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

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Mary Morton, ed.
Exh. cat. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007. 166 pp.; 83 color ills.; 33 b/w ills. Paper $39.95 (9780892368891)
Exhibition schedule: Getty Museum, Los Angeles, May 1–September 2, 2007; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, October 7–January 6, 2008; Staatliches Museum Schwerin, April 4–July 6, 2008
The story behind this unusual, revealing, and enjoyable exhibition and accompanying catalogue begins with the voyage, in May 2003, of a life-size painting, fifteen-feet across, of an exotic, two-ton beast. Rolled up in storage for a century and a half, this all-but-forgotten portrait of a celebrity rhinoceros arrived in Los Angeles that month from the Staatliches Museum Schwerin, in the former German Democratic Republic, to be conserved at the Getty Museum and readied for permanent exhibition... Full Review
May 21, 2008
Deborah Rothschild, ed.
Exh. cat. Williamstown and Berkeley: Williams College Museum of Art in association with University of California Press, 2007. 244 pp.; 70 color ills.; 145 b/w ills. Paper $34.95 (9780520252400)
Exhibition schedule: Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, July 8–November 11, 2007; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, February 26–May 4, 2008; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, June 8–September 15, 2008
Gerald and Sara Murphy were admired—adored—by many of the best-known members of the transatlantic avant-garde in the 1920s. John Dos Passos, their frequent guest both in Paris and on the Riviera, wrote happily of being “entertained . . . with great elegance and a great deal of gin fizz.” For Fernand Léger, Gerald was “the only American painter in Paris.” F. Scott Fitzgerald dedicated Tender Is the Night to them; the novel’s protagonists, the Divers, were modeled on the Murphys. Perhaps... Full Review
May 14, 2008
Tomaso Montanari
Exh. cat. Milan: Silvana Editoriale, 2007. 239 pp.; 51 color ills.; many b/w ills. Paper Euros 35.00 (9788836609604)
Exhibition schedule: Galleria Nazionale di Palazzo Barberini, Rome, October 19, 2007–January 20, 2008
Bernini pittore, the title of the first exhibition devoted exclusively to Gianlorenzo Bernini’s painterly practice as well as of the accompanying catalogue, is a provocative reconstruction of this lesser-known aspect of the Baroque artist’s multidisciplinary career. Conceived and curated by Tomaso Montanari for the recently restored Palazzo Barberini in Rome, the comprehensive exhibit and catalogue offer a new monograph on Bernini’s painting under a purposely familiar title.... Full Review
April 30, 2008
Okwui Enwezor
Exh. cat. New York and Göttingen: International Center of Photography and Steidl, 2008. 224 pp.; 185 ills. Paper $45.00 (978385216229)
Exhibition schedule: International Center of Photography, New York, January 18–May 4, 2008
Archive Fever: Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art, curated by Okwui Enwezor, explores a variety of ways in which contemporary artists appropriate, investigate, and reconfigure archival materials and structures. It focuses on photography and film while at the same time conducting, as Enwezor argues in his catalogue essay, “critical transactions” against “the exactitude of the photographic trace” (11). The term “archive” is thus meant to suggest not the literal image of a dusty... Full Review
April 23, 2008
Lynda Roscoe Hartigan
Exh. cat. Salem, Washington, DC, and New Haven: Peabody Essex Museum and Smithsonian American Art Museum in association with Yale University Press, 2007. 392 pp.; 183 color ills.; 114 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300111620)
Exhibition schedule: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, November 17, 2006–February 19, 2007; Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, April 28–August 19, 2007; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, October 6, 2007–January 6, 2008
I kept the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) title photograph of Joseph Cornell at work as the main wallpaper on my cell phone for over a month. It is a wonderful and unexpected image: a forty-four-year-old Cornell leans over an uncluttered worktable, where the empty shell of a large box and a few art supplies are neatly laid out. The lean frame of the artist forms a silhouette of dark hair and clothing against a white paper backdrop. It looks totally staged—somewhere between a... Full Review
April 22, 2008
Edgar Peters Bowron and Peter Björn Kerber
Exh. cat. New Haven and Houston: Yale University Press in association with Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2008. 240 pp.; 152 color ills. Paper $35.00 (9780890901588)
Exhibition schedule: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, October 21, 2007–January 27, 2008; National Gallery, London, February 20–May 18, 2008
Pompeo Batoni (Lucca 1708–Rome 1787) was one of eighteenth-century Europe’s most famous artists, lionized by popes, princes, and connoisseurs who saw his poetic and technically dazzling art as the acme of Italian painting and wore a path to his studio in one of Rome’s most fashionable districts. That simple fact bears stating, given how far Batoni’s star would sink among later generations; Sir Joshua Reynolds’s prediction that the artist would soon fall into near oblivion seems justified by... Full Review
April 15, 2008
Gary M. Radke, ed.
Exh. cat. Atlanta and New Haven: High Museum of Art Atlanta in association with Yale University Press, 2007. 184 pp.; 269 color ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780300126150)
Exhibition schedule: High Museum of Art, Atlanta, April 28–July 15, 2007; Art Institute of Chicago, July 28–October 13, 2007; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, October 30, 2007–January 13, 2008; Seattle Art Museum, January 26–April 6, 2008
bq. “. . . this slumber of forgetfulness will not last forever. After the darkness has been dispelled, our grandsons will be able to walk back into the pure radiance of the past.” (Petrarch, Africa, IX, 453–7, quoted by Erwin Panofsky, Renaissance and Renascences in Western Art, New York: Westview Press, 1960, 10) Petrarch’s concluding words to his epic poem Africa are equally applicable to Ghiberti studies. Long under the dark shadows of Richard Krautheimer and... Full Review
April 8, 2008
Norma Broude and Mary D. Garrard
Exh. cat. Washington, DC: American University Museum, 2007. 64 pp.; 43 color ills.; 5 b/w ills. Paper $10.00 (1879383659)
Exhibition schedule: American University Museum, Washington, DC, November 6, 2007–January 27, 2008
Claiming Space is a small, carefully curated exhibition with a big heart and ambitious agenda. It makes a compelling argument that feminist artists working in the late sixties into the early eighties had an enormous role in defining and expanding what constitutes feminist culture, and that any history of the period—social, political, cultural, or art historical—is woefully incomplete if these artists are not fully integrated into these stories. The history of this period and the art of... Full Review
March 19, 2008
Jeffrey Spier
Exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Press in association with Kimbell Art Museum, 2007. 328 pp.; 251 color ills.; 52 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300116830)
Exhibition schedule: Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, November 18, 2007–March 30, 2008
Guest-curator Jeffrey Spier’s Picturing the Bible at the Kimbell Art Museum is the first major exhibition of early Christian art in the United States since the Metropolitan Museum’s The Age of Spirituality in 1977. Where that was a vast installation, responding to the panoramic sweep of what had then only barely begun to be called Late Antiquity, Picturing the Bible is compact and select, focused specifically upon the modes of Christian visual expression and asking much... Full Review
March 12, 2008
Constance Lewallen, ed.
Exh. cat. Berkeley: Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive and University of California Press, 2007. 256 pp.; 75 color ills.; 120 b/w ills. Cloth $39.95 (9780520250857)
Exhibition schedule: Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, January 17–April 15, 2007; Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli (Torino), Italy, May 23–September 9, 2007; Menil Collection, Houston, October 12, 2007–January 13, 2008
A Rose Has No Teeth: Bruce Nauman in the 1960s, though occupying only four rooms at the Menil Collection in Houston, is an intense, richly complex and subtly disturbing exhibition. The curator in Houston, Franklin Sirmans, has helped create a fluid, dynamic exhibition space that highlights the extraordinary diversity of Nauman’s production from 1964–69 and establishes key themes and paths of development, while leaving many connections open-ended and available for viewers to pursue for... Full Review
March 4, 2008