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

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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
Elizabeth Kennedy, ed.
Exh. cat. Chicago: Terra Foundation for American Art in association with University of Chicago Press, 2009. 144 pp.; 135 color ills.; 5 b/w ills. Cloth $29.95 (9780932171566)
Exhibition schedule: New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT, March 6–May 24, 2009; Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, June 6–August 23, 2009
The Eight and American Modernisms was the latest exhibition that sought to find some kind of unifying thread to bind together eight artists—Arthur B. Davies, William Glackens, Robert Henri, Ernest Lawson, George Luks, Maurice Prendergast, Everett Shinn, and John Sloan—whose formal association lasted roughly a year and whose art has bedeviled the efforts of art historians to assess the importance of their contribution, collectively or as individuals. When the artists banded together in... Full Review
November 4, 2009
Álvaro Soler del Campo
Exh. cat. Washington, DC and Madrid: National Gallery of Art, State Corporation for Spanish Cultural Action Abroad, and Patrimonio Nacional, 2009. 300 pp.; 160 color ills. Paper $60.00
Exhibition schedule: National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, June 28–November 29, 2009
The Art of Power: Royal Armor and Portraits from Imperial Spain, which can only be seen at the National Gallery of Art, offers an excellent sequel to a series of recent exhibitions on Spanish themes, including the wonderful El Greco to Velázquez: Art during the Reign of Philip III, which was on view last year at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Nasher Museum at Duke University (click here for review). But whereas that... Full Review
October 28, 2009
Exhibition schedule: Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, TN, June 20–September 6, 2009
The Prints of Jacob Lawrence, 1963–2000, showcased eighty-one prints by the master African American artist in a crowd-pleasing exhibition that provided a platform for one of the lesser-known parts of Lawrence’s extensive oeuvre. The screenprints, lithographs, etchings, drypoints, and single woodcut displayed in the show represented almost the entirety of Lawrence’s output as a printmaker and were brought together courtesy of the DC Moore Gallery in New York for this show at the Memphis... Full Review
October 28, 2009
Ann Goldstein, ed.
Exh. cat. Los Angeles and Cambridge, MA: Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and MIT Press, 2008. 372 pp.; 151 color ills.; 30 b/w ills. Cloth $44.95 (9781933751092)
Exhibition schedule: Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, September 20, 2008–January 5, 2009; Museum of Modern Art, New York, March 1–May 11, 2009
The critical reception of Martin Kippenberger's work is indiscernible from that of his persona. Kippenberger died of cancer in 1997 at the age of forty-four. But his myth lives on, carefully perpetuated by his peers and by a cohort of assistants who were involved in not only the production of his work but also the production of its meaning, and faithfully disseminated in the circulation systems that Kippenberger's work addressed or that became at times the work itself. (His reintegration of... Full Review
October 28, 2009
Carlos Basualdo, ed.
Exh. cat. New Haven and Philadelphia : Yale University Press in association with Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2009. 240 pp.; 120 color ills.; 40 b/w ills. Cloth $40.00 (9780300149814)
Exhibition schedule: United States Pavilion at the 53rd International Art Exhibition—La Biennale di Venezia. Organizing institution: Philadelphia Museum of Art. Exhibition Curators: Carlos Basualdo and Michael Taylor. June 7–November 22, 2009. A portion of the exhibition will be traveling to the Philadelphia Museum of Art: November 21, 2009–April 4, 2010.
Bruce Nauman’s masterful Topological Gardens, which was the United States entry in the 53rd International Art Exhibition—La Biennale de Venezia, not surprisingly won the Golden Lion Award for best national pavilion. Breaking from most previous U.S. exhibitions at the biennale, Nauman’s amounts to a not-so-mini-survey and is spread, also uncharacteristically, over three venues—the United States Pavilion in the Giardini, the Università Iuav di Venezia at Tolentini, and the Università Ca’... Full Review
September 29, 2009
Exhibition schedule: MOCA Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles, October 19, 2008–March 1, 2009
For this exhibition, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles, assembled over 130 works by more than 100 artists to present the first large-scale exhibition of artists’ books in Los Angeles since 1978. But To Illustrate and Multiply was not a historical survey of artists’ books. Despite the expanse of works included, the exhibition was decidedly contemporary in scope—the earliest book on view was Ray Johnson’s The Paper Snake from 1965, and many of the books presented... Full Review
September 23, 2009