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

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Bernice Rose, Michelle White, and Gary Garrels, eds.
Exh. cat. Houston: Menil Collection, 2011. 232 pp.; 160 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (9780300169379)
Exhibition schedule: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, April 13–August 28, 2011; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, October 15, 2011–January 16, 2012; Menil Collection, Houston, March 2–June 10, 2012
Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is a surprisingly varied display of the artist’s exploration in process, the body, objectness, and architecture. Divided among the museum’s two fourth-floor wings, the retrospective flows chronologically. The first wing showcases some of Serra’s early small sculptures, several films, the residue of a sculptural performance, and drawings. The curators have dedicated the second wing solely to his... Full Review
May 24, 2012
Serge Lemoine
Exh. cat. Paris: Flammarion, 2011. 240 pp. Paper €39.00 (9782081257061)
Exhibition schedule: Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, March 25–July 11, 2011; Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Quebec, October 6, 2011–January 8, 2012 (with English title Up Close and Personal with the Caillebotte Brothers: Painter and Photographer)
Crowds gathered in Paris in the spring of 2011 to view an exhibition devoted to the Caillebotte brothers. Visitors enjoyed an opportunity to view famous works by Gustave Caillebotte (1848–1894) such as The House Painters (1877), Interior, Woman Seated (1880), and Interior, Woman at the Window (1880), as well as numerous less-known canvases (mostly drawn from private collections). More surprisingly, the exhibition introduced the amateur photography of Martial Caillebotte... Full Review
May 18, 2012
Jens Hoffman
Exh. cat. San Francisco: California College of the Arts, 2012. 72 pp.; many color ills. Cloth $25.00 (9780980205534)
Exhibition schedule: CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, October 4–December 17, 2011
Painting Between the Lines was an exhibition of the work of fourteen contemporary painters that sought to remedy the sad fact that literature has fallen by the wayside insofar as providing subject matter for contemporary art is concerned. True enough, but the remedy proposed by the exhibition was somewhat problematic, although it did manage to successfully reframe ways that we habitually look at contemporary paintings by encouraging a slower and more considered engagement. Curator Jens... Full Review
May 10, 2012
St. Petersburg, FL. Opened 11/1/2011.
Tampa, FL. Opened 2/6/2010.
The construction of a well-equipped museum building marks an important change in the cultural landscape of a city. Rarely on the map of major cultural destinations, the Tampa Bay area recently got not just one, but two, such additions, whose openings within less than a year created a momentous tectonic shift in the cultural scene. Built on comparable budgets and each located at a prominent waterfront site in its respective downtown, the Tampa Museum of Art (TMA) and the Dalí in Saint... Full Review
May 2, 2012
Susan Behrends Frank
Exh. cat. Washington, DC: Phillips Collection in association with Yale University Press, 2011. 112 pp.; 54 color ills.; 26 b/w ills.; 80 ills. Cloth $30.00 (9780300169652)
Exhibition schedule: Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, February 12–May 15, 2011
The Phillips Collection was recently given a David Smith sculpture, Bouquet of Concaves, and a gestural egg-ink drawing (both 1959). The lateral steel assemblage of irregular metal concave and convex shapes, set atop a slender pole, contrasts with the densely drawn web of staccato black strokes on white paper. Their differences reflect essential aspects of Smith’s yin-yang creative forces, poles vital to understanding the scope of his ambition and achievement. From these seeds, Susan... Full Review
May 2, 2012
Yoko Woodson
Exh. cat. San Francisco: Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 2009. 240 pp.; 182 color ills.; 4 b/w ills. Paper $30.00 (9780939117475)
Exhibition schedule: Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, June 12–September 20, 2009
Kazutoshi Harada, ed.
Exh. cat. Santa Ana, CA and Tokyo: Bowers Museum and Tokyo National Museum, 2009. 207 pp.; 80 color ills. Cloth $39.95 (9781607435792)
Exhibition schedule: Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, CA, April 19–June 14, 2009
Morihiro Ogawa, ed.
Exh. cat. New York and New Haven: Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2009. 356 pp.; 246 color ills.; 117 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300142051)
Exhibition schedule: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, October 21, 2009–January 10, 2010
The year 2009 yielded a bumper crop of exhibitions about the art of the Japanese “samurai.” In addition to those documented in the three catalogues reviewed here, the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, CA, mounted The Samurai Re-Imagined: From Ukiyo-e to Anime, showing Edo-period woodblock prints alongside contemporary manga comics and anime cels and drawings (but issuing no catalogue). Although the latter catered wholly to popular culture, the other three were far more conventional. But... Full Review
April 19, 2012
Wanda M. Corn and Tirza True Latimer
Exh. cat. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011. 416 pp.; 80 color ills.; 172 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780520270022)
Exhibition schedule: Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, May 12–September 6, 2011; National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC, October 14–January 22, 2012
Janet Bishop, Cécile Debray, and Rebecca Rabinow, eds.
Exh. cat. San Francisco: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2011. 492 pp.; 400 color ills.; 220 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300169416)
Exhibition schedule: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, May 21–September 6, 2011; Grand Palais, Paris, October 3, 2011–January 20, 2012; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, February 21–June 3, 2012
The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso and the Parisian Avant-Garde at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories at the nearby Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) were astutely planned as complementary perspectives on the broad contexts for Gertrude Stein’s life and work. The most important aspect of these affiliated exhibitions is the copious interwoven personal, historical, biographical, and legendary stories of this unique literary... Full Review
April 19, 2012
Carol S. Eliel, ed.
Exh. cat. New York: Prestel, 2011. 176 pp.; 90 color ills.; 60 b/w ills. Cloth $49.95 (9783791351216)
Exhibition schedule: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, April 3–June 24, 2011; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, October 6, 2011–January 8, 2012; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH, January 28–April 15, 2012
David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy is the first major presentation of Smith’s work on the West Coast since the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s (LACMA) own memorial exhibition held in 1965, which consisted of a dozen works from the Cubi series and two Zigs, all executed in the last years of his life, from 1961 to 1965. The present exhibition seeks to set these late works in context by demonstrating that Smith’s use of geometric form in these sculptures did not represent a... Full Review
March 14, 2012
Exhibition schedule: Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, March 10–July 3, 2011
Robert Smithson (1938–1973) once remarked, “I’m not a reductive artist, I’m a generative artist” (Moira Roth, “An Interview with Robert Smithson (1973),” in Eugenie Tsai, ed., Robert Smithson, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004, 88). The Smithson Effect, an exhibition at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts exploring Smithson’s afterlife in the work of other artists since the 1990s, proves that his generative quality exceeded even his own lifetime. With The Smithson... Full Review
March 8, 2012
Exhibition schedule: Freer Gallery of Art, April 9, 2011–Spring 2013
The Peacock Room at the Freer Gallery of Art has been many things to many people. Designed by Thomas Jeckyll as a dining room with leather walls and intricate shelving, and radically redecorated by James McNeill Whistler in 1876–77, it originally grew around Whistler’s Princesse du pays de la porcelaine (1863–64) and showcased the blue-and-white Chinese porcelain of Whistler’s London patron Frederick Leyland. In 1904 it was purchased by Charles Lang Freer and installed in a special... Full Review
February 2, 2012