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

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Lawrence Rinder
Exh. cat. Berkeley: University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, 2016. 349 pp.; 280 color ills. Paper $39.95 (9780983881315)
Exhibition schedule: University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, January 31–May 29, 2016
Architecture of Life, the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive’s (BAMPFA) inaugural exhibition in its new building, opens with something of a self-portrait. A photograph, taken four years before the museum itself would open to the public, shows a hand holding an early architect’s model of the new building. In the black-and-white image, the wood model is a small, abstracted form that has been sanded, blackened, and polished to a fine sheen. The hand... Full Review
February 22, 2017
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Anne Montfort and Cecile Godefroy, eds.
Exh. cat. London : Tate Publishing, 2015. 256 pp.; 250 color ills. Paper $49.95 (9781849763172)
Exhibition schedule: Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, October 17, 2014–February 22, 2015; Tate Modern, London, April 15–August 9, 2015
In retrospect, I see how my experience of the Sonia Delaunay exhibition at Tate Modern, like that of many other London tourists, was inescapably shaped by other shows on view at the same time. Visiting one after the other in quick succession, I started thinking of them as a whole, each contributing in its own way to the construction of the city’s curatorial “brand.” The Tate’s recent efforts to foreground women artists—Sonia Delaunay; Agnes Martin, also at Tate Modern (June 3–October 11,... Full Review
February 2, 2017
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Omar Kholeif, ed.
Exh. cat. London: Whitechapel Gallery, 2016. 272 pp.; 200 color ills. Paper $45.00 (9780854882465)
Exhibition schedule: Whitechapel Gallery, London, January 29–May 15, 2016
Ingesting Electronic Superhighway: From Experiments in Art and Technology to Art After the Internet brought about the familiar experience of an overdose one might have after seeing an art fair or large-scale biennial. This ambitious exhibition, covering fifty years of digital culture and curated by Omar Kholeif, considered how the world’s ceaseless flow of electronic information and unrelenting proliferation of images have come to impact contemporary art. In her introduction to the... Full Review
January 19, 2017
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Jens M. Daehner and Kenneth Lapatin
, eds.
Exh. cat. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2015. 368 pp.; 164 color ills. Paper $45.00 (9781606064405)
Exhibition schedule: Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, March 14–June 21, 2015; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, July 28–November 1, 2015; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, December 13, 2015–March 24, 2016
The exhibition Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World presented significant examples of monumental bronze sculpture from the Hellenistic period (323 BCE–27 CE). Curated by Jens Daehner and Kenneth Lapatin, both of the Getty Villa, Power and Pathos not only examined the historical context of these Hellenistic bronzes, but also addressed the importance of bronze as a medium for depicting the movement and expression that are characteristic of Hellenistic art.... Full Review
January 18, 2017
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Jonathan David Katz and Rock Hushka, eds.
Exh. cat. Seattle: Tacoma Art Museum in association with University of Washington Press, 2015. 288 pp.; 200 color ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780295994949)
Exhibition schedule: Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, October 3, 2015–January 10, 2016; Zuckerman Museum of Art, Kennesaw, GA, February 20–May 22, 2016; Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, July 13–September 25, 2016
Retrospectives devoted to individual artists and artist collectives like Gran Fury have addressed HIV/AIDS, as have smaller gallery shows; however, large-scale exhibitions about the epidemic remain rare. Art AIDS America aims to be the most comprehensive exploration of the impact of AIDS on the course of American art. Organized by Tacoma Art Museum and the Bronx Museum of the Arts and co-curated by Rock Hushka, chief curator at Tacoma Art Museum, and Jonathan D. Katz, director of the... Full Review
January 17, 2017
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Ricky Jay
Exh. cat. Los Angeles: Siglio, 2016. 160 pp.; Many color ills. Cloth $39.95 (9781938221125)
“Klein, aber fein” goes the German saying: small, but excellent. That is how I would describe the exhibition organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to showcase drawings by Matthias Buchinger (1674–1740) from the collection of Ricky Jay. The phrase could describe Buchinger’s drawings, which are astonishing examples of micrography, a technique whereby minutely drawn words create an image. The practice has a long history, which the exhibition examined, but by any standard Buchinger was an... Full Review
January 11, 2017
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Paul Schimmel and Jenni Sorkin, eds.
Exh. cat. Los Angeles: Hauser Wirth and Schimmel in association with Skira Rizzoli, 2016. 256 pp.; 150 color ills. Cloth $55.00 (9788857231303)
Exhibition schedule: Hauser Wirth and Schimmel, Los Angeles, March 13–September 4, 2016
Co-curated by Paul Schimmel, former chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and partner and vice president at Hauser and Wirth; and Jenni Sorkin, art historian, critic, and assistant professor of contemporary art history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947–2016 felt like an ambitious museum exhibition, especially with its impressive roster of thirty-four artists working across so much of the... Full Review
December 20, 2016
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Brooklyn Museum, 2015.
Exhibition schedule: Brooklyn Museum, New York, May 1–November 8, 2015
A powerful signifier of knowledge and collective memory in Western modernity, the archive has been a topic of much interest in art history and cultural studies. The scholarship of the last few decades—from Michel Foucault’s to Hal Foster’s—has exposed its artifice, indeterminacy, and historical role in the formation and operation of power structures. What is more, despite the fact that the photograph’s claim of veracity has been seriously challenged by the visual culture of the late twentieth... Full Review
December 15, 2016
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Helen Molesworth, ed.
Exh. cat. Boston: Institute for Contemporary Art in association with Yale University Press, 2015. 400 pp.; 318 color ills.; 170 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300211917)
Exhibition schedule: Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston, October 10, 2015–January 24, 2016; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, February 21–May 15, 2016; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, September 17, 2016–January 1, 2017
That Anni Albers’s modestly sized weaving Free-Hanging Room Divider (1949) is one of the larger objects in Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957 is a testament to the spare conditions under which the artists at Black Mountain College worked. An island of progressivism in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Black Mountain was a small school that staged a grand experiment in collectivism and experiential education. Students and faculty lived together; art practice was at... Full Review
December 14, 2016
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Fram Kitagawa
Exh. cat. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2015. 304 pp.; 354 color ills.; 2 b/w ills. Paper $35.00 (9781616894245)
Exhibition schedule: Nīgata, Japan, July 26–September 13, 2015
In 1999, when a former student activist of the 1960s, Fram Kitagawa, proposed an idea for revitalizing the southern areas of Japan’s Nīgata Prefecture with contemporary art, its six municipalities unanimously declined. But Kitagawa insisted that art could help build a community to reinvigorate the desolate agrarian region and reverse the damage done by the government’s ferocious urbanization. After more than two thousand meetings with local communities, the effort crystallized in the first... Full Review
December 14, 2016
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