Tate Modern, London; October (runs until 12 March 2023)
Epoch display of enchanting paintings by this revolutionary Frenchman – golden apples, monumental card players, the glittering pyramid of Mont Sainte-Victoire, a Provençal winter as spare as a Japanese watercolor. No matter how often you go, their beauty remains irreducibly radical and mysterious.
National Gallery, London; April
First ever exhibition outside Italy of the Renaissance prodigy, and what a revelation it was. Tactile, seductive, amorous, brilliantly intelligent in every medium from chalk to paint, wool and bronze. Best of all: the informal portraits of friends, male and female.
3. Van Gogh: Self Portraits
Courtauld Institute, London; February
Almost half of the 35 painted self-portraits, all made in the last four years of his life. Excited, sleepless, brutally shaved, apocalyptically dynamic, transcendent, at least once unrecognizable: a force field of genius, Van Gogh’s signature in every stroke.
4. A Century of the Artist’s Studio: 1920-2020
Whitechapel Gallery, London; February
Iwona Blazwick’s swan song as a Whitechapel director, it was a fantastic dramatic call from studios, from frozen log cabin to film set, laboratory, suitcase and kitchen table. Eighty artists, five continents and a true sense of the creative spirit in situ.
5. In the Black Fantastic
Hayward Gallery, London; July
A sparkling knockout festival of contemporary African diaspora art that turned the gloomy Hayward inside out with music, sculpture, movies, paintings and self-portraits in gold, bronze and papier-mache. Its climax was Kara Walker’s shadow feature film, which used paper silhouettes to tell the story of black history with unforgettable finesse and tragedy.
6. Postwar Modern: New Art in Britain 1945-65
Barbican Art Gallery, London; March
The power of two decades of British art born out of the immediate horrors of the Second World War came as a shock, not least because so many of these artists were lost or forgotten. I will not forget the eerie paintings of Polish refugee Franciszka Themerson, nor the crimson encaustic canvases of Magda Cordell.
7. Howardena Pindell: A New Language
Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge; July
Delicate and haunting abstractions, beautiful collages, devastating videos: all concerned with American racism. Never has anger been more powerfully transformed into beautiful art.
8. A taste for impressionism
Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh; August
World-famous paintings from Scottish collections would have sufficed – Monet’s haystacks, Degas’ portraits, Van Gogh blinded in Arles – but there were so many surprises that were overlooked. Strangest of all, Courbet’s fierce dark wave rising from white foam and speaking directly to Hokusai.
9. Reframe: The woman in the window
Dulwich Picture Gallery, London; May
An idea – how men frame their views of women – turned into a brilliant exhibition. From Rembrandt’s girl leaning on her windowsill to Walter Sickert’s prostitute and Picasso’s trapped lover, to Louise Bourgeois who finds the whole world in her window.
10. Bill Lynch: The Exile of Dionysus
Brighton CCA; August
The discovery (or rediscovery) of the year, for me: a 20th-century American master, dead at 53, who painted his visions of a lyrical sublime on panels of found plywood.