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

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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
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
San Francisco: 2015.
Exhibition schedule: Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, September 21, 2013–February 16, 2014; Vox Populi, Philadelphia, March 7–April 27, 2014; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, October 24, 2014–January 25, 2015; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, February 15–May 17, 2015; Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland, September 3, 2015–January 9, 2016
Alien She, organized by and exhibited at the Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh before opening at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, examines the influence of the feminist punk rock movement Riot Grrrl on artists working today. Curated by Ceci Moss and Astria Suparak, the exhibition presents archival materials (zines, mixtapes, music playlists, cassettes, fliers, t-shirts, video footage, and other ephemera) from the Riot Grrrl movement as well... Full Review
April 23, 2015
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
La Jolla: 2014.
Exhibition schedule: Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla, May 16–August 31, 2014
In Tim Youd’s recent solo exhibition and performance, The Long Goodbye, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, visitors were able to hear the artist’s work before seeing it. It is a sound that most people will be familiar with, but haven’t encountered in a while. As one approached the museum’s Krichman Gallery, the staccato sound of the clacking keys of an Olivetti Studio 44 typewriter was audible before rounding the corner to take in the sparkling view of La Jolla Cove... Full Review
April 16, 2015
Susan Weber, ed.
Exh. cat. New York: Bard Graduate Center, 2014. 688 pp.; 624 color ills. Paper $85.00 (9780300196184)
Exhibition schedule: Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture, New York, September 20, 2013–February 16, 2014; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, March 22–July 13, 2014
No eighteenth-century British artist had an output as wide-ranging and as versatile as William Kent (1685–1748). He worked for court, country, and city; his style encompassed the Palladian and the Gothic. Painting, sculpture, architecture, interior decoration, furniture, metalwork, book illustration, theater design, costume, and landscape gardening—he turned his hand to them all. His genius lay not in one form of artistic production, but rather in the way he combined them. He is credited as... Full Review
April 9, 2015
Dieter Scholz, ed.
Exh. cat. New York and Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2014. 208 pp.; 114 color ills.; 52 b/w ills. Paper $48.00 (9781938922664)
Exhibition schedule: Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, April 5–June 29, 2014; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, August 3–November 30, 2014
When I hear the name of the American artist Marsden Hartley, I think of two paintings, Portrait of a German Officer (1914) and Adelard the Drowned, Master of the “Phantom” (ca. 1938–39). As Jonathan Weinberg has noted, both convey desire in the context of death (Speaking for Vice: Homosexuality in the Art of Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, and the First American Avant-Garde, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993, 114–40). In the first, Hartley veils that desire, and its... Full Review
April 9, 2015
One could argue that no contemporary topic has more urgency and complexity than that of the interaction between humans and the natural environment. Whether considering contemporary political policy or theories of geologic time, the question of how this moment in human history will come to terms with its existence in the larger world, literally and figuratively, is prominent across academic disciplines and various media discourses. Time, Space & Matter: Five Installations Exploring Natural... Full Review
March 26, 2015
MAK Center for Art and Architecture
Los Angeles: 2014.
Exhibition schedule: MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Schindler House, Los Angeles, June 18–September 7, 2014
The sumptuous, emotional, and multi-layered painterly work of Tony Greene (1955–1990)—featuring found images, text, and decorative elements in objects both large and small—is experiencing something of a moment right now. The artist received a room of his own within two major exhibitions in 2014: the Whitney Biennial and Made in L.A. at the Hammer Museum, with the former curated by artists Catherine Opie and Richard Hawkins and the latter by ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives... Full Review
March 26, 2015
Sarah Kennel, ed.
Exh. cat. Washington, DC and Chicago: National Gallery of Art, Washington and University of Chicago Press, 2013. 280 pp.; 110 color ills.; 20 b/w ills. Cloth (9780226092782)
Exhibition schedule: National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, September 29, 2013‒January 5, 2014; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, January 27‒May 4, 2014; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, June 15–September 14, 2014
With a decade of solo exhibitions devoted to the work of nineteenth-century photographers Édouard Baldus (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994), Gustave Le Gray (Bibliothèque nationale de France and J. Paul Getty Museum, 2002), and Roger Fenton (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2004), French and American museums succeeded in demonstrating that a focus on individual oeuvre, rather than period style, lent some much needed scholarly substance to the early history of photography. Given his significance to... Full Review
March 19, 2015
Clare Elliott
Exh. cat. Houston: Menil Foundation, Inc., 2013. 112 pp.; 60 color ills. Paper $60.00 (9780300189735)
Exhibition schedule: Menil Collection, Houston, April 19–August 18, 2013; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, September 29, 2013–January 5, 2014; Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, SUNY, Purchase, February 16–May 11, 2014; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, June 11–September 14, 2014
No matter what the relationship between art and medicine, I would rather keep it on the aesthetic plain. . . . Why don’t you show your paintings and the thesis in a medical hospital? —Betty Parsons, letter to Forrest Bess, 1958 Female patron: The paintings up there are amazing! Male patron: Did you look at the stuff in the middle? Female patron: No. Male patron: Super weird. —exchange in Berkeley Art Museum gift shop, September 2014 Forrest... Full Review
March 5, 2015
James David Draper and Edouard Papet
Exh. cat. New York and New Haven: Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2014. 376 pp.; 350 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300204315)
Exhibition schedule: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, March 10–May 26, 2014; Musée d’Orsay, Paris, June 23–September 28, 2014
As signaled by its title, visitors to the exhibition The Passions of Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux learned that the artist (1827–1875) had many: an obsession for art at a young age; an enthusiasm for portraiture; a desire for major government-sponsored commissions; and fervor for work. His was also a life full of passions unrealized, as he died from pancreatic cancer at the age of forty-eight. Yet Carpeaux’s impact on nineteenth-century sculpture was significant. His works fill museums and... Full Review
March 5, 2015