Moments that made the year: I'm sorry, I can't remember ...

Visual Arts

The critics are really the last people to do these magic moments. What do they remember? Writing a review (or so I find) tends to achieve complete evacuation of the experience in question. Ah, but we have our cuttings to rifle and read over ... But then, what an opportunity there for self-doubt, misgiving and bewilderment. Can we take our own words for it? Can we even see what we were driving at, all those months ago? Much to correct, much to withdraw, much to blankly query.

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.

News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

    £26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

    Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

    £24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

    £22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence