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

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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
Sarah J. Montross, ed.
Exh. cat. Brunswick, ME and Cambridge, MA: Bowdoin College Museum of Art and MIT Press, 2015. 136 pp. Cloth $29.95 (9780262029025)
Exhibition schedule: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, ME, March 5–June 7, 2015
Science fiction and space travel are only one facet of this unusual and ambitious exhibition, which brings together an array of disparate artworks addressing multiple intertwined subjects ranging from the cosmic and geologic to the technological, social, political, and environmental. Curator Sarah Montross proposes four broad themes for organizing the multiplicity of works: the “new man” of the technological future; space travel and its depiction through visual technologies; American... Full Review
November 5, 2015
Ann Temkin
Exh. cat. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2014. 264 pp. Cloth $45.00 (9780870709463)
Exhibition schedule: Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 4, 2014–January 18, 2015
Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not A Metaphor at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is a collaborative project between Robert Gober; Ann Temkin, chief curator of painting and sculpture; and Paulina Pobocha, assistant curator. The exhibition, at its heart, reflects Gober’s curatorial practice. This role is not a new one for the artist. In 2009, Gober organized Heat Waves in a Swamp: The Paintings of Charles Burchfield, with Cynthia Burlingham, at the Hammer Museum of Art; and for the... Full Review
October 29, 2015
Laura Hoptman
Exh. cat. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2014. 176 pp.; 135 color ills. Cloth $50.00 (9780870709128)
Exhibition schedule: Museum of Modern Art, New York, December 14, 2014–April 5, 2015
The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World is the rather ominous title of a sprawling exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). The title alone almost seems to threaten the very existence of any and all future endeavors in painting. Seventeen artists from just three countries (nine women and eight men), all born after 1954, make up the group selected by Laura Hoptman, curator of the Department of Painting and Sculpture at MoMA, to carry the banner of painting... Full Review
October 22, 2015