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

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Paul Berry and Michiyo Morioka
Exh. cat. Honolulu and Seattle: Honolulu Academy of Arts in association with University of Washington Press, 2008. 368 pp.; 150 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780937426845)
Exhibition schedule: Honolulu: Honolulu Academy of Arts, September 11–November 16, 2008

Symposium: September 13, 2008
Visually stunning and intellectually riveting, the exhibition Literati Modern: Bunjinga from Late Edo to Twentieth-Century Japan presented the Honolulu Academy of Arts's newly acquired Terry Welch Collection of over eighty Japanese ceramics, calligraphy, and paintings (in handscroll, hanging scroll, album, and both two- and six-panel screen formats) from late Edo through Showa periods (the late eighteenth through the twentieth centuries). It demonstrated the claim—made by guest curator... Full Review
November 19, 2008
Annamaria Giusti and Wolfram Koeppe, eds.
Exh. cat. New York and New Haven: Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2008. 428 pp.; 272 color ills.; 35 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300136722)
Exhibition schedule: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, July 1–September 21, 2008
Visitors to the Metropolitan Museum of Art recently had the rare opportunity to see a survey of hardstone carving in Europe, an art form best known by its Italian shorthand term, pietre dure. By assembling some of the best-known works and a great variety of objects in terms of technique, origin, and appearance, the exhibition was well worth seeing, if not always consistent in the strength and coherence of its presentation. The introductory gallery of the show, as well as the first... Full Review
October 29, 2008
Min-han Jang
Seoul: Seoul Museum of Art, 2008. 204 pp.; 105 color ills. Paper $10.00
Exhibition schedule: Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul, March 28–June 15, 2008
As signaled by the exhibition’s subtitle, “Art of Our Time Viewed from Various Narratives,” Four Ways to Look at Art explores the possibility of opening up vastly different narratives in addressing art after the end of art. The show addresses the convention of the great narrative ingrained within the modernist aesthetic that has led to the suppression of individual stories. Resisting a priori aesthetic rules, it investigates ways in which contemporary art deals with its identity... Full Review
October 28, 2008
John Oliver Hand, Catherine A. Metzger, and Ron Spronk
Exh. cat. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2006. 352 pp.; 238 color ills.; 90 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300121551)
Exhibition schedule: National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, November 12, 2006–February 4, 2007; Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp, March 3, 2007–May 27, 2007
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, November 12, 2006–February 4, 2007; Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp, March 3, 2007–May 27, 2007
The painted diptych, a work comprised of two hinged panels of equal size that can be opened and closed like a book, flourished as a Netherlandish art form from 1430 to the mid-sixteenth century. Leading artists such as Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, and Hans Memling used this format for some of the most compelling paintings of the period, and it enjoyed popularity for both religious and secular subjects. The splendid exhibition Prayers and Portraits: Unfolding the Netherlandish... Full Review
October 2, 2008
Charles Davis and Beatrice Paolozzi Strozzi
Exh. cat. Florence: Giunti, 2008. 406 pp.; many color ills.; many b/w ills. Cloth Euros 45.00 (9788809059023)
Exhibition schedule: Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence, April 16–September 7, 2008
Although most of his works normally reside in Florentine museums and his role as a proponent of the maniera in sculpture is well-known, Vincenzo Danti (1530–76) is finally being feted with an exhibition of his own. On view at the Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence through September 7, I grandi bronzi del Battistero: L’arte di Vincenzo Danti, discepolo di Michelangelo is the schizophrenic title for what is essentially a monographic show on the career of the artist. Its... Full Review
August 20, 2008
Elizabeth Carpenter, ed.
Exh. cat. Minneapolis: 2007. 320 pp.; many color ills.; many b/w ills. Cloth $49.95 (9780935640885)
Exhibition schedule: Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, October 27, 2007–January 20, 2008; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, February 20–May 18, 2008; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, June 14–September 16, 2008
The current, straightforwardly titled Frida Kahlo retrospective, organized by the Walker Art Center and traveling to Philadelphia and San Francisco, follows two unrelated but identically titled surveys of the same artist—one organized by the Tate Modern (2005) and another, more hastily put together, at the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City (2007), each with unique, well-illustrated catalogues. While the shows in Mexico and the United States were explicitly tied to the... Full Review
August 20, 2008
Robert Conway
Exh. cat. Washington, DC and Boston: Trust for Museum Exhibitions in association with Boston Public Library, 2007. 159 pp.; 73 b/w ills. Paper $35.00 (9781882507177)
Exhibition schedule: Frick Art and Historical Center, Pittsburgh, April 21–June 17, 2007; Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus; July 12–September 23, 2007; Mennello Museum of American Art, Orlando; October 11–December 23, 2007; Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee; January 10–March 23, 2008; Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME; April 10–June 1, 2008; San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, June 21–August 31, 2008; Boston Public Library, Boston, September 22–December 1, 2008
Enthusiasts of early twentieth-century American art have long recognized George Bellows’s facility for powerful draftsmanship, yet his energetic, even boisterous, paintings and lithographs remain appreciably better known than his drawings. The artist made hundreds of original works on paper, largely black and white, now hidden in museums and private collections across the country. Their broad dispersal may account, in part, for the limited scholarly attention paid this fascinating aspect of... Full Review
August 13, 2008
Roberta Panzanelli, ed.
Exh. cat. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2008. 200 pp.; 166 color ills.; 10 b/w ills. Paper $49.95 (9780892369181)
Exhibition schedule: J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, March 6–June 23, 2008
First, a disclaimer. Throughout my art-history education, which began in the 1960s and was probably typical, pre-twentieth-century sculpture was evaluated much as it had been since the Renaissance, which is to say in formal terms, the purity of its planes and contours competing with painting’s reliance on surface and color. I came to know, at least intellectually, that perceptions and judgments are indelibly affected by the conventions and values of our time, and assumed that, in the... Full Review
August 13, 2008
Sarah D. Coffin, Gail S. Davidson, Penelope Hunter-Stiebel, and Ellen Lupton
Exh. cat. New York: Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and Assouline, 2008. 272 pp.; 380+ color ills. Paper $45.00 (9780910503914)
Exhibition schedule: Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York, March 7–July 6, 2008
The curators of Rococo: The Continuing Curve, 1730–2008 have gathered an impressive collection of well-known objects from Europe and the United States to showcase the curving beauty of the eighteenth-century Rococo and of later designs with similarly sinuous lines. The show was mounted by members of the Cooper-Hewitt curatorial staff, including Sarah Coffin, Gail Davidson, and Ellen Lupton, with Penelope Hunter-Stiebel as a guest curator. The focus is on the formal elements of the... Full Review
August 6, 2008
Felice Fischer and Kyoko Kinoshita
Exh. cat. Philadelphia and New Haven: Philadelphia Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2007. 504 pp.; 461 color ills.; 26 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (9780300122183)
Exhibition schedule: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, May 1–July 22, 2007
Only seven years after their resplendent pioneering exhibition and catalogue on the seventeenth-century Japanese artist Hon'ami Kōetsu (1558–1637), Felice Fischer, Kyoko Kinoshita, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art produced an even more magnificent catalogue and exhibition on the artists Ike (also known as Ikeno and Ike no) Taiga (1723–76) and Tokuyama Gyokuran (1727/28–1784). Like Kōetsu, who was himself a calligrapher, potter, and lacquer-ware artist, Gyokuran and her husband Taiga were... Full Review
August 5, 2008