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

Browse Recent Exhibition Reviews

Monica Kurzel-Runtscheiner, ed.
Exh. cat. Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2015. 272 pp.; 185 color ills.; 10 b/w ills. Paper $60.00 (9780300210866)
Exhibition schedule: Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, February 15–May 10, 2015; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, June 14–September 13, 2015; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, October 18, 2015–January 17, 2016
The exhibition Habsburg Splendor: Masterpieces from Vienna’s Imperial Collections at the Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM) is the result of collaboration among the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and the KHM in Vienna. The show contained nearly one hundred paintings and artifacts that illustrated the development of courtly patronage and representation over the course of more than half a millennium. Curated by Monica Kurzel-Runtscheiner, the exhibition took a broad multidisciplinary approach that focuses on the history of the imperial family and the range of visual and figural media used… Full Review
April 21, 2016
Darsie Alexander and Bartholomew Ryan, eds.
Exh. cat. Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 2015. 352 pp.; 230 color ills.; 115 b/w ills. Cloth $85.00 (9781935963080)
Exhibition schedule: Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, April 11–August 29, 2015; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, October 11, 2015–January 17, 2016; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, February 18, 2016–May 15, 2016
International Pop recounts the emergence of Pop art from the 1950s through the early 1970s and takes a global approach to a phenomenon, which in its various iterations, responded critically and imaginatively to radical cultural and political currents. By including art across media and produced by artists associated with movements that originated in Europe, Asia, and North and South America, the show aims to broaden the scope of what previous exhibitions and prevailing scholarship have conceived of as “Pop.” These comparisons and confrontations reveal the myriad ways in which international artists deployed strategies and aesthetic modalities that alternately coincided with… Full Review
April 14, 2016
Valerie Hillings and Daniel Birnbaum
Exh. cat. New York: Guggenheim Museum, 2014. 256 pp. Cloth $40.00 (9780892075140)
Exhibition schedule: Guggenheim Museum, New York, October 10, 2014–January 7, 2015
ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s–60s, curated by Valerie Hillings, provides the first opportunity in over fifty years for an American audience to take in the diverse array of experimental artistic practices developed across the international ZERO network. While Zero may initially bring to mind the German triumvirate of Heinz Mack, Otto Piene, and Günther Uecker, Hillings situates their experiments in an expansive community of peers and makes visible their sources of inspiration. Exhibition history provides the logic both for assembling this particular grouping of artists and for several of Hillings’s installation strategies, which seek to recreate the original experience… Full Review
April 14, 2016
Susan Elizabeth Gagliardi
Exh. cat. Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art in association with 5 Continents Editions, 2014. 287 pp.; 281 ills. Cloth $60.00 (9788874396665)
Exhibition schedule: Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, February 22–May 31, 2015; Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, June 28–September 27, 2015; Musée Fabre, Montpellier, November 28, 2015–March 6, 2016
Containing nearly 160 artworks, the exhibition Senufo: Art and Identity in West Africa explores what it means to be “Senufo,” a term describing some of the peoples, languages, and cultures in northern Côte d’Ivoire, southern Mali, and Burkina Faso. It also questions the canonical assumptions applied by many academics and culture brokers to the definition and underlying parameters of Senufo art, culture, and identity. In challenging the long-disputed but tenaciously enduring belief in the “one tribe, one style” model of conceptualizing traditional African art, this exhibition and catalogue embody a more expansive view of Senufo culture that can stand as… Full Review
April 7, 2016
Williamstown, MA: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2015.
Exhibition schedule: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, July 4–September 27, 2015
The exhibition Whistler’s Mother: Grey, Black, and White is as spare and elegant as the painting it celebrates. It presents James McNeill Whistler’s portrait of his mother, Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1 (1871), on loan from the Musée d’Orsay, isolated on a deep grey wall. Quotes from the eminently quotable Whistler and his critics punctuate adjacent walls, as does a copy of the artist’s etching Black Lion Wharf (1859), identified as the framed print in the portrait’s background. The simple installation hews to the painting’s logic, for as Whistler wrote in The Gentle Art of Making Enemies (London… Full Review
March 31, 2016
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 tangible form. Enter Steel Rings (2013) by Rayyane Tabet. On the ground floor of the Sharjah Art Museum, I encountered… 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 thread that runs through the artist’s work, while also making a sly reference to decorating magazines. A more appropriate title might have… 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, and Madrid where he befriended many Spanish artists and critics working in the… 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 traveled. Containing 250 works, it counts among the largest exhibitions ever mounted at MoMA, which in turn justified the… 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 recent years. In addition to the Brooklyn Museum exhibition, of recent note was the retrospective, also organized by Buchhart, at the Art Gallery… Full Review
March 3, 2016