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

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Elizabeth Hartley, Jane Hawkes, and Martin Henig, eds.
Exh. cat. Aldershot, UK: Lund Humphries in association with York Museums Trust, 2006. 280 pp.; 250 color ills.; 20 b/w ills. Cloth $100.00 (0853319286)
Exhibition schedule: Yorkshire Museum, York, March 31–October 29, 2006
Constantine is the man of the hour. The 1700th anniversary of his ascent into the ruling circle of the Roman Empire, just as the administration of shared authority instituted by Diocletian was about to break apart in civil war, is being celebrated across Europe. Rimini led off in 2005 with an important show and sumptuous catalogue (Angela Donati and Giovanni Gentili, eds., Costantino il Grande: La civiltà antica al bivio tra Occidente e Oriente, Milano: Cinisello Balsamo, 2005). The volume under review here, the catalogue of York’s effort in the fall of 2006, is the second entry in the… Full Review
June 12, 2007
Jonathan Bober, ed.
Exh. cat. Milan: Silvana Editoriale in association with Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin and Palazzo Ducale, 2006. 475 pp.; 140 color ills.; 150 b/w ills. Paper $65.00 (9780977145386)
Exhibition schedule: Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin, September 15, 2006–January 14, 2007; Palazzo Ducale, Genoa, March 3–July 8, 2007
The University of Texas’s spacious new Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, which opened in April 2006, recently mounted an outstanding exhibition devoted to Luca Cambiaso, the leading native-born figure in sixteenth-century Genoese painting. Organized with the Palazzo Ducale Genoa, this first monographic exhibition in fifty years was supported by a beautifully produced catalogue, in English, edited by Jonathan Bober, the show’s chief architect and the Blanton Museum’s curator of prints, drawings, and European paintings. The volume comprises 118 substantial catalogue entries, each accompanied by a superb full-page color plate, preceded by an excellent fortuna critica, an anthology of… Full Review
June 7, 2007
Irene Earls
Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2004. 240 pp.; 15 color ills.; 26 b/w ills. Cloth $59.95 (0313319375)
For some there is a paradox in the fact that Bob Jones University, a Christian-fundamentalist institution that bills itself as the bastion of “old-time religion” based on the absolute authority of the Bible, should be a repository for one of the best collections of Catholic art in the United States. In the words of Henry Hope, who first introduced the university’s museum to the public (“The Bob Jones University Collection of Religious Art,” Art Journal XXV, no. 2 (1965–66): 154–162), the spirit of the collection is “more that of the Counter Reformation than of Martin Luther” (162). In this respect… Full Review
April 26, 2007
Michael Cole, ed.
Exh. cat. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006. 208 pp.; many b/w ills. Cloth (0271029056)
Exhibition schedule: Arthur Ross Gallery, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, April 14–June 11, 2006; John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL, July 1–August 19, 2006; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA, September 2–October 28, 2006
The Early Modern Painter-Etcher, curated by Madeleine Viljoen, Director of the La Salle University Art Museum, and Michael Cole, Associate Professor and Graduate Chair in the Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania, reexamined art-historical categories. Specifically, it looked at the ways in which painters in the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries took up not just any print technique but in particular the technique of etching. The excellent catalogue, with four essays and substantial entries, thoughtfully points out the ways in which etching as a medium was accessible to painters, and the ways in which artists… Full Review
April 25, 2007
Carmen Giménez and Francisco Calvo Seraller
Exh. cat. New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 2006. 446 pp.; 222 color ills. Cloth $75.00 (8496209733)
Exhibition schedule: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, November 17, 2006–March 28, 2007
According to the curators of Spanish Painting from El Greco to Picasso: Time, Truth and History, the dominant themes of Spanish painting can be captured in fifteen categories ranging from art-historical genre (“Bodegones,” or still lifes) to those seemingly made to fit the loans received (“Flyers,” “Landscapes of Fire”). The curators took great—and controversial—license in liberating Spanish painting from the conventions of chronology, school, and patronage that usually provide the foundation for its presentation. However, if the resulting exhibition does not succeed in presenting the masterworks on view in a more memorable way, or in making them somehow more… Full Review
April 25, 2007
Peter C. Sutton
Exh. cat. Yale University Press, 2006. 256 pp.; 110 color ills.; 70 b/w ills. $65.00 (0300119704)
Exhibition schedule: Bruce Museum, Greenwich, CT, December 16, 2006–January 10, 2007; Rijkmuseum, Amsterdam, February 1–April 30, 2007
Of the diverse artistic specialties that developed in the Dutch Republic during the seventeenth century, architectural painting was the last, fully emerging only during the 1650s. Interior and exterior views of major local buildings—real or imagined—along with depictions of the larger built environment of the rapidly growing Dutch cities allowed artists to celebrate national power and prosperity while examining aspects of visual experience also explored in many landscapes and genre paintings of the period: space and the interaction of solids and voids as revealed within varying conditions of natural light. Particular artistic problems are posed, however, by the need to… Full Review
April 19, 2007
Exhibition schedule: Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, MA, September 9–December 10, 2006
Of the myriad exhibitions mounted worldwide to mark the four-hundredth anniversary of Rembrandt’s birth, Rembrandt and the Aesthetics of Technique at Harvard University’s Busch-Reisinger Museum stands out for its serious consideration of the very basis for such celebrations: the category of genius. Ivan Gaskell, Margaret S. Winthrop Curator in the Department of Painting, Sculpture, and Decorative Arts; William Robinson, Maida and George Abrams Curator of Drawings at the Fogg Art Museum; and their assistants deserve praise for resisting the temptation merely to trot out the museum’s Rembrandt holdings, or to organize yet another exhibition fixated on discriminating the hand of… Full Review
April 18, 2007
Camille Morineau, ed.
Exh. cat. Paris: Editions du Centre Pompidou, 2006. 320 pp.; 260 color ills.; 130 b/w ills. Cloth (2844263046)
Exhibition schedule: Centre Pompidou, Paris, October 5, 2006–February 5, 2007; Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna, March 9–June 3, 2007
If large-scale exhibitions are a measure of an artist’s lasting success, then Yves Klein has admittedly fared better than some of his more neglected French peers. This is the third major exhibition of Klein’s work in a Paris museum since his death in 1962, and the second exhibition the Pompidou Center has devoted to the artist. Perhaps best known for his signature International Klein Blue (IKB) two-and-three dimensional works and his Anthropométries (1960–61), paintings resulting from his use of the nude female model as a “human paintbrush,” Klein still remains a contested figure despite the recognition he has received in… Full Review
April 18, 2007
Holly Flora
Exh. cat. New York: The Frick Collection, 2006. 52 pp.; 42 color ills.; 1 b/w ills. $15.95 (001912114339)
Exhibition schedule: Frick Collection, New York, October 3–December 31, 2006
Over the last few years, our knowledge of Tuscan painting in the late duecento has expanded considerably. In Siena, the recent unveiling of frescoes in the crypt of the cathedral has challenged our assumptions about late medieval Italian art. Previously unknown panel paintings have come to light as well, among them a dazzling small panel of the Enthroned Virgin and Child, recently acquired from a private collection by the National Gallery in London, and attributed to Cimabue by the National Gallery’s curator of early Italian art, Dillian Gordon. Gordon went on to associate the new acquisition with the closely related… Full Review
April 17, 2007
Exhibition schedule: September 4–November 12, 2006
What if every new biennale mattered? Take Belief, for instance, the inaugural Singapore effort, which opened in September 2006. Headed by Fumio Nanjo, the new director of Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum, Belief was curated by Nanjo and his three appointees: Roger McDonald, deputy director of Arts Initiative Tokyo; Sharmini Pereira, an independent curator based in London and Sri Lanka, and founder of Raking Leaves publishing; and Eugene Tan, director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore. The show was installed in over sixteen venues across town: from the National Museum to mosques, churches, and temples, from the defunct Tanglin… Full Review
April 12, 2007