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

Browse Recent Exhibition Reviews

Martino Stierli and Vladimir Kulić, eds.
Exh. cat. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2018. 228 pp.; 150 color ills.; 85 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9781633450516)
Museum of Modern Art, New York, July 15, 2018–January 13, 2019
Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia 1948–1980 was an archive of radical potential. The highly anticipated architecture exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) included over four hundred drawings, plans, photographs, models, and film reels related to the construction, ideological and physical, of the second Yugoslavia (Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia). Unlike in MoMA’s previous architecture exhibition Latin America in Construction: Architecture... Full Review
September 13, 2019
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Kristine Khouri and Rasha Salti, eds.
Exh. cat. Warsaw: Muzeum Sztuki Nowoczesnej, 2018. 330 pp.; 16 color ills.; 52 b/w ills. Paper $29.00 (9788364177446)
Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, February 20–June 1, 2015; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, March 18–May 9, 2016; Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende, Santiago, Chile, April 7–August 12, 2018; Sursock Museum, Beirut, July 27–October 1, 2018
Kristine Khouri and Rasha Salti’s exhibition Past Disquiet and its accompanying catalog of essays and documents is the result of ten years of research into neglected histories of international solidarity. Their research brings to light a dynamic, sprawling network of Cold War “grassroots cultural diplomacy” projects (57) that often developed independently or at arm’s length from the state. During the 1960s–90s, cultural workers found common cause in anti-imperialist struggles and... Full Review
September 9, 2019
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Gilbert Vicario, ed.
Exh. cat. Phoenix and Munich: Phoenix Art Museum in association with Hirmer Publishers, 2019. 248 pp.; 132 color ills. Cloth $50.00 (9783777431925)
Steele Gallery, Phoenix Art Museum, March 9–September 8, 2019; New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, October 5, 2019–January 5, 2020; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, March 13–June 21, 2020; Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA, August 1–November 29, 2020
North Wing, American Galleries, Phoenix Art Museum, March 30–December 15, 2019
“The Art-form which is form-of-power does not say anything, it Does something to you,” wrote modernist composer, astrologer, and painter Dane Rudhyar nearly a decade before he joined the Transcendental Painting Group (TPG) in Santa Fe, New Mexico (Art as Release of Power, Hamsa, 1929). Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist is the latest ambitious example of a growing fascination with esoterically inspired art that attempted to compel an active, dynamic spirituality... Full Review
August 30, 2019
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In 1980, artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude were invited to Miami to consider completing a work for the New World Festival of the Arts, a large-scale festival spanning the visual and performing arts during the summer of 1982. Their visit would connect them to Miami’s nascent art scene and inspire their self-funded project Surrounded Islands, completed in May 1983, for which the artists transformed Biscayne Bay by surrounding eleven islands with a pink polyethylene fabric. Bridging... Full Review
August 29, 2019
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Stephen F. Eisenman
Exh. cat. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017. 248 pp.; 137 color ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780691175256)
Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, September 23, 2017–March 11, 2018
William Blake and the Age of Aquarius at Northwestern University’s Block Museum, curated by Stephen F. Eisenman, is a both learned and highly accessible look at the surprisingly broad influence that William Blake exerted on American artists in the 1960s. By focusing on Blake’s impact, Eisenman manages to present the sixties in a critical light, largely free of the tired nostalgia that usually accompanies the turbulent era. As Eisenman notes in the accompanying catalogue, the term... Full Review
August 16, 2019
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John P. Jacob and Luke Skrebowski
Exh. cat. London: D. Giles Limited in association with Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2018. 252 pp.; 174 ills. Cloth $59.95 (9781911282334)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, June 21, 2018–January 6, 2019; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla, CA, February 22–June 2, 2019
For over two decades the artist and experimental geographer Trevor Paglen has given form to visually elusive subjects, from black-op military bases hidden in Nevada deserts and spy satellites encircling the earth to NSA-tapped fiber optic cables on the Pacific Ocean floor. The Smithsonian American Art Museum... Full Review
August 15, 2019
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Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, April 29, 2016–May 12, 2019
“I need my space” proclaims the slogan on today’s ubiquitous NASA-themed T-shirts and hoodies, seen at popular stores like Target, Urban Outfitters, and Forever 21. This catchy phrase also adorns lunch boxes, coffee mugs, stickers,... Full Review
August 8, 2019
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Mass MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts, May 27, 2017–2020
While the use of cutting-edge technology has become increasingly common in contemporary art, it often comes at a price. Slick display of digital technology can easily overshadow content and turn a work of art into gimmick—novel entertainment, at best. Laurie Anderson is arguably the most prominent among the handful of artists today who are aware of this challenge. Building on the legacy of Nam June Paik’s pioneering contributions to what is now called new media, Anderson has passionately... Full Review
August 2, 2019
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Caroline Campbell, Dagmar Korbacher, Neville Rowley, and Sarah Vowles, eds.
Exh. cat. London and New Haven, CT: National Gallery in association with Yale University Press, 2018. 304 pp.; 275 ills. Cloth $50.00 (9781857096347)
National Gallery, London, October 1, 2018–January 27, 2019; Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, March 1–June 30, 2019
Discussion of the interplay between the North Italian Renaissance painters Giovanni Bellini and Andrea Mantegna has been a staple of art historical literature, yet this exhibition—Mantegna & Bellini, on view at the National Gallery in London, October 1, 2018–January 27, 2019—was the first to put the two artists toe-to-toe, with their achievements in direct confrontation. It’s not an easy call. These two brilliant artists, joined by family ties and a shared geography, are often... Full Review
July 31, 2019
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Gary Garrels, ed.
Exh. cat. San Francisco and New Haven, CT: SFMoMA and Yale University Press, 2018. 272 pp.; 230 color ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780300234213)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, December 15, 2018–March 31, 2019; the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, May 4–August 5, 2019; and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, September 24, 2019–January 12, 2020
Alongside modernism’s medium specificity arose a historical distinction between “higher” and “lower” forms, attendant to those media. In such accounts, certain media are presented as agents of distraction and spectacle, others as vessels for sustained attention. That is: the oil painting or the TV set, presented in stark contrast. As scholars have dismantled such essentializing of medium, a critical preference for the subjectivities of modernism persists—a rapt and purified... Full Review
July 24, 2019
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