London's Top 10 Art Exhibitions In 2014

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 78 months ago
London's Top 10 Art Exhibitions In 2014

It's impossible to go a year in London without a whole host of fantastic art exhibitions, but what were the best in 2014? We've compiled a list of our favourite shows this year featuring our top 10 major exhibitions and five of the best smaller exhibitions too.


One of the more fragile structures in Sensing Spaces. Copyright Kengo Kuma.

1. Sensing Spaces at Royal Academy
This was an overwhelming show to kick off the year. Architecture was let loose within the main galleries of the Royal Academy and gave us everything from delicate structures made from incensed bamboo to a gigantic wooden building that you could climb to the top of. We said in our review that it was an early contender for exhibition of the year and nothing has been able to knock it from the top of our list.

2. Momentum at The Curve, Barbican
The Curve within the Barbican Centre is one of our favourite exhibition spaces and United Visual Artists filled it with a sound and light art installation that switched from calming to creepy. It was, dare we say it, even better than the Rain Room.

3. Joan Fontcuberta: Stranger than Fiction at Science Museum
The new media space at Science Museum has had a great start and this was a fantastically surreal and humorous exhibition. Fontcuberta plays with our sense of what we should believe and delivers a  challenging and entertaining photography show.

4. Anselm Kiefer at Royal Academy
The Royal Academy strikes again, this time with one of the world's greatest living artists. This show had everything — politics and history combined with colossal works and fantastic texture to create one of the most powerful exhibitions of the year.

5. Veronese at National Gallery
We thought that there's no way to capture the brilliance of Veronese outside of Italy. How glad we were to be proven wrong and blown away by the scale and splendour of the magnificent Renaissance paintings in this exhibition.

Peace - Burial at Sea exhibited 1842 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
One of Turner's masterpieces in the show. Copyright Tate

6. Late Turner: Painting set free at Tate Britain
The Tate Britain has not had a good year but its saving grace is this exhibition of Turner at his best — loose expressive brushwork and searingly bright colours show why he is considered such a genius.

7. Constructing Worlds at Barbican Art Gallery
Combining art and architecture proved a master stroke in this fabulously curated exhibition of photography. With each artist given the chance to display a portfolio of work it was like 20 small exhibitions held together with a coherent narrative.

8. Malevich at Tate Modern
The journey from conventional to conceptual art can be summed up with one man's life: Kazimir Malevich. This great story was told perfectly with the inclusion of some of his famous 'black square' pieces.

One of many fantastic images competing in the World Photography Awards exhibition. Copyright Sean Batten

9. Sony World Photography Awards at Somerset House
This award gets stronger with every showing and this year held some fantastic photography, whether it be majestic images of the natural world or the harrowing photographs of victims of acid attacks.

10. Martin Creed at Hayward Gallery
A playful sense of humour pervades this show, whether it be battling our way through a room full of balloons or watching somebody defecate on screen. We also loved the spinning Mother in neon that felt far too close for comfort.

Gallery of the Year: National Gallery
It's been a fantastic year for the gallery with the Veronese and Rembrandt blockbusters but the other exhibitions have also shone. Both Building the picture and Making colour could have been overly academic but were both very engaging.

It was a tight race this year as the Royal Academy also had a great year with two of our top four and their best summer exhibition yet.

Smaller exhibitions

This trippy installation tops our list of the smaller exhibitions. Copyright Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg

1. Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg at Lisson Gallery
This trippy sound and video art installation was very different to anything we saw this year and it had us memerised.

2.What Marcel Duchamp Taught Me at Fine Art Society
A fantastic group show of 50 artists across five floors ranging from major names to emerging artists. A great sense of humour and the surreal was evident across all the works that included quirky kinetic works and a cleverly scripted piece of sound art.

3. Republic of the Moon at Oxo Tower Wharf Bargehouse
This warehouse space behind the Oxo Tower had a fantastic group show dedicated to the moon. Whether it be converting the moon into a theme park or training a flock of geese to fly there, it was one of our highlights at the beginning of the year.

4. Gerardo Dottori at Estorick Collection
We must admit we hadn't heard of this Futurist painter before this show, but we loved his angular landscapes and the wonderfully curved paintings of the sea seen from a plane.

5. Welcome to Iraq at South London Gallery
The transportation of this installation from the Venice Biennale throws a new light on the consumption of art in a gallery — visitors could pour a cup of tea and watch some video art on a laptop.

Independent gallery of the year: Kristin Hjellegjerde
Though its exhibitions didn't make it into our selection, the gallery has had a great second year with exhibitions featuring marble sculpture, anatomical specimens and surrealism.

Have we missed off your favourite exhibition or do you disagree with our list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

Last Updated 22 December 2014