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

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This international loan exhibition presents a nuanced understanding of Franciscan missionary Junípero Serra's life and work in California, contextualizing it within a broader discussion of the Spanish colonial enterprise in New Spain (the formal name of Spanish colonial North America, the Caribbean, and the Philippines, including parts of what is today California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida until Mexican independence in 1821). Born in Petra, Mallorca, in 1713, Serra... Full Review
July 3, 2014
Constance M. Lewallen and Karen Moss
Exh. cat. Berkeley and Newport Beach, CA: University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive and Orange County Museum of Art, 2011. 320 pp.; 64 color ills.; 123 b/w ills. Cloth $39.95 (9780520270619)
Exhibition schedule: Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA, October 9, 2011–January 22, 2012; University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, February 29–June 17, 2012; Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver, September 28–December 9, 2012; SITE Santa Fe, Santa Fe, February 23–May 20, 2013; Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York, June 20–September 8, 2013; Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, October 3, 2013–January 12, 2014
It is appropriate that State of Mind: New California Art Circa 1970, the wonderful, timely, necessary exhibition curated by Constance Lewallen and Karen Moss, was at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, which in the context of the New York art world is as far away psychologically from the gallery districts of Chelsea and the Lower East Side and the museums of Midtown and the Upper East Side as Los Angeles and San Francisco and other hotbeds of California art are geographically. The... Full Review
June 26, 2014
Gloria Groom, ed.
Exh. cat. Chicago, New York, and Paris: Art Institute of Chicago, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Musée d’Orsay, 2012. 336 pp.; 478 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300184518)
Exhibition schedule: Musée d’Orsay, Paris, September 25, 2012–January 20, 2013 (under the title L’impressionnisme et la mode); Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, February 26–May 27, 2013; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, June 26–September 29, 2013
During its time at the Musée d’Orsay L’impressionnisme et la mode elicited a flurry of anxious reviews from French critics and journalists, who sketched connections between the museum’s approximately twenty-eight-million-dollar facelift, the decline of public funding for museums, the institution’s increasingly liberal loan policy, and the need to generate revenue through ticket sales and private sponsorships—which, in the case of L’impressionnisme et la mode, was fittingly... Full Review
June 26, 2014
Lisa Phillips and Massimiliano Gioni, eds.
Exh. cat. New York: New Museum and Skira Rizzoli, 2013. 248 pp.; many color ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780847841790)
Exhibition schedule: New Museum, New York, NY, October 2, 2013–January 12, 2014
Chris Burden: Extreme Measures at the New Museum, the Los Angeles-based artist’s first major museum exhibition in the United States in twenty-five years and his first solo museum show in New York, is a boy’s dream come true. Organized by Lisa Phillips with Massimiliano Gioni and Jenny Moore, the show presents a grown-up man playing with toys. The difference is that, this time around, Burden’s adolescent universe gets a big injection of money, engineering, and industriousness. Even if... Full Review
June 19, 2014
College Art Association, 2013.
Exhibition schedule: Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, AZ, January 26–April 28, 2013
What to do with Paolo Soleri (1919–2013)? For the last half-century, the work of the Italian-born architect has seemingly refused to conform to the stylistic and theoretical concerns of the times. That is, until recently, when Cosanti, the foundation he established, began making efforts to transform the general perception of his work from one of an arts-and-crafts practice to that of visionary sustainable design. For the discipline of art history, however, Soleri’s legacy is important, not... Full Review
June 12, 2014
Koenraad Jonckheere, ed.
Trans. Michael Hoyle and Imogen Forster. Exh. cat. London and Turnhout: Harvey Miller in association with Brepols, 2013. 208 pp.; 178 color ills. Cloth $99.96 (9781909400146)
Exhibition schedule: M – Museum Leuven, October 31, 2013—February 23, 2014
Koenraad Jonckheere, ed.
Exh. cat. Leuven: Davidsfonds Uitgeverij and M – Museum Leuven, 2013. 128 pp.; 89 color ills. Paper € 19.95 (9789063066598)
Exhibition schedule: M – Museum Leuven, October 31, 2013—February 23, 2014
Organized by Koenraad Jonckheere in collaboration with Peter Carpreau, senior curator at M – Museum Leuven, this important, thoughtful, and beautiful exhibition aims to enshrine Michiel Coxcie among the select group of northern masters—Jan Gossaert, Jan van Scorel, Maarten van Heemskerck, and Frans Floris—who visited Rome during the first half of the sixteenth century and engaged inventively with the art of Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo, as with their ancient sources, both sculptural... Full Review
June 5, 2014
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