Exhibition attendance figures

Exhibition attendance figures for 2008

Contemporary Top Ten
Paris’s spectacular Grand Palais Nave comes in at number one with its all-too-brief show of works made over the past ten years, including those by Bill Viola, William Kentridge and Robert Wilson. Europe knocks New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) off the top slot for the first time since 2004 (when Guggenheim Bilbao topped the list with a display of work by Richter, Weiner and Whiteread). The Grand Palais Nave also comes in at number seven, playing host to “Promenade” (left), the monumental series of corten steel slabs by Richard Serra that filled the vast space. The San Francisco-born artist remains a popular choice, having topped the 2007 contemporary list with his 40 years of sculpture at MoMA.

Photography Top Ten
In line with the past three years, the US monopolises the top ten, this time with a fairly even split between San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles. Photography has made greater inroads into the top 200 for 2008, with all but one (“Depth of Field” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) reaching the list, compared with only one making it in 2007, “Thomas Demand” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Tributes to 20th-century greats take up many of the top slots—with the Annie Leibovitz show returning from 2007, down from second place to seventh—while contemporary giant Jeff Wall unsurprisingly came in high again, down just one place from 2007. (Left, Lee Miller, Women with Fire Masks, London, 1941, in San Francisco.)

Architecture and Design Top Ten
Although, just as in 2007, architecture dominates this year’s top ten, design continues as a prominent force, reflecting the expanding global market and proliferation of fairs and museum shows. “Starchitects” remain a strong presence in 2008, with Frank Gehry predictably drawing in the crowds for the ever-popular Serpentine Pavilion (left) and Richard Rogers coming home to his tour de force, the Centre Pompidou. San Francisco and New York again played big roles, and there was much interest in the designs for the upcoming rooftop garden for SFMoMA, set to open on 10 May with sculptures byAlexander Calder, Barnett Newman and Mario Merz. Statement museum architecture shows no signs of abating, attracting major names and popular fascination.

This piece was published in The Art Newspaper, April 2009, pp 28-29.