Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Advent Favourites: The best exhibitions of 2009

Our countdown to Christmas continues with our selection of the best exhibitions of the past year...

Paul Lay:
Henry VIII: Man and Monarch, British Library. David Starkey’s uncompromising, document heavy, revelatory exhibition told us all we will ever need to know about the old tyrant. In doing so, Starkey demonstrated to the public exactly what it is that an historian does – and how difficult it is to do well.

Andy Patterson:
Not an exhibition but a house. Waddesdon Manor in Hertfordshire. Just goes to show what you can do with a bit of Rothschild cash.

Sheila Corr:
Points of View: Capturing the 19th Century in Photographs (on show until March 7th, 2010)
The British Library’s first ever photographic exhibition gathers together an astonishingly wide range of 19th century prints and books from across its various collections to show the development and influence of early photography. A timely reminder for our digital age.

Derry Nairn:
Madness and Modernity at the Wellcome Collection compellingly charted the often intimate relationship between insanity and creativity in pre-First World War Vienna. What is this extraordinary fin de si├Ęcle world’s most provocative legacy? Mental faults of one type or another - addiction, obsessiveness, depression, self-harm, insomnia - now mascarade as self-identity for not only the artistic population, but for most people, in most developed countries.

Kathryn Hadley:
Louis XIV, l’homme et le roi (on show until February 7th, 2010)
Grandiose, superb and breathtaking. This exhibition explores Louis XIV’s personal tastes and his public image created by artists of the time. It is the first time that the chateau de Versailles has devoted a major exhibition to the Sun King and the display unquestionably lives up to the splendour of Louis XIV’s court and persona.

Charlotte Crow:
Bonaparte et l'Egypte, Institut du Monde Arabe. A brilliant exploration of the imperialist ambitions of Napoleon and the interaction between France and Ottoman Egypt, the exhibition also investigated the lingering cultural and political impact of this episode in the 19th and 20th centuries. A highlight was being able to view at close quarters the detail in the vast canvases by French masters Lejeune and David of Aboukir and other desert battles.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

The audio tour of the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, India must rate as one of the best. The result of a massive conservation and restoration programme launched in 1972 when the Maharaja Gaj Singhji created the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, the guide clearly places the fort in its historical context, explains details and adds anecdotal evidence. With contributions from the Mararaj as well as his son, the audio tour helps to make a visit to this spectacular, fascinating fort on the edge of the Rajasthani desert memorable.

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