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

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Richard F. Townsend, ed.
Exh. cat. Art Institute of Chicago in association with Yale University Press, 2004. 288 pp.; 320 color ills.; 120 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0300104677)
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Ill., November 20, 2004–January 30, 2005; Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Mo., March 4–May 30, 2005
Hero, Hawk, and Open Hand: American Indian Art of the Ancient Midwest and South explores a period and a region of indigenous art little known even within the field of Native American art studies. Long studied by archaeologists, this vast area, roughly bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Mississippi River, the Great Lakes, and the Gulf of Mexico, has been largely neglected by art historians and art museums. The only previous large-scale exhibition of material from this region occurred... Full Review
March 18, 2005
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Arthur K. Wheelock
Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art in association with American Federation of Arts, 2003. 172 pp.; 60 color ills.; 40 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0300106394)
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., November 7, 2004–January 30, 2005; Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Mich., February 27–May 22, 2005
Gerard ter Borch is the first exhibition dedicated to this important seventeenth-century Dutch genre painter and portraitist in thirty years, and its accompanying catalogue simultaneously serves as the only comprehensive study on the artist to appear in English to date. The catalogue is smaller than that of the exhibition that took place in The Hague and Münster in 1974, and smaller still than Sturla J. Gudlaugsson’s truly monumental study of Terborch that appeared in 1959–60.... Full Review
March 18, 2005
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Frances Morris
Exh. cat. August Projects, Cornerhouse Publishing in association with Irish Museum of Modern Art, 2002. 120 pp.; 30 color ills.; 40 b/w ills. $22.00 (1902854241)
Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland, November 26, 2003–February 22, 2004; Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland, March 5–May 9, 2004; Centro de Arte Contemporáneo deMalaga, Malaga, Spain, August 8–November 7, 2004; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, Fla., February 12–March 27, 2005
Despite the fact that Louise Bourgeois has been making art for more than seven decades, her drawings, sculptures, and installations are completely contemporary. At the age of ninety-four, she is, according to the exhibition curator Frances Morris, “the oldest of young artists” (10). Organized by Morris, senior curator at the Tate Modern in London, with Brenda McParland, head of exhibitions at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Louise Bourgeois: Stitches in Time is an intimate and engaging... Full Review
March 14, 2005
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Michelle Piranio, ed.
San Diego, Calif.: San Diego Museum of Art, 2004. 184 pp.; 102 color ills.; 28 b/w ills. Paper $35.00 (0937108332)
San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, Calif., November 6, 2004–March 6, 2005; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Mo., June 3–September 4, 2005; Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H., January 15–March 12, 2006
Recent, new, and commissioned works by artists from mainland China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong are showcased in the exhibition Past in Reverse: Contemporary Art of East Asia, organized by the San Diego Museum of Art. The exhibition’s curator, Betti-Sue Hertz, aims to explore how such art references the past. As the idea of the “past” can mean many things, her thematic focus poses an unusual challenge for the viewer who may lack the requisite knowledge of the region known... Full Review
January 26, 2005
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Eugenie Tsai, ed.
Exh. cat. Berkeley: Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in association with University of California Press, 2004. 280 pp.; 240 color ills.; 76 b/w ills. Paper $34.95 (0520244095)
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Calif., September 12–December 13, 2004; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Tex., Jan
Provocatively described by the artist Joan Jonas as a Mannerist, Robert Smithson is certainly best, and sometimes only, remembered for his iconic earthwork pieces, in particular his Spiral Jetty of 1970 (Brian Conley and Joe Amrhein, eds., Collection of Writings on Robert Smithson [New York: Pierogi, 2000], 37). So does this epithet have any merit? The recent retrospective of Smithson’s work at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the first such comprehensive exhibition... Full Review
January 25, 2005
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Joeaneath Spicer
Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 2003. 187 pp.; 80 color ills.; 96 b/w ills. Cloth $39.95 (088884784X)
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, May 23–September 1, 2003; Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, Mass., July 24 –October 17, 2004; Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, New Brunswick, November 21, 2004–February 20, 2005
Dutch and Flemish Drawings from the National Gallery of Canada was produced to celebrate the recent promised gift to the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa of a group of Dutch and Flemish drawings assembled by collectors residing in Toronto.[1] In the exhibition, works from this generous gift have been supplemented with sheets from the National Gallery’s own collection. Ottawa already owns several outstanding drawings from this region, including Gerard David’s small metalpoint copies... Full Review
December 20, 2004
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Helen Molesworth
Exh. cat. University Park and Baltimore: Baltimore Museum of Art in association with Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002. 248 pp.; 114 color ills. $29.95 (0271023341)
Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Md., October 12, 2003–January 4, 2004; Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, Iowa, May 15–August 1, 2004; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio, September 18, 2004–January 2, 2005
The advertising poster for the exhibition Work Ethic includes the text “Artists. Hard at work or hardly working? You decide” above a photograph documenting the Hi Red Center’s Ochanomizu Drop (Dropping Event) of 1964, which consisted of dropping clothes and objects from a rooftop, their retrieval and placement in a suitcase that was subsequently stowed in a public locker, ending with the sending of its key to an individual chosen randomly from the telephone book. At one level,... Full Review
December 20, 2004
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Michael Marlais, John Varriano, and Wendy M. Watson
Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, 2004.
Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, South Hadley, Mass., September 7–December 12, 2004
At the start of the exhibition Valenciennes, Daubigny, and the Origins of French Landscape Painting, visitors are presented with a minor masterpiece by the mid-nineteenth-century French landscape painter Charles-François Daubigny, a remarkably fresh and boldly rendered vision of a modest corner of the French countryside at Optevoz, in the Bas-Dauphiné region of southeastern France. Painted around 1856, The Water’s Edge, Optevoz depicts a local fishing pond, rocky, overgrown, and... Full Review
December 6, 2004
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Lynn Zelevansky, ed.
Exh. cat. Los Angeles County Museum of Art in association with MIT Press, 2004. 240 pp.; 232 b/w ills. Cloth $49.95 (0262240475)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, Calif., June 13–October 3, 2004; Miami Art Museum, Miami, Fla., November 18, 2004–May 1, 2005
Beyond Geometry: Experiments in Form, 1940s–1970s makes modern art’s recent past reflect meaningfully on the present. The word “beyond” in the exhibition’s title promises a look at evidence not covered or hidden by the noun to which it is attached. Although the years from 1940 to 1970 press for breadth, they also situate the exhibition in a specific era with no claims for timeless transcendence. In modern art, form—as separate from content—has a suspenseful, contentious history. During... Full Review
November 15, 2004
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Asia Society Museum, New York, February 4–May 11, 2003; Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, February 25–May 23, 2004; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, July 23–October 10, 2004
Montien Boonma: Temple of the Mind, a traveling exhibition of Buddhist-inspired art by the internationally acclaimed Thai artist, Montien Boonma (1953–2000), leaves the viewer with vivid memories of transforming experiences. Boonma’s art is not marked by iconic images and didactic narratives, but rather expresses more conceptually the tenets and healing aspects of Buddhism. Most of the art in this exhibition dates from the early 1990s to 2000, a period during which Boonma’s wife became... Full Review
November 4, 2004