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

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Chicago: 2014.
Expo Chicago boasts local pride as another annual art fair to emerge in the United States. Now in its third year, the event took place from September 18–21, 2014, at Navy Pier, a city landmark and hub for tourists, where summer crowds line up to board boat tours and take rides on the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel to view the famed Chicago skyline. Expo Chicago is young within the U.S. art-fair circuit; it emerged in 2012, newly reenvisioned after the former venue for Chicago’s fair, Merchandise... Full Review
July 2, 2015
Amy Miller Dehan
Exh. cat. London: D. Giles Limited in association with Cincinnati Art Museum, 2014. 416 pp.; 133 color ills.; 397 b/w ills. Cloth $100.00 (9781907804113)
Exhibition schedule: Cincinnati Art Museum, June 14–September 7, 2014
Recent scholarship has eschewed the fashion for broad, thematic exhibitions in favor of probing specific makers and more local examinations; the exhibition and publication Cincinnati Silver, 1788–1940 was an example of this trend. Cincinnati produced a treasure trove of decorative arts during the nineteenth century, and the silversmithing trade, established by 1795, was evidence of the city’s prowess. Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Amy Miller Dehan... Full Review
June 25, 2015
Joni L. Kinsey
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2006. 271 pp.; 55 color ills.; 112 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780700614134)
Exhibition schedule: Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, June 8–September 8, 2013 (under the title Yellowstone and the West: The Chromolithographs of Thomas Moran); Denver Art Museum, Denver, October 6, 2013–January 19, 2014; Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, June 7–September 7, 2014 (under the title Yellowstone and the West: The Chromolithographs of Thomas Moran)
A museum exhibition on nineteenth-century chromolithography and the landscape of the American West must negotiate its way through key challenges. When the discipline of art history routinely emphasizes the innovation and novelty of artistic developments, imagery of mountains and natural wonders can strike scholars and museumgoers as familiar territory and therefore unworthy of attention. Moreover, in an era that celebrates globalization, the western landscape might bear a whiff of... Full Review
June 12, 2015
University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, 2014.
Exhibition schedule: Museum of Contemporary Art, Geffen Contemporary, University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, September 12–December 21, 2014
The surfaces of John Zurier’s spare, abstract paintings are breathtaking—thin washes of icy blue, brushy layers of deep aubergine, swathes of opaque electric orange—but the edges are where the action is. Sometimes color runs over the side of the picture plane and is folded around the back of the stretcher bars; other times it stops just short, leaving a sliver of raw jute exposed. In Votilækur (2014), for example, a few strong vertical lines lie beneath a cool aqua pigment washed over... Full Review
June 4, 2015
Portland, OR: Portland Art Museum, 2014.
Exhibition schedule: Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR, August 30– December 14, 2014
This Is War! Graphic Arts from the Great War, 1914–1918 joins a number of exhibitions taking advantage of the one hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of World War I to explore this conflict and its representations. The Portland Art Museum focuses its contribution on the graphic arts, as the museum’s rich collection of prints, posters, and works on paper, along with a number of recent acquisitions, has enabled it to stage a comprehensive exhibition that demonstrates the great variety... Full Review
June 4, 2015
Jenelle Porter, ed.
Exh. cat. Boston and New York: Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston in association with Prestel, 2014. 256 pp.; 125 color ills.; 40 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (97837913538521)
Exhibition schedule: Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, October 1, 2014–January 4, 2015; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, January 30–April 5, 2015; Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, May 8–August 2, 2015
Before even reaching the five main galleries dedicated to Fiber: Sculpture 1960–present at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (ICA), visitors encounter the tangled mass of neon-green and sea-blue crocheted strands of Sheila Pepe’s “site-responsive” sculpture, Put Me Down Gently (2014), cascading down the atrium walls. The work extends to the elevator shaft, where more parachute cords, laces, and yarn become visible through the glass of the car as it ascends the length of... Full Review
May 21, 2015
Exhibition schedule: Harvard Art Museums, November 16, 2014–July 26, 2015
On Sunday, November 16, 2014, ambitious Boston museumgoers could have treated themselves to first-viewings of two remarkable achievements: Mark Rothko’s newly restored Harvard Murals, currently installed in the Harvard Art Museums’ impeccable Renzo Piano-designed galleries, and Frederick Wiseman’s National Gallery, a three-hour behind-the-scenes chronicle of the London museum presented by the filmmaker himself at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The coincidence would have delighted... Full Review
May 14, 2015
Timothy O. Benson, ed.
Exh. cat. Los Angeles and New York: Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Prestel, 2014. 296 pp.; 228 color ills.; 13 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9783791353401)
Exhibition schedule: Kunsthaus Zürich (under the title Expressionism in Germany and France: From Matisse to the Blue Rider), Zürich, February 7–May 11, 2014; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, June 8–September 14, 2014; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, October 6, 2014–January 25, 2015
Expressionism in Germany and France: From Van Gogh to Kandinsky examines the connections between the avant-garde art worlds in France and Germany in the years between the last decades of the nineteenth century and the outbreak of World War II, considering the influence of artists like Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, and Henri Matisse on German artists such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Max Pechstein, and Franz Marc. To that end, the network of cultural exchange—exhibitions and their... Full Review
May 14, 2015
Barbara London and Anne Hilde Neset
Exh. cat. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2013. 84 pp.; 70 color ills. Paper $18.95 (9780870708886)
Exhibition schedule: Museum of Modern Art, New York, August 10–November 3, 2013
Soundings: A Contemporary Score was the first major exhibition of “sound” at the Museum of Modern art (MoMA), which Christopher Phillips once famously characterized as “the seat of judgment.” But it encompassed far more than the exhibited sixteen artists from ten countries. It was a large and integrated program of exhibition, films, sound performances, workshops, and lectures overseen by Barbara London, associate curator in the Department of Media and Performance Art, and curatorial... Full Review
May 14, 2015
Kendall H. Brown, ed.
Exh. cat. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 2013. 320 pp.; 458 color ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780883971574)
Exhibition schedule: Japan Society Gallery, New York, March 16–June 10, 2012; John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, July 14, 2012–January 20, 2013; Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, Albuquerque, February 9–April 21, 2013; Tyler Museum of Art, Tyler, TX, June 15–October 20, 2013; Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach, November 22, 2013–January 19, 2014; Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, SC, February 8–April 20, 2014; Seattle Asian Art Museum, Seattle, May 10–October 19, 2014; Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, November 8, 2014–January 18, 2015; Brigham Young University Museum of Art, Provo, February 7–July 19, 2015; Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens, Washington, DC, June 11–December 31, 2016
Deco Japan is a rambunctious assemblage of objects from the late 1920s and 1930s that evokes the excitement and instability of an era in which urbanization, international communication, global travel, mass-market consumerism, and the expansion of imperial ambitions were transforming the everyday lives and imaginations of millions, while spurring artists and designers in particular to rethink their art in relation to the new world that was taking shape around them. Curated and with an... Full Review
May 7, 2015