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

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Debra Bricker Balken
Exh. cat. Williamstown, MA: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2009. 168 pp.; 139 color ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780300134100)
Exhibition schedule: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, June 7– September 7, 2009
Dove/O’Keeffe: Circles of Influence, a major exhibition at the Clark Art Institute curated by Debra Bricker Balken, began with an intriguing juxtaposition. Opposite the introductory text, one found Arthur Dove’s Moon (1935) mounted side by side with Georgia O’Keeffe’s last and most abstract Jack-in-the-Pulpit, VI (1930). These paintings show the two artists working in distinct styles within the modernist arc of nature abstraction. Yet the show’s organizing premise, that... Full Review
April 7, 2010
Katherine Baetjer, ed.
Exh. cat. New York and New Haven: Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2009. 176 pp.; 75 color ills.; 10 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (9780300155075)
Exhibition schedule: Metropolitan Museum of Art, September 22–November 29, 2009
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is ideally suited for an exhibition devoted to the theme of “Watteau, Music, and Theater” because two of Watteau’s most incisive treatments of these themes reside in its collection: the solitary singer Mezzetin (ca. 1718–20) and the tragic-comic French Comedians (ca. 1720–21). Both works also display Watteau’s ineffable fusion of performance and humanity, artifice and nature, and gestures both rote and heartfelt. The exhibition, rich in drawings as... Full Review
March 24, 2010
Exhibition schedule: Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago: September 20–December 13, 2009
Given its location in Chicago, the Renaissance Society was the perfect venue for Allan Sekula’s Polonia and Other Fables, forty photographs and accompanying texts three years in the making. The exhibition represented a joint commission between the Renaissance Society and the Zacheta National Gallery in Warsaw. Polonia refers to Poles living outside their country, and Chicago is host to the largest population outside of Warsaw. For centuries, Poland has been dominated by... Full Review
March 10, 2010
Ronda Kasl, ed.
Exh. cat. Indianapolis and New Haven: Indianapolis Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2009. 400 pp.; 125 color ills.; 25 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300154719)
Exhibition schedule: Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, October 11, 2009–January 3, 2010
Sacred Spain: Art and Belief in the Spanish World defied conventional boundaries of what constitutes “Spanish” art. It was a refreshingly intelligent exhibition, and ideally will set new standards for how the field is studied. It presented the imagery of Catholicism as a common denominator of Spanish identity in Old World and New. The stunning selection of objects was presented in six thematic sections to remind viewers of their original raison d’être: “In Defense of Images,” “True... Full Review
March 9, 2010
Exhibition schedule: Guggenheim Museum, New York, January 29–March 10, 2010
BEFORE I’ve decided on the odd but I think appropriate approach of starting to write about Tino Sehgal before seeing the exhibition because so much discussion and disclosure has taken place about it, a lot of it on web-based networking sites such as Facebook and art sites such as Artnet, and most of it in reaction to Sehgal's efforts to control "the situation" and his brand. This discourse is part of the total experience of a project that for some is important, even transformative... Full Review
March 3, 2010
Janice Katz, ed.
Exh. cat. Chicago and St. Louis: Art Institute of Chicago and Saint Louis Art Museum, 2009. 216 pp.; 145 color ills. Cloth $55.00 (9780300119480)
Exhibition schedule: Art Institute of Chicago, June 26, 2009–September 27, 2009; Saint Louis Art Museum, October 18, 2009–January 1, 2010
The Art Institute of Chicago and Saint Louis Art Museum recently organized a visually rich exhibition featuring thirty-two Japanese folding-screen compositions from the sixteenth to twentieth centuries. Sporting a different title at each location, the exhibition brought together the best of both collections and smartly used the diverse works to present a multi-faceted introduction to the folding screen. The two museums fashioned surprisingly different viewing experiences. With... Full Review
March 3, 2010
Exhibition schedule: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, September 26, 2009–February 21, 2010
Childhood often conjures images of an idyllic time of innocence and bliss. Although captivating to the popular imagination, such visions are by no means timeless or universal, and perhaps nothing more than nostalgic conceit. This is where the curators of Hide & Seek: Picturing Childhood, April Watson and Jane Aspinwall, intervened by assembling a variety of photographic images of children, dating from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. Of the forty-four photographers... Full Review
March 3, 2010
Peter Parshall
Exh. cat. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art in association with Lund Humphries, 2009. 192 pp.; 86 color ills. Cloth $50.00 (9781848220218)
Exhibition schedule: Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, April 5–June 28, 2009; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, October 1, 2009–January 18, 2010; Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, February 11–June 10, 2010
Thought-provoking and intriguing, The Darker Side of Light: Arts of Privacy, 1850–1900, seen by this reviewer at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, is the kind of exhibition museums should organize more often. It is primarily a works-on-paper show, featuring around one hundred prints, three drawings, four illustrated books, and ten sculptures. Including objects made during the last half of the nineteenth century, this display presents a broad range of artists: the French... Full Review
February 3, 2010
Luis Enrique Pérez-Oramas
Exh. cat. New York and São Paulo: Museum of Modern Art and Cosac Naify, 2009. 200 pp.; 220 color ills. Cloth $55.00 (9780870707506)
Exhibition schedule: Museum of Modern Art, New York, April 5–June 15, 2009
This dual retrospective of Mira Schendel (Brazilian, b. Switzerland, 1919–1988) and Léon Ferrari (Argentine, b. 1920) was without a doubt a major contribution to the expanding canon of experimental art from the sixties. Spanning Schendel’s career from the late 1950s through the late 1980s and Ferrari’s production from the late 1950s through 2007, the two hundred pieces in a variety of media, but predominantly on paper, assembled in the exhibition and exquisitely installed by MoMA curator Luis... Full Review
December 16, 2009
Andrea Bacchi, Catherine Hess, and Jennifer Montagu, eds.
Exh. cat. Los Angeles and Ottawa: J. Paul Getty Museum and National Gallery of Canada, 2008. 336 pp.; 155 color ills.; 114 b/w ills. Paper $44.95 (9780892369324)
Exhibition schedule: J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, August 5–October 26, 2008; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, November 28, 2008–March 8, 2009; Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence, April 2–July 12, 2009 (as “‘I Marmi Vivi:” Gian Lorenzo Bernini e la nascità del ritratto barocco, with catalogue in Italian)
With two independent exhibitions in 2008 devoted to the Baroque portrait bust—Heads on Shoulders: Portrait Busts in the Low Countries, 1600–1800, at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp; and Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture, co-organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum and the National Gallery of Canada—the genre of early modern portrait sculpture celebrated an unparalleled year. There has never been a specialized exhibition of Gianlorenzo Bernini’s portrait... Full Review
November 18, 2009