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

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Exh. cat. Berlin: Kerber, 2015. 152 pp.; 92 color ills. Paper $47.50 (9783735600523 )
Exhibition schedule: K20, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, September 6, 2014–January 4, 2015; MoMA PS1, New York, January 31–August 31, 2015; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar, March 17, 2015–August 16, 2015
In his first major exhibition in the United States, Egyptian artist Wael Shawky (b. 1971) presented three elaborate films featuring fantastical marionettes performing Amin Maalouf’s The Crusades through Arab Eyes (1983), a book originally written in French but here translated into classical Arabic. Following the exhibition layout at MoMA PS1, viewers first encountered the production materials—sketches, sets, and the marvelous puppets—before entering the darkened screening rooms. The... Full Review
May 5, 2016
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Gretchen A. Hirschauer and Dennis Geronimus, eds.
Exh. cat. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 2015. 248 pp.; 200 color ills. Paper $40.00 (9781848221734)
Exhibition schedule: National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, February 1–May 3, 2015; Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, June 25–September 27, 2015
Of all the characters passed down from Giorgio Vasari’s Vite, it is Piero di Cosimo perhaps more than any other who came to embody the belief widely held in the Renaissance that art imitates life. What is known of his biography is remarkably sparse, apart from the stories Vasari gleaned as a young apprentice in the workshop of Andrea del Sarto, once a pupil of the eccentric master. Born in 1462, Piero was actually the son of Lorenzo d’Antonio, not a goldsmith (as Vasari would have it)... Full Review
May 5, 2016
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Connie Butler
Exh. cat. Los Angeles: Hammer Museum in association with Prestel, 2015. 208 pp.; 36 color ills.; 52 b/w ills. Cloth $49.95 (9783791354293)
Exhibition schedule: Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, June 21–September 20, 2015
Mark Bradford’s solo exhibition, Scorched Earth, curated by Connie Butler at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, included twelve paintings, a mural, and a sound installation. Scorched Earth was tough and admirably far-reaching. Exquisitely detailed, the paintings evoked pain and violence. They looked inward and back, and they were surprisingly aqueous. Three haunting, untitled, twelve-foot-by-twelve-foot, black-and-white, unstretched canvases in a low-lit section of a gallery at... Full Review
April 28, 2016
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Philippe Parreno
Park Avenue Armory, 2015.
Exhibition schedule: June 11–August 2, 2015
Philippe Parreno’s exhibition H {N)Y P N(Y} OSIS at the Park Avenue Armory offered New Yorkers a comprehensive view of a practice that has, since the 1980s, used cinematic and scenographic devices to merge art and reality. Building on his recent retrospective at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, the installation construed the cavernous Armory space as a “street” lined with twenty-six of Parreno’s characteristic lightbulb marquees, and culminated in a set of bleachers that rotated to face... Full Review
April 21, 2016
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Monica Kurzel-Runtscheiner, ed.
Exh. cat. Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2015. 272 pp.; 185 color ills.; 10 b/w ills. Paper $60.00 (9780300210866)
Exhibition schedule: Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, February 15–May 10, 2015; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, June 14–September 13, 2015; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, October 18, 2015–January 17, 2016
The exhibition Habsburg Splendor: Masterpieces from Vienna’s Imperial Collections at the Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM) is the result of collaboration among the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and the KHM in Vienna. The show contained nearly one hundred paintings and artifacts that illustrated the development of courtly patronage and representation over the course of more than half a millennium. Curated by Monica... Full Review
April 21, 2016
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Darsie Alexander and Bartholomew Ryan, eds.
Exh. cat. Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 2015. 352 pp.; 230 color ills.; 115 b/w ills. Cloth $76.50 (9781935963080)
Exhibition schedule: Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, April 11–August 29, 2015; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, October 11, 2015–January 17, 2016; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, February 18, 2016–May 15, 2016
International Pop recounts the emergence of Pop art from the 1950s through the early 1970s and takes a global approach to a phenomenon, which in its various iterations, responded critically and imaginatively to radical cultural and political currents. By including art across media and produced by artists associated with movements that originated in Europe, Asia, and North and South America, the show aims to broaden the scope of what previous exhibitions and prevailing scholarship have... Full Review
April 14, 2016
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Valerie Hillings and Daniel Birnbaum
Exh. cat. New York: Guggenheim Museum, 2014. 256 pp. Cloth $40.00 (9780892075140)
Exhibition schedule: Guggenheim Museum, New York, October 10, 2014–January 7, 2015
ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s–60s, curated by Valerie Hillings, provides the first opportunity in over fifty years for an American audience to take in the diverse array of experimental artistic practices developed across the international ZERO network. While Zero may initially bring to mind the German triumvirate of Heinz Mack, Otto Piene, and Günther Uecker, Hillings situates their experiments in an expansive community of peers and makes visible their sources of inspiration.... Full Review
April 14, 2016
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Susan Elizabeth Gagliardi
Exh. cat. Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art in association with 5 Continents Editions, 2014. 287 pp.; 281 ills. Cloth $60.00 (9788874396665)
Exhibition schedule: Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, February 22–May 31, 2015; Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, June 28–September 27, 2015; Musée Fabre, Montpellier, November 28, 2015–March 6, 2016
Containing nearly 160 artworks, the exhibition Senufo: Art and Identity in West Africa explores what it means to be “Senufo,” a term describing some of the peoples, languages, and cultures in northern Côte d’Ivoire, southern Mali, and Burkina Faso. It also questions the canonical assumptions applied by many academics and culture brokers to the definition and underlying parameters of Senufo art, culture, and identity. In challenging the long-disputed but tenaciously enduring belief in... Full Review
April 7, 2016
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Williamstown, MA: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2015.
Exhibition schedule: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, July 4–September 27, 2015
The exhibition Whistler’s Mother: Grey, Black, and White is as spare and elegant as the painting it celebrates. It presents James McNeill Whistler’s portrait of his mother, Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1 (1871), on loan from the Musée d’Orsay, isolated on a deep grey wall. Quotes from the eminently quotable Whistler and his critics punctuate adjacent walls, as does a copy of the artist’s etching Black Lion Wharf (1859), identified as the framed print in the... Full Review
March 31, 2016
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Exhibition schedule: Sharjah Art Museum and other locations across Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, March 5–June 5, 2015
The subtitle for the twelfth edition of the Sharjah Biennial—“the past, the present, the possible”—is a term that curator Eungie Joo took from an essay by the French philosopher Henri Lefebvre, who wrote about the concept of the right to the city, calling city dwellers to action in collectively shaping their urban environments. Within the context of Joo’s biennial, the title was deployed to address the role of contemporary art—how art is a vehicle to freely express the intangible through... Full Review
March 31, 2016
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