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

Browse Recent Exhibition Reviews

Peter C. Sutton, Marjorie Wieseman, and Nico Van Hout
Exh. cat. Greenwich, Conn.: Yale University Press in association with Bruce Museum of Arts and Sciences, 2004. 208 pp.; 60 color ills.; 40 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0300106262)
Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Conn., October 2–January 30, 2005; Berkeley Art Museum, March 2–May 22, 2005; Cincinnati Art Museum, June 11–September 11, 2005
It is a testimony to the esteem in which Peter Sutton and Marjorie Wieseman are held in the art world that they were able to find enough oil sketches by Peter Paul Rubens for an exhibition in the United States in 2004—the most competitive “Rubens” year in recent memory. Drawn by the Brush: Oil Sketches by Peter Paul Rubens is the first exhibition dedicated solely to Rubens’s oil sketches since the one Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann organized in Rotterdam in 1953–54. Although originally... Full Review
November 8, 2005
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Donna De Salvo, ed.
Tate Publishing, 2005. 192 pp.; 60 color ills.; 50 b/w ills. Paper (1854375652)
June 1–August 29, 2005
It would appear that Jack Burnham’s 1968 claim that “a ‘systems esthetic’ will become the dominant approach to a maze of socio-technical conditions rooted only in the present” was accurately visionary. In Open Systems: Rethinking Art c. 1970, curator Donna De Salvo has put this concept of a “system” to work as an organizing principle around which to understand anew significant trends in art produced during the years bracketing 1970. The choice was a good one on two counts.... Full Review
November 7, 2005
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Kerry Brougher
Exh. cat. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution in association with Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2005. 272 pp.; 344 color ills.; 32 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (0500512175)
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Calif., February 13–May 22, 2005; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., June 23–September 11, 2005
One thought-provoking passage from the introductory wall panel at the entrance to Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art’s recent exhibition, Visual Music: Synaesthesia in Art and Music Since 1900, read as follows: “Music offered a model to which art might aspire: an art based on a language of abstract form that evokes limitless space and evolving time, in short, ‘visual music.’” This brief passage makes some challenging and complex claims for the broad category of visual art as it... Full Review
November 3, 2005
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Arthur K. Wheelock Jr.
Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art in association with University of Chicago Press, 2005. 150 pp.; 40 color ills.; 30 b/w ills. $40.00 (0226894436)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., January 30–May 1, 2005; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Calif., June 7–August 28, 2005
In the 1600s, a convert from Roman Catholicism to the new Protestant faith might have felt disconcertingly bereft of the supportive community of saints in whose company she or he was accustomed to encountering the divine. For women, one of the greatest challenges must have been the loss of the Virgin Mary as empathetic listener and spiritual guide. Yet Martin Luther sternly condemned belief in the intercession of saints as a reliance on works rather than faith to procure salvation, and John... Full Review
October 27, 2005
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Francesco Bonami, Regis Durand, and Francois Quintin
Thames and Hudson, 2001. 112 pp.; 42 color ills. Cloth $29.95 (0500974950)
Museum of Modern Art, New York, March 4–May 30, 2005
The construction of historical memory has been a critical issue for photography since the medium’s emergence as a method of mass reproduction and dissemination. German photographer Thomas Demand’s work addresses the question of veracity that remains at the heart of photography’s role in shaping the representation and understanding of history. His work interrogates this concern through a two-stage process that transforms politically charged subject matter from appropriated mass-produced... Full Review
October 26, 2005
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Dawn Ades, ed.
Exh. cat. Philadelphia: Rizzoli in association with Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2004. 560 pp.; 500 ills. (0847826732)
Palazzo Grassi, Venice, September 12, 2004–January 16, 2005; Philadelphia Museum of Art, February 16–May 30, 2005
The centennial exhibition of the works of Salvador Dalí (1904–1989) at the Philadelphia Museum of Art was a signal event for those interested in the past century of intimate relations between the visual arts and psychoanalysis. In The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí (New York: Dial Press, 1942; 17–18), the painter reports that during their first meeting he and Jacques Lacan (1901–1981) were astonished at the congruence of their views on the primacy of paranoia as a form of active... Full Review
October 18, 2005
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Gauvin Alexander Bailey, Pamela M. Jones, Franco Mormando, and Thomas W. Worcester, eds.
Exh. cat. Worcester, Mass.: Worcester Art Museum, 2004. 272 pp.; 38 color ills.; 71 b/w ills. $39.95 (0936042052)
Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Mass., April 3–September 25, 2005
The title Hope and Healing: Painting in Italy in a time of Plague, 1500–1800 does not adequately prepare the viewer for the beauty, substance, and intelligence of the exhibition. Visitors will, of course, be confronted with the grim reality of plague. They will also be dazzled by the depth of scholarship embodied in the well-chosen images, which suggest unmistakable parallels between an era dominated by fear of pestilence and our own twenty-first-century world. The exhibition’s... Full Review
July 6, 2005
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Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, Tenn., April 22–August 7, 2005
SubUrban: Tam Van Tran features the paintings and “sculptural drawings” of Tam Van Tran, a Vietnamese-born, Los Angeles–based artist who combines organic substances such as chlorophyll, spirulina algae, and beet juice with acrylic paint, canvas, paper, Wite-out liquid, foil, and metal staples. The exhibition is the latest in the Knoxville Museum of Art’s ongoing program, the SubUrban series, which serves as the first solo museum show and catalogue in the United States for emerging... Full Review
July 1, 2005
Evelyn Benesch
Vienna: BA-CA Kunstforum in association with Fondation Beyeler, 2004. 204 pp.; 111 color ills.; 24 b/w ills. Paper $30.00
BA-CA Kunstforum, Vienna, April 6–July 24, 2005; Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, August 7–November 25, 2005
René Magritte’s art has attracted much attention in the past few years. Following 1999’s Magritte in Edinburgh, Scotland, and Humlebaek, Denmark, and the monumental exhibition in the Jeu de Paume in Paris in 2003, a new series of Magritte exhibitions attempts to place the Belgian artist into the spotlight of public interest, responding to new developments in art theory and to new ways of thinking about Surrealism. René Magritte: Der Schlüssel der Träume (The Key of... Full Review
June 29, 2005
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John J. Herrmann
Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2003. 215 pp.; 207 color ills.; 10 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (0878466819)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Mass., July 21–November 28, 2004
A strong interest in the ancient Olympics on the part of both scholars and the general public has led several museums abroad to mount exhibitions exploring the artistic and archaeological evidence for Greek sports. The return of the Olympics to Greece in summer 2004 provided the impetus for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), to present Games for the Gods: The Greek Athlete and the Olympic Spirit, the first exhibition in the United States to rival shows such as Mind and Body:... Full Review
June 21, 2005
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