These were the 10 most rewarding and provocative Los Angeles art museum shows that I saw in 2014 — plus one that was almost entirely superfluous. They are listed in the order in which they opened to the public:
"Tea and Morphine: Women in Paris, 1880-1914" at
"Andrea Bowers: '#sweetjane'" at Pomona College Museum of Art: The accomplished L.A. artist produced an insightful and emotionally wrenching group of drawings, video and installations on the subject of a notorious rape, merging piercing insight about current events with social activism.
"Mike Kelley: A Retrospective" at
"Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium From Greek Collections" at
"Chinese Paintings From Japanese Collections" at
"Treasures From Korea: Arts and Culture of the Joseon Dynasty, 1392-1910" at LACMA: Traditional Korean art is not widely known in the U.S., which made this survey of a profound dynastic transformation of society an absorbing revelation.
"Minor White: Manifestations of the Spirit" at J. Paul Getty Museum: A thorough and enlightening survey successfully revised the established view of a long-neglected artist, whose work was once the epitome of all that art photography aspired to be.
"Spectacular Rubens: The Triumph of the Eucharist" at J. Paul Getty Museum: Not only could the guy paint bravura portraits of royals, fantasies of mythological gods and goddesses, his beloved wife, Helena Fourment, and more, this exhibition shows that he could also paint brilliant designs for conceptually surprising tapestries.
"Grandes Maestros: Great Masters of Iberoamerican Folk Art, Collection of Fomento Cultural Banamex" at Natural History Museum: Twelve hundred examples, almost all of them superlative (and beautifully displayed), chart the recent production of traditional clay, wood, textile and metal-work objects by artisans working on the Iberian Peninsula and in Mexico and Central and South America.