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

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J. Patrice Marandel, ed.
Exh. cat. Los Angeles and Munich: Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Prestel Verlag, 2012. 174 pp.; 180 color ills. Cloth $39.95 (9783791352305)
Exhibition schedule: Musée Fabre de Montpellier Agglomération and Musée des Augustins, Toulouse, June 23–October 14, 2012; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, November 11, 2012–February 10, 2013; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, March 8–June 16, 2013
The first painting viewers see upon entering the Los Angeles County Museum’s (LACMA) elegantly mounted exhibition, Bodies and Shadows: Caravaggio and His Legacy, is an anomaly in the Baroque master’s oeuvre. One of the very few portraits that is now securely attributed to Caravaggio (after years of debate), it depicts Cardinal Maffeo Barberini who eventually became Pope Urban VIII. The youngish cardinal is shown seated against a typically Caravaggesque shallow and dark background,... Full Review
October 9, 2013
Stephanie Barron and Lauren Bergman
Exh. cat. Los Angeles and New York: Los Angeles County Museum of Art in association with Prestel, 2012. 288 pp.; 254 color ills.; 46 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9783791352558)
Exhibition schedule: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, September 16, 2012–January 6, 2013; Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, February 9–May 12, 2013; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, June 18–September 22, 2013
Walking through the Ken Price retrospective at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, a line from Clement Greenberg’s 1955 essay “‘American-Type’ Painting” ran persistently through my head. Discussing Hans Hofmann, the painter perhaps most responsible for the critic’s analytic apparatus, Greenberg writes: “The difficult in art usually announces itself with less sprightliness” (Clement Greenberg, “‘American-Type’ Painting,” in The Collected Essays and Criticism, Volume 3: Affirmations and... Full Review
September 20, 2013
Mia Fineman
Exh. cat. New York and New Haven: Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2012. 296 pp.; 276 ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780300185010)
Exhibition schedule: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, October 11, 2012–January 27, 2013; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, February 17–May 5, 2013; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, June 2–August 25, 2013
When, in The London Quarterly Review of April 1857, Lady Elizabeth Eastlake wrote that photography’s “business is to give evidence of facts, as minutely and as impartially as, to our shame, only an unreasoning machine can give” (466), she voiced a widely held desire that photography would do two things: first, tell the truth; and second, liberate painting. Eastlake imagined photography’s contribution to art in terms of class, noting that, where once painting had dutifully devoted... Full Review
September 11, 2013
René de Guzman, Wu Hung, Yiyun Li, Karen Smith, Bill Berkson, and Stephanie Hanor
Exh. cat. Berkeley and Oakland: University of California Press in association with Oakland Museum of California, 2013. 216 pp.; 140 color ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780520275218)
Exhibition schedule: Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, March 16–June 30, 2013
Exhibition schedule: Mills College Art Museum, Oakland, January 23–March 17, 2013
Hung Liu’s Offerings at the Mills College Art Museum and Summoning Ghosts at the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) offer complementary but distinct selections of works, thus avoiding the potential redundancy of two closely timed exhibitions in Oakland, California. The more intimate exhibition Offerings showcases her explorations in installations that employ recurrent metaphors for journey. Contrastingly, Liu’s retrospective Summoning Ghosts nicely chronicles her... Full Review
September 6, 2013
Thomas A. Denenberg, ed.
Portland, ME: Portland Museum of Art, 2012. 184 pp.; 73 color ills.; 24 b/w ills. Cloth $37.50 (9780300184226)
Exhibition schedule: Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME, September 22–December 30, 2012
In January 2006, the Portland Museum of Art acquired Winslow Homer’s studio from the painter’s great-grandnephew. The studio sits above the water on Prouts Neck, a peninsula ten miles south of Portland that separates the northern edge of Saco Bay from Homer’s muse—the rocky, wave-beaten, and occasionally deadly coast of the Atlantic Ocean. During the past six years, with the assistance of architectural historians, engineers, and designers, the museum restored the studio to pristine condition.... Full Review
August 29, 2013
Judith W. Mann and Babette Bohn
Exh. cat. St. Louis and New Haven: Saint Louis Art Museum and Yale University Press, 2012. 376 pp.; 214 color ills.; 46 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300174779)
Exhibition schedule: Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, October 21, 2012–January 20, 2013; National Gallery, London, February 27–May 19, 2013 (under the title Barocci: Brilliance and Grace)
To any student of art history for whom the painter Federico Barocci (ca. 1533–1612) had been relatively unknown—one of a shrinking demographic, perhaps, given the scholarly attention to post-Tridentine Italy and to Barocci specifically over the past twenty years—the Saint Louis Art Museum’s exhibition devoted to his artistic activity provided a thorough and visually splendid introduction. The exhibited works spanned almost his entire career, ranging from a compositional drawing (Staatsgalerie... Full Review
August 22, 2013
Ian Jenkins and Victoria Turner
Exh. cat. Portland, OR and London: Portland Art Museum in association with British Museum, 2012. 175 pp.; many color ills. Cloth $45.00 (9781883124359)
Exhibition schedule: Museo Arqueológico de Alicante, Alicante, April 2–October 13, 2009; National Palace Museum, Taipei, October 15, 2010–February 9, 2011; Kobe City Museum, Kobe, March 12–June 12, 2011; National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, July 5–September 25, 2011; Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR, October 6, 2012–January 6, 2013; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, May 5–October 6, 2013
The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece is an exhibition of about one hundred objects of Greco-Roman art drawn entirely from the collection of the British Museum. The show was in many ways welcome. Public displays of ancient art are in short supply on the West Coast north of Los Angeles, and the British Museum, of course, has one of the world’s great collections of this material. While most of the items included in The Body Beautiful are more often in the British Museum’s... Full Review
August 15, 2013
James Rondeau and Sheena Wagstaff
Exh. cat. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 2012. 368 pp.; 283 color ills.; 30 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300179712)
Exhibition schedule: Art Institute of Chicago, May 23–September 3, 2012; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, October 14, 2012–January 13, 2013; Tate Modern, London, February 21–May 27, 2013; Centre Pompidou, Paris, July 3–November 4, 2013
As one might expect, the retrospective exhibition of Roy Lichtenstein’s work at the National Gallery of Art is, quite literally, explosive. In spite of their familiarity, the bursts of color and graphism still manage to excite. The surprise of Lichtenstein’s technique and source material may have worn over time, but his oeuvre, laid out across fourteen rooms spanning three decades, offers new moments of revelation. Alongside the well-known cartoon melodramas of love and war are early... Full Review
August 8, 2013
Annette Leddy and Donna Conwell
Exh. cat. Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2012. 80 pp.; 16 color ills.; 29 b/w ills. Paper $20.00 (9781606061183)
Exhibition schedule: Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, October 2, 2012–February 17, 2013
Farewell to Surrealism: The Dyn Circle in Mexico at the Getty Research Institute aptly starts with an enlarged photograph of Wolfgan Paalen holding a recently painted portrait of André Breton. Standing in front of, but not at all blocking Breton’s enormous painted visage, Paalen stares expressionless at the camera. As the photograph intimates, Breton loomed large over Paalen’s artistic practice and his new community in Mexico, which he named the Dyn group, meaning Greek for “the... Full Review
August 1, 2013
Joaneath Spicer, ed.
Exh. cat. Baltimore: Walters Art Museum, 2012. 143 pp.; 122 color ills. $25.00 (9780911886788)
Exhibition schedule: Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, October 14, 2012–January 21, 2013; Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, February 16–June 9, 2013
A woodcut illustration of the known world spreads across two pages of the Liber Chronicarum, or Nuremberg Chronicle, printed in 1493. The edges of the map are held in place by Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the three sons of Noah who divided Asia, Africa, and Europe between them and repopulated the human race after the biblical Flood. In this representation, published four years before Vasco da Gama’s circumnavigation of the African continent, the true geographical shape of Africa remains... Full Review
July 25, 2013