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

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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
Massimiliano Gioni
Exh. cat. New York: New Museum in association with Skira Rizzoli, 2015. 142 pp. Cloth $50.00 (9780847847198)
Exhibition Schedule: New Museum, New York, June 10–September 13, 2015
The midcareer retrospective of the German painter Albert Oehlen (b. 1954) at the New Museum arrives with ample fanfare. Many regard Oehlen as one of the most important painters of his generation, and Home and Garden, organized by artistic director Massimiliano Gioni with curator Gary Carrion-Murayari and assistant curator Natalie Bell, is his first solo museum exhibition in New York. The title, suggested by Oehlen, refers to the idea of both interior and exterior spaces, a thematic... Full Review
March 17, 2016
Exh. cat. Madrid: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, 2014. 297 pp. (9788480265010)
Exhibition schedule: Museum Reina Sofía, Madrid, November 12, 2014–April 13, 2015; Palacio de Cultura Banamex, Mexico City, May 27–September 20, 2015; Museo Amparo, Puebla, October 24, 2015–February 15, 2016
In the fall of 1949, Mathias Goeritz (1915–1990) and his wife Marianne Gast arrived in Mexico. They had spent the last year in Santillana del Mar near the prehistoric cave of Altamira, working with a group of artists that came to be known as La Escuela de Altamira. His stay in Santillana was the culmination of eight prolific years in Spain where his career as an artist began. Employed by the German Consulate in 1941, Goeritz and his wife spent time in Tetouan, Tangier, Malaga, Granada,... Full Review
Kathy Halbreich, ed.
Exh. cat. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2014. 320 pp.; 545 color ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780870708893)
Exhibition schedule: Museum of Modern Art, New York, April 19–August 3, 2014; Tate Modern, London, October 1, 2014–February 8, 2015; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, March 14–July 5, 2015
This major survey of Sigmar Polke’s vast body of work completed its three-city tour with a fitting last stop in Cologne, the artist’s long-time studio base. In putting together the first retrospective to cover all phases of his highly prolific career, Kathy Halbreich, with co-curators Mark Godfrey and Lanka Tattersall, faced an enormous task. The scale of the show was a constant theme in the Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA) press materials and in the many exhibition reviews published as it... Full Review
March 10, 2016
Dieter Buchhart and Tricia Laughlin Bloom, eds.
Exh. cat. New York: Skira Rizzoli, 2015. 246 pp. Cloth $50.00 (9780847845828)
Exhibition schedule: Brooklyn Museum, New York, April 3–August 23, 2015
Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks, organized by guest curator Dieter Buchhart and former Associate Curator of Exhibitions Tricia Laughlin Bloom, is an important milestone for the Brooklyn Museum: its opening marks ten years since the museum’s survey of Jean-Michel Basquiat in 2005. The exhibition includes 160 pages from 8 notebooks borrowed from the collection of Larry Warsh and around 30 accompanying paintings and drawings. It is worth noting that the artist has not lacked in shows in... Full Review
March 3, 2016
José Luis Barrios and Alesha Mercado Mercado
Exh. cat. Mexico City: MUAC-UNAM, 2014. 48 pp. Paper MXN 120.00 (6070261251)
Exhibition schedule: Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, November 22, 2014–April 5, 2015
The excellent exhibition El derrumbe de la estatua: hacia una crítica del arte público (1952–2014) (The Falling of the Statue: Toward a Critique of Public Art [1952–2014]) examined developments and shifts in public art practice in Mexico across the last half-century. As the title of the show suggests, the driving premise was to dismantle or topple its traditional definitions. Skillfully curated by José Luis Barrios and Alesha Mercado, the exhibition featured sculptures, models... Full Review
February 18, 2016
Emily Braun and Rebecca Rabinow, eds.
Exh. cat. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014. 392 pp.; 280 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300208078)
Exhibition schedule: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, October 20, 2014–February 16, 2015
Cubism constitutes one of the greatest revolutions in the history of Western art, on a par with the one launched at the beginning of the fifteenth century by two other young artists, in another booming economic and cultural center permitting radical innovations within the realms of the arts and sciences—though Florence, at the time that Filippo Brunelleschi and Donatello reached their first heights in the early quattrocento, was an undoubtedly quieter place than was early twentieth-century... Full Review
February 11, 2016
Mark Rosenthal, ed.
Exh. cat. Detroit: Detroit Institute of Arts, 2015. 248 pp.; 125 color ills.; 48 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (9780300211603)
Exhibition schedule: Detroit Institute of Arts, March 15–July 12, 2015
The story told through this exhibition begins and ends in the Garden Court of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) where in 1932 the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera executed a monumental set of wall paintings to celebrate the city’s industrial spirit against the backdrop of the devastating Great Depression. Just months before the arrival of the muralist and his wife, Frida Kahlo, the city had considered closing the museum and selling its artworks, but this commission was part of a larger set of... Full Review
February 4, 2016
David Blayney Brown, Amy Concannon, and Sam Smiles, eds.
Exh. cat. Los Angeles and London: J. Paul Getty Museum in association with Tate Publishing, 2014. 256 pp.; 130 color ills. Cloth $49.95 (9781606064276)
Exhibition schedule: Tate Britain, London, September 10, 2014–January 25, 2015 (under the title Late Turner: Painting Set Free); J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, February 24–May 24, 2015; de Young, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, June 20–September 20, 2015; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, October 31, 2015–January 31, 2016
J. M. W. Turner: Painting Set Free is the first exhibition to focus on the artist’s works produced from 1835 to 1851, from the time he was sixty years old until his death at seventy-six—the period when Turner was consciously shaping his legacy and producing the mature oils and watercolors that have so heavily influenced modern art concerned with light and color. Sam Smiles, Tate Research Fellow and associate professor of Art History and Visual Culture at the University of Exeter, took... Full Review
February 4, 2016
Seattle: Henry Art Gallery, 2015.
Exhibition schedule: Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, October 11, 2014–April 26, 2015
Unlike many of Ann Hamilton’s exhibitions with their patient interest in the singular object or action accumulated as increment, the common S E N S E contains a disorienting array of objects, actions, and modes of address: flatbed scans of dead animals printed in multiples on newsprint, hung salon-style; artifacts such as books and toys that document the ubiquity of animal imagery in various cultures’ childhood imaginaries; wool blankets hung low on wooden rods that one is invited to... Full Review
January 21, 2016