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

Browse Recent Exhibition Reviews

Exhibition schedule: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, January 27–December 31, 2006
It is unusual but probably auspicious for an exhibition to last from January to December, as Tradition and Transformation: Japanese Art 1860–1940 does. Presenting visually compelling images and well-documented histories, the exhibition offers a revealing glimpse into the formative decades of Japan’s emergence as a modernizing nation. The Museum of Fine Arts’ collecting of Japanese art can be traced back to the late nineteenth century, and is deeply indebted to the insight and... Full Review
January 30, 2007
Sponsored by Creative Time. Exhibition schedule: 529 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, October 1–December 10, 2006

Chicago-based artist Michael Rakowitz navigates the unstable border between art and life. Among his well-known interventions are the ongoing paraSITE series in which he collaborates with urban homeless to design portable housing shelters that can be hooked up to a building’s exterior ventilation system (a working example was included in MoMA’s 2005 exhibition Safe: Design Takes on Risk) and 2001’s Rise, in which Rakowitz extended a duct from a nearby Chinese bakery into... Full Review
January 29, 2007
Exhibition schedule: Norwich Gallery, Norwich School of Art and Design, Norwich, England, July 8–August 9, 2006
EAST International, the open-submission exhibition that takes place annually in and around Norwich School of Art and Design, displayed its well-earned self-confidence in 2006, when programming material boasted that, “The trust of artists in the democratic structure of an open exhibition has enabled EAST to become an annual challenge to the expertise of the contemporary art establishment. Not a bad achievement for a small art school gallery in a provincial city.” Perhaps to find... Full Review
January 25, 2007
Bruno Chenique and Sylvie Ramond, eds.
Exh. cat. Paris: Éditions Hazan, 2007. 240 pp.; 173 color ills.; 38 b/w ills. Paper €35.00 (2754100989)
Exhibition schedule: Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, Lyon, April 21–July 31, 2006
Wall texts and labels in museum exhibitions, often written in bland and impersonal prose, tend to obscure the voice of the curator. The exhibition Géricault: La Folie d’un Monde provides a glorious exception to the rule. Bruno Chenique, an independent scholar and author of numerous publications about Théodore Géricault, develops his thesis not only in the exhibition’s catalogue (which is often the venue reserved for more theoretical art history in the present museum climate) but also,... Full Review
January 24, 2007
Thomas Crow, Branden W. Joseph, Paul Schimmel, and Charles Stuckey
Exh. cat. Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2005. 317 pp.; 170 color ills.; 30 b/w ills. Paper $45.00 (0914357921)
Exhibition schedule: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, December 20, 2005–April 2, 2006; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, May 21–September 11, 2006; Musée national d’arte moderne, Center Georges Pompidou, Paris, October 25, 2006–January 21, 2007; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, February 17–May 6, 2007
One of the first objects encountered upon entering Robert Rauschenberg: Combines at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles was Satellite (1955). This modestly scaled Combine is composed of a sundry collection of materials including a pair of dirty cream-colored socks, two dainty discolored doilies, a strip of worn paisley sheet, sections of cardboard, paint-soaked comic strip broadsheets, and dripping, sensual passages of red, yellow, white, and blue oil paint. This mess... Full Review
January 18, 2007
Macau Museum of Art
Exh. cat. Macau: Macau Museum of Art, 2006. 422 pp.; 300 color ills. MOP 750.00 (9993754943)
Exhibition schedule: Macau Museum of Art, Macau, August 9–November 19, 2006
The Palace Museum, Beijing, the Shanghai Museum, and the Macau Museum of Art have collaborated again to produce a compelling exhibition. The present show follows earlier exhibits on Ba Da Shan Ren with Shi Tao (2004) and one dedicated solely to Dong Qichang (2005). The Macau Museum of Art is one of the premiere locations for exhibitions of art in south China and is the only museum devoted to art in Macau. The present show is under the direction of Chan Hou Seng, the museum’s curator of... Full Review
January 11, 2007
Charles Beddington
Exh. cat. New Haven and London: Yale Center for British Art and Dulwich Picture Gallery, 2006. 220 pp.; 120 color ills.; 30 b/w ills. Paper $25.00 (0300119690)
Exhibition schedule: Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, October 19–December 31, 2006; Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, January 24–April 15, 2007
Visitors entering Canaletto in England at the Yale Center for British Art are confronted with two large canvases reunited for the first time in a century: a 1745–46 view of the Molo in Venice on Ascension Day (cat. 54, presumably painted in Venice), and a view of the Thames below Westminster on Lord Mayor’s Day a year or so later (cat. 23, painted in London). It is an instructive comparison that sets up the themes of style, subject matter, and patronage explored by this exhibition. The... Full Review
January 2, 2007
Gwangju Biennale Foundation
Exh. cat. Seoul: Designhouse Co. in association with Gwangju Biennale Foundation, 2006. 650 pp.; many color ills.; many b/w ills. Paper won 25.00 (8970419373)
Exhibition Schedule: Designhouse Co. and Gwanju Biennale Foundation, 2006. Biennale Exhibition Hall, Jungoei Park, Gwangju, Korea, September 8–November 11, 2006
A sense of curatorial rigor pervaded many of the compact exhibition spaces of this year’s biennale in Gwangju, a major city in southern Korea known for its rich cultural past and for the May 1980 democratic movement. For its sixth installment, this leading art biennale in East Asia adopted a self-conscious mode of re-examining its raison d’être and selected as its main theme an idea that had in fact existed all along: Asia. Such an inquiry was timely, as the stake to distinguish oneself from... Full Review
December 14, 2006
George Saliba and Linda Komaroff
Ed. Catherine Hess. Getty Trust Publications, 2004. 184 pp.; 61 color ills.; 17 b/w ills. Paper $39.95 (089236758X)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC: July 18, 2004–February 6, 2005; Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth: April 3, 2005–September 4, 2005; Setagaya Art Museum, Tokyo: October 22, 2005–December 11, 2005; Millennium Galleries, Sheffield: January 14, 2006–April 16, 2006
The past three years have provided an opportunity to see two exquisite and thought-provoking exhibitions of Islamic art and the art that influenced or responded to the brilliant creations of Islamic artists. These exhibitions, The Arts of Fire and Palace and Mosque, offered visitors a rare opportunity to see a wide variety of luxury items in an exhibition context designed to educate viewers about the formal characteristics of Islamic art and the dynamic environment in which... Full Review
November 15, 2006
David Alan Brown and Sylvia Ferino-Pagden
National Gallery of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2006. 352 pp.; 162 color ills.; 31 b/w ills. Cloth (0300116772)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, June 18–September 17, 2006; Kunsthistoriches Museum Wein, Vienna, October 17, 2006–January 7, 2007
The National Gallery’s beautifully installed exhibition of Venetian painting from the first three decades of the Cinquecento has now come down, though it is soon to reappear—with a few works replaced by others of equal magnitude—at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. In both Washington and Vienna the show is comprised of fifty-one paintings, of which at least a third could be described as famous masterworks from one of the richest eras of European art. Many of the works have been cleaned... Full Review
November 15, 2006