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

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Jimmie Durham
Paris: Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2009. 232 pp.; many color ills. Cloth £ 45.00 (9782759600847)
Exhibition Schedule: Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, January 30–April 12, 2009
In making art, Jimmie Durham sometimes lets his materials do the sculpting. As Encore tranquillité (2008) reveals, the forces he unleashes from seemingly lifeless objects can be startling. The work features an enormous rock settled atop the smashed halves of a small, single-engine airplane. Originally displayed in an old Russian airfield outside of Berlin, it was relocated to the foyer on the second floor of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris as the centerpiece of Rejected... Full Review
July 1, 2009
Mark W. Scala, ed.
Exh. cat. Nashville: Frist Center for the Visual Arts in association with Vanderbilt University Press, 2009. 160 pp.; 74 color ills.; 4 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (9780826516220)
Exhibition schedule: Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, January 23–May 10, 2009; Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, June 20–September 13, 2009; Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, October 23, 2009–January 3, 2010
In his introduction to the catalogue accompanying the exhibition Paint Made Flesh, curator Mark Scala writes that the show seeks to trace a history of “the depicted body as a metaphor for the relationship between self and society as it has changed throughout the decades following World War II” (1). It does so admirably, if incompletely, and without making the recalibrations to larger understandings of postwar painting that seem to be its latent promise. As such, it is an exhibition... Full Review
June 16, 2009
Elizabeth Smith
Exh. cat. Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz in association with Musuem of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 2008. 128 pp.; 94 color ills.; 12 b/w ills. Cloth $45.00 (9783775723015)
Exhibition schedule: Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, October 25, 2008–February 1, 2009; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, March 12–May 31, 2009; Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, November 1, 2009–January 24, 2010
The exhibition Jenny Holzer: PROTECT PROTECT demonstrates a renewed validity for the artist's LED signs, which have long been considered canonical to both contemporary art and feminist discourses. Having made these electronic installations for more than twenty-five years, Holzer seemingly predicted the appearance of the ubiquitous ticker that now streams constantly at the base of television and computer screens. She recognized early on that electronic technology was a crucial site of... Full Review
June 10, 2009
Terese Tse Bartholomew and John Johnston
Exh. cat. Honolulu and Chicago: Honolulu Academy of Arts and Kingdom of Bhutan in association with Serindia Publications, 2008. 480 pp.; 300 color ills. Paper $45.95 (9781932476361)
Exhibition Schedule: Honolulu Academy of Art, Honolulu, February 23–May 23, 2008; Rubin Museum, New York, September 19, 2008–January 5, 2009; Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, San Francisco, February 20–May 10, 2009; Musee Guimet, Paris, October 6, 2009–January 25, 2010; Museum of East Asian Art, Cologne, February 19–May 23, 2010; Museum Rietberg, Zurich, July 4–October 17, 2010
The exhibition The Dragon’s Gift: Sacred Arts of Bhutan features emerging curatorial trends with regard to premodern Asian art, and displays a wealth of treasures from a little-known Himalayan kingdom on the northeastern border of India. Bronze Buddhas, thangkas of wrathful deities, footage of live performance, monks busy at their prayers, Buddhist lineage portraits, and gigantic textiles are just some of the multi-media experiences the show presents. From the only independent... Full Review
May 13, 2009
Eva Meyer-Hermann, ed.
Exh. cat. Amsterdam, Stockholm, Pittsburgh, and Rotterdam: Stedelijk Museum, Moderna Museet, and Andy Warhol Museum in association with NAi Publishers, 2008. 176 pp.; many color ills. Paper $50.00 (9789056626754)
Exhibition schedule: Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, October 12, 2007–January 13, 2008; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, February 9–May 4, 2008; Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University, Columbus, September 13, 2008–February 15, 2009; The Hayward, Southbank Centre, London, October 7, 2008–January 18, 2009
Exhibition schedule: Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH, September 27, 2008–January 4, 2009; Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York, Purchase, NY, February 15–April 26, 2009
This fall, the battleground states of New Hampshire and Ohio each enlisted an Andy Warhol that was more man than machine and more substance than image to grapple with life and politics at the end of the Bush era. The Warhols on display in Andy Warhol: Pop Politics at the Currier Museum and in Andy Warhol: Other Voices, Other Rooms at the Wexner Center combine the nuances of mass media with the traditions of graphic arts and painting to delve into personal and public life in the... Full Review
May 13, 2009
Barbara Thompson, ed.
Exh. cat. Hanover, N.H. and Seattle: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College in association with University of Washington Press, 2008. 376 pp.; 212 color ills.; 38 b/w ills. Paper $50.00 (9780295987712)
Exhibition schedule: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, April 1–August 10, 2008; Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA, September 10–December 10, 2008; San Diego Museum of Art, January 31–April 26, 2009
Black Womanhood: Images, Icons, and Ideologies of the African Body was an attractive and smart show. The Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College, its second venue of three, offered a stunning introduction to the galleries from its entrance balcony where Allison Saar’s 2006 Cache—a life-sized, tin-clad nude figure in a fetal position held in place by a giant ball of wire—was draped across the floor beneath Baby Back, Renée Cox’s oversized blackout C-print... Full Review
May 12, 2009
Peter Saul, Robert Storr, Dan Cameron, and Michael Duncan
Exh. cat. Ostfildern-Ruit, Germany: Hatje Cantz, 2008. 160 pp.; 94 color ills.; 2 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (9783775722049)
Exhibition schedule: Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, June 22–September 21, 2008; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, October 18, 2008–January 4, 2009; Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, February 7–April 5, 2009
“I do like to hit the nerves,” painter Peter Saul confesses. Yes, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it when he does. In the past, whenever I encountered Saul’s paintings—unmistakable with their garish, artificially hot colors and repellant imagery—I quickly withdrew from this frontal assault on my sensibilities. As it turns out, I was shortchanging myself. I rescinded my snap judgments after seeing the first major U.S. survey of Saul’s paintings and drawings from the early 1960s to... Full Review
April 29, 2009
Renato Miracco and Maria Christina Bandera, eds.
Exh. cat. Milan: Skira, 2008. 368 pp.; 255 color ills.; 45 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9788861307162)
Exhibition schedule: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, September 16–December 14, 2008; Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna, January 22–April 12, 2009
Giorgio Morandi, 1890–1964, co-organized by the Museo d’Arte Moderna of Bologna and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was the first comprehensive survey of Morandi’s work in the United States. The exhibition gathered 110 paintings, watercolors, drawings, and etchings by the reserved, often elusive, and sometimes underappreciated Italian painter of still life and landscape. The curators, Maria Cristina Bandera, Director of the Fondazione Roberto Longhi in Florence, and Renato Miracco,... Full Review
April 15, 2009
Nicholas Baume, Jen Mergel, and Lawrence Weschler
Exh. cat. Boston: Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston and Monacelli Press, 2008. 160 pp.; 99 color ills. Cloth $45.00 (9781580932134)
Exhibition schedule: Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Boston, October 10, 2008–January 4, 2009; Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, Cincinnati, February 7–May 11, 2009; Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, June 19–September 13, 2009; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, San Diego, October 10, 2009–January 16, 2010
In her recent career survey organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Boston, Tara Donovan creates ethereal, environmental sculptures out of such banal, everyday objects as toothpicks, Scotch tape, Mylar, and plastic cups. Working with one material at a time, and testing the range of its physical properties, Donovan subverts the utilitarian function of an object through a process of accumulation. In the seventeen works on view from the past decade, she stacks, piles, or otherwise... Full Review
March 25, 2009
Andrea Bayer, ed.
Exh. cat. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2008. 392 pp.; 300 color ills.; 75 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300124118)
Exhibition schedule: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, November 11, 2008–February 16, 2009; Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, March 15–June 14, 2009
In almost every sense, the exhibition Art and Love in Renaissance Italy and the accompanying catalogue are retrospective. First, they include many objects that were acquired by collectors at the beginning of the twentieth century, during an earlier period of interest in the history of private life. Second, they draw upon and summarize four recent decades of historical and art-historical scholarship focused on the family life of Renaissance Italians and the material objects that... Full Review
March 25, 2009