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

Browse Recent Exhibition Reviews

Desmond Shawe-Taylor
Exh. cat. London: Royal Collection Publications, 2009. 191 pp.; 157 color ills.; 14 b/w ills. Paper $30.00 (9781905686070)
Exhibition schedule: Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, March 27–September 20, 2008; Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London, October 30, 2009–February 14, 2010
Sir Philip Sassoon organized the first exhibition of the English conversation piece in 1930. Describing this type of painting as “a representation of two or more persons in a state of dramatic or psychological relation to each other,” Sassoon displayed over 150 eighteenth-century pictures in his own house. Following Sassoon’s identification of the genre, books and exhibitions about the conversation piece appeared steadily between the 1930s and 1980s. More recently, studies on the emergence of... Full Review
October 21, 2011
Sandra S. Phillips, ed.
San Francisco and New Haven: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in association with Yale University Press, 2010. 256 pp.; 230 color ills. Cloth $50.00 (9780300163438)
Exhibition schedule: Tate Modern, London, May 28–October 3, 2010; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, October 30, 2010–April 17, 2011; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, May 21–September 11, 2011
Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera Since 1870 began by turning a spotlight on its viewers. A robotic beam shone from above, following its subjects across the first floor atrium of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) through a series of improvised tests: small circles, long strides. Its operators were invisible because they were absent. Anonymous spectators selected targets remotely using their own computers and a streaming feed. ACCESS (2003) by Marie... Full Review
September 15, 2011
Maryan W. Ainsworth, ed.
Exh. cat. New York and New Haven: Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2010. 496 pp.; 337 color ills.; 116 b/w ills. Cloth $85.00 (9780300166576)
Exhibition schedule: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, October 5, 2010–January 17, 2011; National Gallery, London, February 23–May 30, 2011 (in a reduced version as Jan Gossaert’s Renaissance)
This seminal exhibition, which opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art before traveling to the National Gallery, London, was the first devoted to Jan Gossart in the United States and the first major monographic exhibition anywhere since 1965. The accompanying catalogue, which serves as a catalogue raisonné of the entire oeuvre, re-shapes the contours of this important early sixteenth-century artist and illuminates key questions about his working habits, patronage, and the themes and... Full Review
September 1, 2011
Kenneth E. Silver
Exh. cat. New York: Guggenheim Museum, 2010. 200 pp.; 155 color ills. Paper $40.00 (9780892074051)
Exhibition schedule: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, October 1, 2010–January 9, 2011
It is customary to think of European art between the First and Second World Wars in the plural—as defined by competing forms of abstraction, divergent realisms, and assorted returns to tradition. The principal goal of Chaos and Classicism: Art in France, Italy, and Germany, 1918–1936 was to assert an underlying unity to the period between the Armistice of 1918 and the Berlin Olympics of 1936. The chaos and mechanized destruction of World War I, the exhibition and its catalogue... Full Review
September 1, 2011
The opening of the new Art of the Americas Wing at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston, was one of the major—if not the major—museum events in the United States in 2010. Accompanied by a tidal wave of publicity at the regional and national levels, the new wing expands the museum’s previous display space by over one-third; it showcases art from both South and North America, offering a more expansive definition of “America” than has been standard in museum collections; and it includes... Full Review
August 25, 2011
Copious accolades and impressive numerical figures fed into the hype surrounding the opening, in November 2010, of the Art of the Americas Wing at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston. One can read in the mainstream media sensational descriptions of the elegant four-floor, 121,307-square-foot glass rectangle (designed by the London firm Foster + Partners) that houses the wing and many plaudits of its fifty-three galleries (which showcase over five thousand objects, more than double the... Full Review
August 25, 2011
Exhibition schedule: Neil L. and Angelica Zander Rudenstine Gallery, W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, September 2–December 3, 2010
The European tradition in the graphic arts began in the fifteenth century, and early prints are notable for a bold and rapid exploration of new subjects and themes. Given the much expanded degree of interaction between Christian Europeans and black Africans that developed during the 1400s, one might imagine that printmakers would have been eager to depict persons of color. Yet the first attempts to do so were halting, and for a paradoxical reason: graphic artists had a hard time showing dark... Full Review
August 25, 2011
Heather Campbell Coyle, ed.
Wilmington: Delaware Art Museum, 2010. 16 pp.; 4 ills. (9780977I64424)
Exhibition schedule: Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, September 26, 2010–January 9, 2011
Monumental color woodcuts were the most striking feature of the work of Leonard Baskin (1922–2000) displayed in a single large, light-filled room at the Delaware Art Museum. Although Baskin thought of himself primarily as a sculptor, the only freestanding sculpture included was Lazarus (1960), and his legacy will rest on the superb craftsmanship and expressionist power of his relief prints and letterpress books. The solo show was comprised of the seventy-six works created between1952... Full Review
July 28, 2011
John M. D. Pohl and Claire L. Lyons
Exh. cat. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010. 112 pp.; 38 color ills.; 9 b/w ills. Cloth $25.00 (9781606060070)
Exhibition schedule: J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Villa, Malibu, March 24–July 5, 2010.
Khristaan D. Villela
Ed. Mary Ellen Miller. Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2010. 344 pp.; 22 color ills.; 144 b/w ills. Cloth $49.00 (9781606060049)
A brainchild of former Getty Museum Director Michael Brand and scheduled to commemorate the bicentennial of Mexican independence from Spain, The Aztec Pantheon and the Art of Empire was the most ambitious exhibition undertaken by the Getty Villa since its reopening in 2006. A “museum and educational center dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria” (according to its website), the Getty’s Roman-style villa proved a provocative and unexpectedly... Full Review
July 21, 2011
Clare Browne and Mark Evans
Exh. cat. London: V&A Publishing, 2010. 120 pp. Cloth $24.95 (9781851776344)
Exhibition schedule: Victoria and Albert Museum, London, September 8–October 24, 2010
The Victoria and Albert Museum’s small but fascinating exhibition Raphael: Cartoons and Tapestries for the Sistine Chapel brought together four tapestries from the Vatican Museum’s famous ten-piece Acts of the Apostles set and seven of Raphael’s original full-scale designs for the weavings, which are housed at the V&A. The show offered an unprecedented opportunity to compare preparatory and final works, each a Renaissance masterpiece in its own right. In addition, a small group... Full Review
July 14, 2011