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

Browse Recent Exhibition Reviews

Piet van Boxel and Sabine Arndt, eds.
Exh. cat. Oxford: Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, 2010. 128 pp.; 70 color ills. Paper £ 24.99 (9781851243136)
Exhibition schedule: Jewish Museum, New York, September 14, 2012–February 3, 2013
Illuminated manuscripts offer the best-surviving evidence of Jewish artistic production in the Middle Ages, bearing witness to the tastes of their Jewish patrons, the skills of Jewish scribes, and the aesthetic acuity of Jewish readers and viewers. Jews did not live in isolation, and the artists responsible for the decoration of their books—who were not necessarily Jewish but may have been—both drew from and contributed to the artistic conventions of the dominant culture. Crossing Borders:... Full Review
November 20, 2013
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Maryam D. Ekhtiar, Priscilla P. Soucek, Sheila R. Canby, and Navina Najat Haidar
Exh. cat. New York and New Haven: Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press, 2011. 448 pp.; 377 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300175851)
After eight years of intense study, research, conservation, and planning, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s former Islamic Art galleries were reinstalled and opened to the public in November 2011 under the name The Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia. Navina Najat Haidar coordinated the reinstallation, with contributions by many members of the Department of Islamic Art, including senior colleagues Daniel Walker, Michael Barry, Stefano Carboni, and... Full Review
October 23, 2013
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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
Until several years ago, Richard Spear’s 1971 exhibition catalogue, Caravaggio and His Followers (Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art), defined the scope and limits of Caravaggio’s influence on painters in Rome and beyond. But since 2010, more recent exhibitions commemorating the four hundredth anniversary of Caravaggio’s death have offered the opportunity both to evaluate new discoveries in the individual careers of Caravaggesque painters and to discuss anew the large and disparate... Full Review
October 23, 2013
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María Dolores Sanchez-Jáuregui and Scott Wilcox, eds.
Exh. cat. New Haven and Madrid: Yale University Press, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and Real Academia de Belles Artes de San Fernando, 2012. 392 pp.; 350 color ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300176056)
Exhibition schedule: Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, May 17–August 27, 2012; Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, October 4, 2012–January 13, 2013
Shipwrecks have long attracted salvagers, archaeologists, and historians, offering precious but fragmentary evidence of broader cultural, political, and economic networks. The Westmoreland or Westmorland (so spelled in deference to early Spanish orthography and established scholarship), a British merchant ship that sailed from Livorno for England during the War of American Independence in 1778, was not sunk but captured by French frigates and escorted to Málaga, where her... Full Review
October 18, 2013
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MaryAnne Stevens, Carol M. Armstrong, Colin B. Bailey, Stéphane Guégan, Leah Lehmbeck, and Lawrence W. Nichols
Exh. cat. London: Royal Academy Publications, 2012. 224 pp.; 150 ills. Cloth $55.00 (9781905711741)
Exhibition schedule: Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio, October 7, 2012–January 1, 2013; Royal Academy, London, January 26–April 14, 2013
A major exhibition of Édouard Manet’s portraits was already a gleam in Lawrence Nichols’s eye from the time in 1992 when he joined the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA). What sparked the idea was the handsome portrait of Manet’s close friend, Antonin Proust (1880), donated to the museum in 1925, having passed through just one French collection after that of the sitter. The TMA’s portrait project was developed into a collaboration with the Royal Academy in London, where the active participation of... Full Review
October 18, 2013
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Peter C. Sturman and Susan S. Tai, eds.
Exh. cat. Santa Barbara and New York: Santa Barbara Museum of Art in association with DelMonico Books, 2012. 320 pp.; 385 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9783791352725)
Exhibition schedule: Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, October 20, 2012–January 20, 2013; Asia Society, New York, March 5–June 2, 2013
Jagged peaks surrounded by swirling mists, pavilions perched precariously on cliffs, wise old men walking along winding, narrow paths: such motifs may conjure the stereotypical image of a traditional Chinese painting for many contemporary viewers. Indeed, many of the fifty-odd works displayed in The Artful Recluse: Painting, Poetry, and Politics in 17th-Century China fit this bill. Yet the curators of this exhibition—Peter Sturman, Professor of Art History at the University of... Full Review
October 9, 2013
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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
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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
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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
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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
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