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

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Amelia Barikin, Tristan Garcia, and Emma Lavigne
Exh. cat. Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 2014. 248 pp.; 770 color ills.; 160 b/w ills. Paper $49.95 (9783777422497)
Exhibition schedule: Centre Pompidou, Paris, September 25, 2013–January 6, 2014; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, April 11–July 13, 2014; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, November 23, 2014–March 8, 2015
Upon entering the Los Angeles iteration of French artist Pierre Huyghe’s touring mid-career retrospective, curated for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) by Jarrett Gregory, viewers were given two things. The first was an introduction in the form of a performative artwork titled Name Announcer (2011). A bow-tied gentleman (at least it was a man every time I visited) asked your name and then would repeat whatever you said in a booming, officious tone as you crossed the... Full Review
December 23, 2015
Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2015.
Exhibition schedule: March 31–June 21, 2015
Northern Italian courts served as vital incubators for Renaissance artists, yet they are often overshadowed by larger cities such as Rome and Florence. Powerful rulers, discerning collectors, and taste-making humanists resided in these autonomous principalities. Renaissance Splendors of the Northern Italian Courts provides some much needed attention for these important artistic centers. Curated by Bryan Keene, the exhibition focuses on fifteenth-century manuscripts produced in Ferrara,... Full Review
December 10, 2015
Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 2015.
Exhibition schedule: Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, August 30, 2014–February 16, 2015
At the entrance to the Seattle Art Museum’s (SAM) exhibition City Dwellers: Contemporary Art from India, visitors found themselves standing face to face with the father of the Indian nation and one of history’s most fervent critics of Western material culture. But in Debanjan Roy’s India Shining V (2008), the earphone-wearing Mahatma was covered from head to toe in shiny red automotive paint and had his eyes fixed firmly on an iPod screen. The title of the piece makes direct... Full Review
December 10, 2015
Robin Jaffee Frank, ed.
Exh. cat. Hartford and New Haven: Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2015. 304 pp.; 228 color ills.; 44 b/w ills. Hardcover $50.00 (9780300189902)
Exhibition schedule: Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, January 31–May 31, 2015; San Diego Museum of Art, July 11–October 13, 2015; Brooklyn Museum, November 20, 2015–March 13, 2016; McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, May 11–September 11, 2016
As I walked through the Wadsworth Atheneum’s recent large-scale exhibition Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861–2008, I could not help but ask: Did we really need a show on Coney Island? What does it bring to the intellectual and aesthetic table, so to speak, that would be important or crucial now? In theory, there are a number of compelling reasons to mount this show: a Coney Island exhibition would span a broad historical period; pull from a diversity of objects and... Full Review
December 3, 2015
Kathryn Kanjo, Robert Storr, and Quincy Troupe
Exh. cat. San Diego: Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, 2015. 204 pp.; 150 color ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780934418744)
Exhibition schedule: Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla, September 20, 2014–January 4, 2015; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, May 16, 2015–Aug 2, 2015; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, September 12, 2015–January 24, 2016
When the artist Jack Whitten (b. 1939) refers to his studio as a laboratory, he is speaking literally, not metaphorically. Fridges and industrial freezers are stocked with muffin tins, pans, and molds of all kinds filled with acrylic paint. Covering the walls are tools of every shape and size—many of which are homemade concoctions. Whitten even looks the part of a scientist; his studio uniform consists of a paint-splattered white lab coat and sneakers he spray-painted silver. Although Whitten... Full Review
November 27, 2015
Los Angeles: MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House, 2015.
Exhibition schedule: MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House, Los Angeles, January 21–March 29, 2015
In her recently published Other Planes of There: Selected Writings, artist Renée Green describes her 1999 exhibition Partially Buried in Three Parts as an exploration “of genealogical traces,” where overlapping investigations examine the ways people reinterpret their past to their “contemporary relations to a natal patria” (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014, 275–276). The exhibition, for Green, was also a meditation on what site-specificity might mean when the concept of... Full Review
November 19, 2015
Lawrence Weschler
Exh. cat. Munich: Prestel Verlag, 2015. 159 pp.; 85 color ills. Cloth $49.95 (9783791349145)
Exhibition schedule: James Cohan Gallery, New York, May 1–June 14, 2014 (under the title Fred Tomaselli: Current Events); University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, October 2, 2014–January 25, 2015; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, February 15–May 24, 2015
Fred Tomaselli’s solo exhibition The Times at the Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) is the New York-based artist’s first West Coast show. The exhibition is also a homecoming for the artist, who grew up in the neighboring city of Santa Ana. Before traveling to Orange County, The Times spent four months at the University of Michigan Museum of Art. The idea for these two exhibitions came from James Cohan Gallery’s debut spring 2014 show, entitled Fred Tomaselli: Current... Full Review
November 12, 2015
Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art and Fabric Workshop and Museum, 2015.
Exhibition schedule: Philadelphia Museum of Art and Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, December 12, 2014–April 5, 2015
Allora and Calzadilla: Intervals brings together new and recent work by the Puerto Rico-based artists whose interdisciplinary practice addresses the ethical and affective dimensions of political resistance. Working collaboratively since meeting as art students in 1995, the Philadelphia-born Jennifer Allora and Havana-born Guillermo Calzadilla are perhaps most widely known for their exhibition Gloria at the American Pavilion during the 2011 Venice Biennale. That exhibition’s... Full Review
November 12, 2015
Karl Buchberg, Nicholas Cullinan, Jodi Hauptman, and Nicholas Serota, eds.
Exh. cat. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2014. 298 pp.; 244 color ills.; 82 b/w ills. Paper $45.00 (9780870709487)
Exhibition schedule: Tate Modern, London, April 17–September 7, 2014; Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 25, 2014–February 10, 2015
Henri Matisse’s cut-outs, executed during the last twenty years of the artist’s life, have been taken to exemplify the concept of “late style”—the culmination of a career achieved through intensified abstraction, luminosity, and spiritual expression. Yet, as the recent exhibition Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) reveals, the series might be better understood as a continuation of the artist’s lifelong interest in the emotional appeal of color; simplified,... Full Review
November 12, 2015
Salt Lake City: Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, 2015.
Exhibition schedule: February 13–April 18, 2015
Sophie Calle’s thirty-minute video Unfinished (2005), on display at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA), narrates the artist’s troubled fifteen-year investigation of money. The video moves chronologically from Calle’s receipt, in 1988, of seven stills from the security cameras of an American bank, to her acquisition of three full tapes of ATM security footage in 1990, through another thirteen years of her frustrated attempts to use this footage to make sense or art out of... Full Review
November 5, 2015