Critical reviews of books, exhibitions, and projects in all areas and periods of art history and visual studies

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Centre Pompidou, Paris, February 26–March 6, 2016
[See the multimedia media review on Scalar.] This review of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Work/Travail/Arbeid (2015–17) enlists the interactive, multimedia capabilities of the Scalar platform to evoke the dance exhibition’s ten-day run at the Centre Pompidou, Paris. The exhibition brought together several components of the Belgian choreographer and dancer’s broader project, including investigating choreography... Full Review
March 23, 2017
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Austen Barron Bailly, ed.
Exh. cat. London and New York: Prestel and DelMonico Books, 2015. 256 pp.; 200 color ills. Cloth $60.00 (9783791354224)
Exhibition schedule: Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, June 6–September 7, 2015; Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, MO, October 10, 2015–January 3, 2016; Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, February 6–May 1, 2016; Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, June 10–September 5, 2016
Touted in museum press releases as the “first major exhibition in more than twenty-five years to feature the life and works of the renowned American painter Thomas Hart Benton,” American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood explores the complex intersections between the work of one of the United States’ most revered Regionalists and the American feature film industry. In its staging at Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Museum of American Art (the third stop on a four-city tour), American... Full Review
March 23, 2017
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Exhibition schedule: Printed Matter, New York, June 18–July 31, 2016
We live in a country divided. Americans today are struggling to have frank, productive dialogues about politics, civil liberties, and social issues. Thanks to livestreaming and social media, our impassioned reactions, firsthand accounts, and official statements catalog each day’s debates in real time and on a vast public scale. While it is tempting to attribute our current state of the union to uniquely twenty-first-century problems—terrorism, technology, or globalization, to name a few—it is... Full Review
March 22, 2017
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Gary Monroe
Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2014. 192 pp.; Many color ills. Cloth $39.95 (9780813049694)
Mary Ann Carroll: First Lady of the Highwaymen is the fourth Highwaymen book by Gary Monroe, Daytona State College professor of fine arts and photography. Virginia Lynn Moylan’s unexpectedly moving foreword outlines the context of Monroe’s study: the omission of black visual artists and black female artists from discussions of “cultural expression” in the United States. In 1995, Jim Fitch, then-director of the Museum of Florida Art and Culture, wrote “‘The Highwaymen’ is a name I’ve... Full Review
March 22, 2017
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Ara Osterweil
Rethinking Art's Histories. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2014. 304 pp.; 45 b/w ills. Paper $35.00 (9780719091919)
Ara Osterweil argues in Flesh Cinema: The Corporeal Turn in American Avant-Garde Film that the medium operates on the spectator’s sensorium in a uniquely direct and intense way. Films can emphasize this link by depicting bodies in extreme circumstances; for instance, bodies immobilized by drugs, dead and being autopsied, or epileptic and seizing are just some of the precarious versions of corporeality that experimental filmmakers documented in the 1960s and 1970s. But within the array... Full Review
March 17, 2017
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Dimitrios Pandermalis, ed.
Exh. cat. New York: Onassis Foundation, 2016. 159 pp.; 164 color ills.; 9 b/w ills. Paper $30.00 (9780990614227)
Exhibition schedule: Onassis Cultural Center, New York, March 24–June 18, 2016
From first glance, it was clear that the exhibition Gods and Mortals at Olympus: Ancient Dion, City of Zeus was more than an impressive collection of ancient sculpture. It was a show with a clear didactic objective: to illuminate the accomplishments of the archaeologists and conservators who had worked for forty-five years to systematically unearth and preserve the rugged ancient city of Dion. The exhibition illustrated the potential of scientific and systematic excavations, with every... Full Review
March 16, 2017
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Jennifer Blessing
Exh. cat. New York: Guggenheim Museum, 2015. 148 pp.; 135 color ills. Paper $50.00 (9780892075218)
Exhibition Schedule: Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, Berlin, July 10–August 30, 2015; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, November 20, 2015–March 23, 2016
“How many minutes would you invest in looking at a particularly striking photograph?” I asked this of my History of Photography students last year, and the response came not in minutes but in seconds. They largely used Instagram as their default experience: “six seconds” answered one of the more thoughtful students. “No,” argued another, “maybe three seconds, if it’s attached to text on a blog.” Thus the understandable motivation of undertaking an exhibition like Photo-Poetics: An... Full Review
March 15, 2017
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Peter Cooke
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014. 288 pp.; 50 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300204339)
In Gustave Moreau: History Painting, Spirituality, and Symbolism, Peter Cooke explores the artist’s work from its beginnings in the early 1850s to the final ambitious projects of the late 1890s. He examines Moreau’s lifelong endeavor to revitalize le grand art in France—history painting in its most ambitious form—and to combat the endemic materialism of the age with a spiritual and moral type of painting. In the 1840s, Moreau studied under François-Édouard Picot and was enrolled... Full Review
March 15, 2017
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Melissa Dabakis
University Park: Penn State University Press, 2014. 304 pp.; 100 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (9780271062204)
“I wouldn’t live anywhere else but Rome,” gushed Harriet Hosmer in a letter in 1854. “I can learn more and do more here, in one year, than I could in America in ten” (35). Hosmer was among a few dozen American women sculptors who sought training in Rome during the third quarter of the nineteenth century, the subject of Melissa Dabakis’s A Sisterhood of Sculptors: American Artists in Nineteenth-Century Rome. The project offers a new contribution to the study of American artists working... Full Review
March 9, 2017
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Jennifer P. Kingsley
University Park: Penn State University Press, 2014. 228 pp.; 18 color ills.; 34 b/w ills. Cloth $79.95 (9780271060798)
With The Bernward Gospels: Art, Memory, and the Episcopate in Medieval Germany, Jennifer P. Kingsley has made a valuable contribution to English-language scholarship on Ottonian art history. Her immediate focus is an illuminated Gospel book made at the beginning of the eleventh century for the eminent bishop Bernward of Hildesheim (r. 993–1022). The manuscript (Hildesheim, Dom- und Diözesanmuseum, Domschatz 18 [Bernward Gospels]) is illustrated with twenty-four miniatures featuring New... Full Review
March 8, 2017
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