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

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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
Cornelia Homburg, ed.
Exh. cat. New Haven, Ottawa, and Philadelphia: Yale University Press in association with National Gallery of Canada and Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2012. 306 pp.; 200 color ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780300181296)
Exhibition schedule: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, February 2–May 6, 2012; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, May 25–September 3, 2012
Timothy J. Standring and Louis van Tilborgh, eds.
Exh. cat. Denver and New Haven: Denver Art Museum in association with Yale University Press, 2012. 288 pp.; 262 color ills. Cloth $50.00 (9780300186864)
Exhibition schedule: Denver Art Museum, October 21, 2012–January 20, 2013
Just before Christmas 1881, Vincent van Gogh took some of his studies to The Hague to show Anton Mauve, then a well-known painter (and his cousin by marriage). It was his first professional art criticism. As he later wrote to his brother, Theo, “When Mauve saw my studies, he said at once, ‘You are sitting too close to your model.’” No reference to this episode is made in the catalogue or labels for Van Gogh Up Close, but it seems to me quite revealing and pertinent to the theme of... Full Review
July 25, 2013
William A. P. Childs, Joanna S. Smith, and J. Michael Padgett, eds.
Exh. cat. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Art Museum, 2012. 360 pp.; 250 color ills.; 30 b/w ills. Paper $55.00 (9780300174397)
City of Gold: Tomb and Temple in Ancient Cyprus. Exhibition schedule: Princeton University Art Museum, October 20, 2012–January 20, 2013
Polis Chrysochous, the modern town in a fertile river valley on the northwest coast of Cyprus mentioned in the scholarly catalogue’s title (but not in the exhibition’s), was, from 1983–2007, the location of excavations by Princeton University’s Cyprus Expedition directed by one of this show’s curators, William A. P. Childs, professor emeritus of art and archaeology. Called “city flowing with gold (chrysos)” since the nineteenth century, the titular City of Gold overlays two rich... Full Review
July 10, 2013
C. D. Dickerson III, Anthony Sigel, and Ian Wardropper
Exh. cat. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. 432 pp.; 437 color ills.; 35 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300185003)
Exhibition schedule: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, October 3, 2012–January 6, 2013; Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, February 3–May 5, 2013
Hard and unyielding, marble is a rock that must be wrestled with by sheer force, exquisite care, and grunt of labor. Human hands require the intermediary hammer and chisel, and touch is distanced in the service of the eye. To give this rock the spark of life is a formidable task, one that few are able to accomplish. Red clay is mud. Dirty, cheap, and plentiful, it is underfoot, low, and common. By dint of water it is plastic and alive, the fingers imprinting an instant record of presence,... Full Review
June 26, 2013
Alena Williams, ed.
Exh. cat. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011. 256 pp.; 100 color ills.; 80 b/w ills.; 180 ills. Cloth $49.95 (9780520268562)
Exhibition schedule: Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Gallery, Columbia University, New York, September 22–December 11, 2010; Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, Germany, January 28–March 27, 2011; Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago, October 7–December 17, 2011; Tufts University Art Gallery at the Aidekman Arts Center, Medford, MA, January 19–April 1, 2012; Santa Fe Art Institute, Santa Fe, May 5–June 29, 2012; Utah Museum of Fine Arts, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, October 19, 2012–January 20, 2013
More than a formal practice of using earth as material, Land art has from the beginning been concerned with social, political, and cultural issues that cannot be separated from the land we inhabit. We know that “landscape” is an ideologically invested term, and artists dealing with their relationship to the land are by no means unique to contemporary art. However, Nancy Holt: Sightlines demonstrates that in the 1960s and 1970s the expansion of media in art played a central role in how... Full Review
June 20, 2013