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

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Exh. cat. New York: Frick Collection, 2013. 149 pp.; 80 color ills. Paper $27.50 (9780912114576)
Exhibition schedule: Frick Collection, New York, February 12–May 19, 2013
It is a long way from the Tuscan town of Borgo San Sepolcro to the sumptuous interior of the Frick Collection, where six of the panel paintings by the famously enigmatic Piero della Francesca for the high altar of Sant’Agostino were reunited. Yet the preciosity of these mid-quattrocento works in oil and tempera, some resplendent with gold leaf and fictive jewel-encrusted fabrics, was deceptively compatible with the luxurious neo-classical setting. That the secular venue and Piero’s religious... Full Review
May 8, 2014
Jay Sanders and J. Hoberman
Exh. cat. New York and New Haven: Whitney Museum of American Art in association with Yale University Press, 2013. 144 pp.; 115 color ills.; 150 b/w ills. Paper $30.00 (9780300195866)
Exhibition schedule: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, October 31, 2013–February 2, 2014
The 1970s is a decade whose image has not yet crystallized. As Rosalind Krauss reported at the time in “Notes on the Index,” seventies art in America was “diversified, split, factionalized” (October 3 [Spring 1977]: 68). Despite art history’s attempts to trace a clear picture that would bring this “willful eclecticism” into some explanatory order, the decade that followed the Minimalist and Conceptualist reductions of the 1960s and preceded the excesses of the 1980s continues to pose... Full Review
May 2, 2014
Philippe Pirotte and Beatrix Ruf, eds.
Exh. cat. Zurich, Berkeley, and Nanjing: Kunsthalle Zürich, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, and Sifang Art Museum, 2013. 160 pp.; 101 color ills.; 149 b/w ills. Paper $55.00
Exhibition schedule: Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, August 21–December 8, 2013; Kunsthalle Zürich, Zurich, April 6–May 26, 2013
A compelling mid-career survey for the Shanghai-based artist and filmmaker, Yang Fudong: Estranged Paradise, Works 1993–2013 showcased several key works by the artist who is perhaps best known for his stylistically noir films that focus upon the ongoing social complexities facing a generation of Chinese born after the Cultural Revolution. The second iteration of a traveling retrospective that first opened at the Kunsthalle Zürich in April 2013, works exhibited at the Berkeley Art... Full Review
April 24, 2014
Susan Tumarkin Goodman and Kenneth E. Silver
Exh. cat. New York and New Haven: Jewish Museum and Yale University Press, 2013. 148 pp.; 72 color ills.; 27 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780300187342)
Exhibition schedule: Jewish Museum, New York, September 15, 2013–February 2, 2014
The fourth exhibition dedicated to the work of Marc Chagall and mounted by the Jewish Museum since 1965 (with the three most recent—in 1996, 2001, and 2008—also organized by senior curator Susan Tumarkin Goodman), Chagall: Love, War, and Exile trained a specific focus on the artist’s work in France during the run-up to World War II and the difficult war years he spent in New York. The show was organized into four sections, “Time is a River,” “War and Exile,” “The Jewish Jesus,” and... Full Review
April 10, 2014
Jeffrey Howe, ed.
Exh. cat. Boston: McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College, 2013. 140 pp.; 35 color ills.; 25 b/w ills. Paper $35.00 (9781892850218)
Exhibition schedule: McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College, Boston, September 1–December 8, 2013
Disdain for Belgium is so commonplace in Paris that the very mention of “les belges” can cause a smirk. A small but ambitious exhibition at Boston College’s McMullen Museum of Art demonstrated that, far from sharing this prejudice, Gustave Courbet had an attachment to Belgium, where his work was admired and imitated. In 1866, the painter wrote to the Belgian merchant Arthur Stevens: “I consider Belgium my country” (quoted in the exhibition catalogue, 11). He might have visited Belgium... Full Review
April 4, 2014
Corinne Bélier, Barry Bergdol, and Marc Le Cœur, eds.
Exh. cat. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2013. 232 pp.; 225 color ills. Cloth $55.00 (9780870708398)
Exhibition schedule: Cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine, Paris, October 11, 2012–January 7, 2013; Museum of Modern Art, New York, March 10–June 24, 2013
A celebrated protagonist of nineteenth-century French architecture, Henri Labrouste (1801–1875) has been rigorously reappraised by subsequent generations of architects and architectural historians. In the mid-twentieth century, architectural historian and critic Sigfried Giedion likened Labrouste’s application of exposed cast iron in the interiors of his two Parisian libraries, the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève (1838–50) and the Bibliothèque nationale (1854–75), to such industrial marvels of... Full Review
April 4, 2014
Michael Govan and Christine Y. Kim
Munich and Los Angeles: Delmonico and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2013. 304 pp.; 250 color ills. Cloth $75.00 (9783791352633)
Exhibition schedule: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, May 26, 2013–April 6, 2014; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, June 9–September 22, 2013; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, June 21–September 25, 2013
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s (LACMA) nearly yearlong James Turrell: A Retrospective opened concurrently with two other major exhibitions of the artist’s work at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Initially conceived independently by the three institutions, these exhibitions were aligned more to strengthen the visibility of Turrell’s work than to present a coordinated account of it. The MFAH show was first imagined in... Full Review
March 20, 2014
Jessica Morgan and Ulrich Lehmann
Exh. cat. New York: Kiito-San, 2013. 650 pp.; many color ills.; many b/w ills. Paper $40.00 (9780984721047)
Exhibition schedule: Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, April 21–August 19, 2013
For keen-eyed visitors, the exhibition URS FISCHER, mounted at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), last summer, began at the ticket booth located on the museum’s street-level outdoor plaza. There viewers encountered a sign that read, “Please note that one sculpture in URS FISCHER contains a combination of substances which produce mold,” preparing them both to appreciate and be wary of the artist’s sculptural aesthetic of decay, often literalized through the use... Full Review
March 7, 2014
Pasadena: Norton Simon Museum, 2014.
Exhibition schedule: Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, July 20, 2012–January 21, 2013
Significant Objects: The Spell of Still Life explored what curator Gloria Williams Sander identified in the didactic materials attending the exhibition as a long-standing undervaluation of the category. As the introductory wall text explained, still life has often found itself “disparaged critically and theoretically as mere copying that lacked artistic imagination.” Indeed, while superb examples populate nearly every major collection, it remains difficult to imagine a still-life... Full Review
January 30, 2014
Lea van der Vinde, ed.
Exh. cat. Munich: Prestel, 2013. 144 pp.; 110 color ills. $34.95 (9783791352251)
Exhibition schedule: de Young Museum, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, January 26–June 2, 2013; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, June 23–September 29, 2013; Frick Collection, New York, October 22, 2013–January 19, 2014 (with the title Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis)
According to the accompanying exhibition catalogue, Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis brings “examples of Dutch Golden Age painting to the United States, including four works by Rembrandt van Rijn, three works by Jan Steen, two works by Frans Hals, and . . . Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring” (6). The thirty-five paintings on loan from the Mauritshuis represent some of that institution’s best-known holdings, and the High Museum of Art helps... Full Review
January 15, 2014