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: Ooga Booga, Los Angeles, March 7–April 3, 2008
A curtain of clear plastic sleeves hangs in the shop window that serves as the façade to Ooga Booga’s main space. Inside each transparent pocket rests a simple, photocopied, and staple-bound book available for visitors to touch and flip through. In this modest exhibition of zines and artists’ books, the manner of installation complements the temperament of the work on view. Everything is straightforward and accessible. Ooga Booga, an alternative space in Los Angeles’s Chinatown District,... Full Review
July 16, 2008
Sylvia Ferino-Pagden and Giovanna Nepi Sciré
Exh. cat. Venice: Marsilio, 2008. 336 pp.; many color ills.; many b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9788831794121)
Exhibition schedule: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, October 18, 2007–January 6, 2008; Accademia, Venice, January 26–May 4, 2008
Curated by Silvia Ferino-Pagden and Giovanna Nepi Sciré, the exhibition of late paintings by Titian initiated at the Kunsthistorisches Museum and continued with variations at the Accademia was rich in materials from which to learn more about the great Venetian artist. While the Venetian venue showed only twenty-eight paintings, these offered much upon which to meditate. Occupying a space that was once the church of the Carità, and typically used at the Accademia for temporary shows, the... Full Review
July 15, 2008
Joseph J. Rishel
Exh. cat. Philadelphia and New Haven: Philadelphia Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2006. 592 pp.; 431 color ills.; 45 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0300120036)
Exhibition schedule: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, The Arts in Latin America, 1492–1820, banner-titled “Tesoros/Treasures/Tesouros,” September 20–December 31, 2006; Colegio de San Ildefonso, Mexico City, Revelaciones, subtitled Las Artes in América Latina, 1492–1820, February 6–June 30, 2007; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, The Arts in Latin America, 1492–1820, August 1–October 28, 2007
The Arts in Latin America, 1492–1820 was a splendid exhibition covering the period from the time Columbus arrived until the moment when emerging nations from Chile to Mexico moved toward independence. Showing it in three dramatically different venues—Philadelphia, Mexico City, and Los Angeles—resulted in three profoundly different statements. In Philadelphia one simply gasped to see such luxury from so many fabulously wealthy colonies (mostly Spanish and Portuguese). When visitors... Full Review
June 17, 2008
Sébastien Allard, Robert Rosenblum, Guilhem Scherf, and MaryAnne Stevens
Exh. cat. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2007. 432 pp.; 260 ills. Cloth $85.00 (9781903973233)
Exhibition schedule: Royal Academy of Arts, London, February 3–April 20, 2007
Sébastien Allard, Robert Rosenblum, Guilhem Scherf, and MaryAnne Stevens
Exh. cat. Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 2006. 383 pp.; 220 color ills.; 19 b/w ills. Paper Euros 45.00 (2711850315)
Exhibition schedule: Grand Palais, Paris, October 2, 2006–January 9, 2007
Citizens and Kings: Portraits in the Age of Revolution, 1760–1830 is the companion publication to the best and most comprehensive exhibition of portraits, and indeed of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century European art, not to have come to the United States in a long time. The show, conceived by the late Robert Rosenblum and MaryAnne Stevens, was originally intended to travel to the Guggenheim Museum in New York in addition to the Grand Palais in Paris and the Royal... Full Review
June 11, 2008
Nathalie Bondil, ed.
Exh. cat. New York: Prestel, 2008. 424 pp.; 400 color ills.; 200 b/w ills. Cloth $85.00 (9783791340197)
Exhibition schedule: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, January 31–June 8, 2008
In the spring of 1944 the Museum of Modern Art in New York opened the exhibition Modern Cuban Painters; it was the first time that modern Cuban art was presented in the international arena. Organized by Alfred H. Barr, Jr., with assistance from the Cuban art critic José Gómez Sicre, the exhibition was a success with the public as well as the critics. Although limited to the work of only thirteen painters, Modern Cuban Painters remains a seminal moment in the history of Cuban... Full Review
May 21, 2008
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