Analysis
Art's Most Popular 2020

Here are 2019's most visited contemporary art exhibitions

Jean-Michel Basquiat brought in big crowds in Paris—but who beat him to claim the top spot?

Untitled (1982) by Basquiat, who drew big crowds in Paris © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat/Licensed by Artestar, New York

The Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil has long been a fixture in this category, but Ai Weiwei gives the gallery its first chart-topper since 2016. It has free entry and long opening hours—9am to 9pm—but, still, more than 9,000 visitors a day to Ai’s show is a remarkable number. Five other free shows attest to their power in introducing audiences to less widely celebrated artists than Ai, such as Tiffany Chung and Trevor Paglen. But the top ten features only four institutions, with the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo making big gains: only one of the gallery’s shows was in the top ten last year. Perhaps the standout number is the 676,503 visitors who paid to see Jean-Michel Basquiat at the Foundation in Paris. Notably, that is almost 2,000 more per day than for the free show of the US artist’s work in Rio. Basquiat now stands alongside Picasso and Van Gogh as a blockbuster artist.

Top 10 contemporary art exhibitions

• For The Art Newspaper’s full Art’s Most Popular visitor figures survey, see our April issue. To read a selection online, see Art’s Most Popular 2020