1. From Russia
After the intrigue of poisoned sushi over the road, the RA’s art blockbuster was officially blocked by Russia, only to be given a last-minute reprieve. It was the outgoing exhibitions tsar Norman Rosenthal’s finest hour, with stunning French pictures from the Hermitage and Malevich’s black square, cross and circle as triumphant full-stops.
2. Francis Bacon
Tate Britain, until Jan 4 2009
A bloody and gutsy display showing the dark destroyer of British painting in all his glory. For once the work, not the man, was given pride of place.
3. Richard Serra
Steel slabs big enough to clad supertankers were squeezed into some of the largest galleries London has to offer and yet the experience was intimate and beguiling.
4. Chantal Akerman
Camden Arts Centre
Where were all the women this year? Jenny Holzer had a gruesome but powerful showing, Cornelia Parker briefly resurfaced and Susan Hiller had two good shows, but in the museums only this quiet selection of films flew the flag for femininity.
5. Nigel Cooke
Stuart Shave Modern Art
Grotty urban dereliction foregrounded Cooke’s mass portrayal of painterly disaffection, itself brilliantly masking a genuine talent. He needn’t have worried about the death of painting.
6. Charles Avery
A reputation-cementing show for Avery’s creature creations. The superb book, as much as the exhibition itself, finally gave shape to his amorphous and morphing parallel universe.
7. Psycho Buildings
Summer fun was had by all that went boating on the terrace or clambering through the mazes, but the spectacle was at least matched by some curatorial bravado.
8. Oscar Muñoz
A great addition to London’s venues had a sleeper hit of loops and lies by a little-known Colombian artist.
9. Street Art
The best thing at the Modern this year wasn’t Rothko or whatever was in the Turbine Hall – it wasn’t even inside the building. Cladding its side profile with the international evolution of graffiti was a brave slap in the art world’s face.
10. Marcel Broodthaers
Milton Keynes Gallery
Nominating a highlight of the year that wasn’t actually in London is perhaps the best tribute we can give to the wanton contradictions of this Belgian’s