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

Browse Recent Exhibition Reviews

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
Katherine R. Tsiang
Exh. cat. Chicago: Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, 2010. 257 pp.; 160 color ills. Paper $45.00 (9780935573503)
Exhibition schedule: Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, Chicago, September 30, 2010–January 16, 2011; Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, February 26–July 31, 2011; Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, September 11, 2011–January 8, 2012; San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, February 18–May 27, 2012
The exhibition Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan focuses on sculptural fragments from, and the subsequent digital reconstruction of, the Buddhist cave temple site of Xiangtangshan, located in Hebei Province in northern China. The inception of the site dates to the short-lived yet prolific Northern Qi Dynasty (550–577), the subject of the accompanying international conference held at the Freer Gallery on June 3–5, 2011. The name Xiangtangshan may be... Full Review
January 27, 2012
Donald Albrecht and Thomas Mellins
Exh. cat. New York: Monacelli Press, 2011. 224 pp.; 180 ills. Cloth $50.00 (9791580932851)
Exhibition schedule: Museum of the City of New York, June 14–October 30, 2011
Curated by Donald Albrecht and Thomas Mellins, The American Style: The Colonial Revival and the Modern Metropolis was a delightful and instructive exhibition. In one ample room, divided by projecting vitrines and one partial transverse wall, they displayed paintings, drawings, prints, furniture, ceramics, glass, photographs, and even current wallpaper. Various forms of classical revival became widely acknowledged from the late 1870s onward as the best and truest American expression... Full Review
January 27, 2012
Jeffrey Deitch, Roger Gastman, and Aaron Rose
Exh. cat. New York and Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2011. 320 pp.; 275 color ills. Paper $39.95 (9780847836482)
Exhibition schedule: Museum of Contemporary Art, Geffen Contemporary, April 17–August 8, 2011
Issues of high and low—fine art versus popular culture—ran rampant through Art in the Streets, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA). The first major U.S. museum exhibition devoted to exploring the history of graffiti and street art, it took any number of risks with regard to the challenges it posed to conventional notions of museum art. The exhibition succeeded in large measure and was at once raucous, thought provoking, and illuminating. Not surprisingly, it... Full Review
January 11, 2012
Edmund Carpenter, ed.
Exh. cat. Houston: Menil Collection, 2011. 232 pp.; 132 color ills.; 62 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (9780300169386)
Exhibition schedule: Musée du quai Branly, Paris, September 30, 2008–January 11, 2009; Menil Collection, Houston, April 15—July 17, 2011
When describing the carved artworks of the Aboriginal people of the Arctic regions, the anthropologist Edmund Snow Carpenter once observed: “A distinctive mark of the traditional art is that many of the ivory carvings, generally of sea mammals, won’t stand up, but roll clumsily about. Each lacks a single, favored point of view, hence, a base. Indeed, they aren’t intended to be set in place and viewed, but rather to be worn or handled, turned this way and that. The carver himself explains his... Full Review
January 4, 2012
Claire Perry
Exh. cat. Washington, DC: Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2011. 256 pp.; 74 color ills.; 53 b/w ills. Paper $45.00 (9780979067891)
Exhibition schedule: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, July 15, 2011—January 8, 2012
Organized in collaboration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, The Great American Hall of Wonders at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) celebrated the United States as an exceptional nation. Spanning the entire nineteenth century, but primarily the transcontinental, expansionist period of 1826–1876, the exhibition represented the nation’s citizens in possession of unparalleled democratic liberties and socio-economic opportunities, as they utilized their... Full Review
January 4, 2012