Ticket Awards 2017: the best art exhibitions of the year

The National Gallery enjoyed the most momentous year in its history

  Caravaggio’s “Boy Peeling Fruit”  at  “Beyond Caravaggio”, at the National Gallery of Ireland, one of the standout exhibitions of 2017. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Caravaggio’s “Boy Peeling Fruit” at “Beyond Caravaggio”, at the National Gallery of Ireland, one of the standout exhibitions of 2017. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Our critic Aidan Dunne has picked his favourite shows from 2017 and now it’s over to you. Click on irishtimes.com/ticketawards to vote for your favourite art exhibition from 2017. If you think he missed a trick,  nominate your pick in the space provided at the end of each category online. We’ll publish the results in two weeks and you’ll be in with a chance of winning one of our prizes.

It’s not just about art, though. Check out our cultural picks across books, music, film and television

 The National Gallery of Ireland had a momentous 2017, indeed it was probably the most significant year since its foundation in 1864, easily surpassing the addition of the Millennium Wing in 2002. The comprehensive refurbishment and retro-fitting of the Dargan and Milltown Wings, together with the creation of additional circulation spaces, and other technological provisions designed to future-proof the complex in the project delivered by Heneghan Peng Architects and the OPW, made good longstanding weaknesses in the institution’s capacity to fulfil its basic function of displaying and protecting its collection.

That would make it a year to remember for the gallery, but its exhibitions programme, both ambitious and judicious, wasn’t just the icing on the cake but a whole new cake. Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry coincided with the re-opening of the refurbished building. It was a superb show by any standard and a tremendous achievement by curator Adriaan Waiboer. It has been preceded by another knock-out: Beyond Caravaggio which opened in February, and overlapped with Margaret Clarke: An Independent Spirit, which exemplified exactly the job the gallery should be doing in detailing and displaying still relatively neglected swathes and figures of Irish art. Marie Bourke’s continuing Frederic William Burton: For the Love of Art does this and more. Käthe Kollwitz: Life, Death, and War, also still ongoing, should also be mentioned.

Some outstanding solo shows during the year not included in the list of ten highlights include Barbara Knezevic’s Exquisite Tempo Sector and Gavin Murphy’s Double Movement, both at Temple Bar Gallery; Stephen Brandes’s Parc du Souvenir at Oonagh Young; Séan McSweeney’s collaborative project The Yellow River with poet Gerard Smyth at Solstice, Navan; Chanelle Walshe’s Beatland at Pallas Projects; Fiona Hackett’s Mausoleums of Precious Belongings at Lexicon, Dún Laoghaire; Jonathan Mayhew’s I Wanted to Write a Poem at Wexford Arts Centre; John Noel Smith’s Moving Lines at Hillsboro Fine Art, Dublin; Anne Maree Barry’s Otium cum Dignitate (Leisure with Dignity) at The Lab; Bernadette Kiely’s Memory Needs a Landscape at Taylor Galleries; Anne Madden’s Colours of the Wind at the Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane; Paul Mosse’s What’s With the Apocalypse? at Visual, Carlow; Dennis Dinneen’s Small Town Portraits at the Douglas Hyde; and Margaret O’Brien’s installation This Isn’t It at NAG.

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects were invited to curate the 2018 Venice Architectural Biennale, a real honour for Ireland and an accolade for their work and reputations. Meanwhile, Richard Mosse won the prestigious Prix Pictet photography prize. John Hutchinson retired from the Douglas Hyde Gallery, with Georgina Jackson taking up the post of director from mid-year. Matt Packer took over the directorship of EVA when Woodrow Kernehan moved on to Southampton.

Several artists of note died during the year, including Barbara Warren, Stephen McKenna, Brian King, George Potter and the consistently underrated painter Colin Harrison who showed regularly at Taylor Galleries.

Top 10 exhibitions of 2017

Susan MacWilliam: Modern Experiments
Touring show seen at the FE McWilliam Gallery, Highlanes, Drogheda; Uillinn, Skibbereen; and currently at the Butler Gallery, Kilkenny

Beyond Caravaggio: Caravaggio and his Followers
National Gallery of Ireland

The Living and the Dead by Mark Swords
Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin

Margaret Clarke: An Independent Spirit
National Gallery of Ireland.

Small Town Portraits by Dennis Dinneen
Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin

Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry
National Gallery of Ireland

Frederic William Burton: For the Love of Art
National Gallery of Ireland

Inscriptions, a photographic series by Ailbhe Ní Bhriain
Galway International Arts Festival

Flag by John Gerrard (commissioned by Channel 4)
Galway International Arts Festival

Strange Attractors by Ronnie Hughes
The Model, Sligo and the RHA, Dublin

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