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The 15 best art shows of 2015

Delaunay surprised, Diebenkorn delighted and Goya scored twice: here's our pick of the shows of the year

By Martin Coomer
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Jana Chiellino

12. Ryoji Ikeda: Supersymmetry

We willingly scratched our heads and had a ‘what’s it all about?’ moment, pondering the immensity of the universe and other big subjects in this hallucinatory installation at the Vinyl Factory Space at Brewer Street Car Park in April – even if it left us blissfully in the dark.

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Bruce Conner, 'Crossroads', 1976. © Conner Family Trust, San Francisco

10. Bruce Conner: Crossroads

This show at Thomas Dane in June treated us to one of the most beautiful, most mesmerising films you’re ever likely to see – not to mention one of the most terrifying.

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Still from 'The Visitors'. Courtesy Ragnar Kjartansson. Photo: Elisabet Davids

8.  Ragnar Kjartansson: The Visitors

Any show titled after Abba’s majestic final album is okay with us – and thankfully this Icelandic artist’s multiscreen installation at the Vinyl Factory Space at Brewer Street Car Park in November was a fittingly emotional ode to love and loss.

Ai Weiwei at the Royal Academy.Credit: David Parry
David Parry

7. Ai Weiwei

The Chinese megastar’s first major UK survey – at the Royal Academy of Arts, September to December – was epic and serious – and rather samey. But even its repetitiveness started to feel purposeful and critical – evidence of an unyielding spirit in the face of an unrelenting regime.

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© The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

6. Inventing Impressionism

This show about how Monet, Renoir and co (at the National Gallery, March to May) became the biggest deals in art wasn't just about the money. Its masterpiece quota was spectacularly high.

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History Is Now: 7 Artists Take On Britain at Hayward Gallery. Photo by Linda Nylind. 8/2/2015.
Linda Nylind

4. History is Now

Mad cows, a missile, David Beckham asleep, Gilbert & George getting pissed… this was one nation under a roof (at the Hayward Gallery February to April) and it was a brilliantly disconcerting experience.

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Richard Diebenkorn, 'Berkeley #5', 1953. © 2014 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

2. Richard Diebenkorn

Who said Monet, Renoir and co had the whole ‘sunshine on canvas’ thing sewn up? We couldn't get enough of the warm Californian breeze of this undersung American’s paintings at the Royal Academy of Arts (March to June).

Eric Ravillious, 'Train Landscape', 1940. Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums Collection

1. Ravilious

A quiet man of British modernism, Eric Ravilious may have looked like a participant of the Tweed Run, but he was also a radiant watercolourist and brilliant war artist. At Dulwich Picture Gallery (April to August).

2016, you have a lot to live up to…

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Yayoi Kusama
© Yayoi Kusama, courtesy Victoria Miro

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