so hearty, some so queasy, all so remote from modern medical froideur - lots of issues there, but some fantastic drawings too: should have made a second visit, just to make sure.
And there were Duane Hanson's remarkable human simulacra, posed weary and weighed-down around the Saatchi Gallery, sculptures whose perfect literalness, whose very lack of artistic handling, made them peculiarly vulnerable and exposed to the viewer's mercy. Yes, I seem to have liked that a lot, seem to have been very persuasive on the subject - though, if the show was still on, I don't know that I'd run to see it again. And which is truer, the judgment then or now? (Or is it the kind of art that wears off?) Yet I still feel warmly about the exhibition, perhaps just because it was good to talk about.
A further professional deformation, that - to look back fondly on the things that reviewed well, that made a good write-up. That would also include three German shows from early in the year. There was the Lovis Corinth retrospective at the Tate, the nearest thing to an art blockbuster this year, a lot of painterly huff and dash redeemed at the end by the wonderful late self-portraits with their negative Expressionism, dumb, hesitant, baffled. There were the drawings of Georg Grosz (at the Royal Academy). There were Auguste Sander's photos of "People of the 20th Century" (National Portrait Gallery), that strange, stiff portrait-series which looks like a catalogue of human life as seen from an infinite distance. No. Yes. I stand by all that. Absolutely.
And "Sensation" (RA) can't be forgotten either (but that memory is hardly a personal matter, the whole world enforced it) - for a handful of good works on top of everything else.
To close, though, with an objective fact. There's no doubt who the most exhibited artist was: William Hogarth. The tercentenary of his birth was marked with shows at the Tate Gallery, the Sir John Soane Museum, the Whitworth Gallery, the British Museum and the National Gallery. Never wrote about any of them, certainly saw some of them, but I can't now remember quite which.
Life & Style blogs
Surgeon backs 'good death' plans - and reveals his own
NHS hit by stealth cuts of £2bn as tariffs received for medical procedures are reduced
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter
Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
The confessions of men who ordered mail-order brides
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 3 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
- 4 The most powerful passports in the world
- 5 Chinese student carries disabled friend to school every day for three years
£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...