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

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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 these objects were produced. Furthermore, both exhibitions were accompanied by well-written and lavishly illustrated catalogues that supported the agendas behind the selection of… 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 in recent years, and several works appear for the first time after their return from the conservator’s lab. The… Full Review
November 15, 2006
Jonathan Brown and Susan Grace Galassi
Exh. cat. The Frick Collection and Yale University Press, 2006. 224 pp.; 120 color ills.; 30 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0300117671)
Frick Collection, New York, February 22–May 14, 2006
In a letter to his son Javier, written on Christmas Eve 1824, Francisco Goya mused, “Maybe I shall live to be 99 years of age, like Titian.” As it turned out, Goya would die slightly more than three years later at the age of 82, after four years of self-imposed exile in Bordeaux. But as Goya’s Last Works amply demonstrated, during these final years he created remarkable works of art in a range of genres and media that signal both continuity and change at the end of his long career. This was the third exhibition the Frick… Full Review
November 14, 2006
Claire Stoullig and Félicité Isabelle Bleeke
Trans Charles Penwarden and Toby Alleyne-Gee; intro Anne Poulet Paris: Somogy Éditions d’Art, 2006. 119 pp.; many color ills. Cloth
The Frick Collection, New York, NY, June 13–September 17, 2006
Amid the symphonic blockbusters regularly staged in the large museums of New York City, the special exhibitions mounted at the Frick Collection in three quiet, elegant rooms on the lower level of the museum offer visitors a welcome dose of chamber music. Striking in this regard was the summertime exhibition of works by the eighteenth-century Genevan artist Jean-Étienne Liotard, whose spare but penetrating portraits, character studies, and still lifes filled the Frick’s small space with a Mozartian blend of lightness and piercing exactitude. Liotard is perhaps best known today for his pastel figures redolent of genre painting, such as La… Full Review
October 25, 2006
Jodi Hauptman
Exh. cat. Museum of Modern Art, 2005. 256 pp.; 142 color ills.; 160 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0870707027)
Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 30, 2005–January 23, 2006
The Museum of Modern Art’s Odilon Redon show was a quiet triumph. In addition to a much-needed and long-overdue consideration of a major figure within the history of French Symbolism, this intimate exhibition provided a welcome respite from the mall-like spaces of the rest of MoMA’s cavernous emporium of modern art The exhibition was made possible by the Ian Woodner Family Collection donation in 2000 of more than one hundred Redon works on paper and canvas, and its breadth reveals Ian Woodner’s deep commitment to Redon’s work, from the artist’s drawings and charcoal noirs to his illustrated books and later… Full Review
October 10, 2006
Xavier F. Salomon
The Frick Collection, 2006. 56 pp.; 32 color ills.; 2 b/w ills. Paper (0912114312)
Frick Collection, New York City, April 11–July 16, 2006
Paolo Veronese is in the news these days, enjoying the spotlight in two recent monographic exhibitions. Last year’s Veronese: Gods, Heroes, and Allegories, the Museo Correr in Venice, treated a wide array of the artist’s mythological works. Now, Veronese’s Allegories: Virtue, Love, and Exploration in Renaissance Venice at the Frick Collection, a more focused exhibit curated by Xavier Salomon, gathers together all five of the large allegorical canvases by the artist that have come to rest on US soil. These shows mark something of a renaissance for Veronese, which complements the current profusion of exhibits on Venetian topics: from… Full Review
August 2, 2006
Mark Coatzee and Laura Edward Heon
Miami and North Adams: MASS MoCA, 2006. 143 pp.; 27 color ills.; 84 b/w ills. Cloth (0971634149)
MASS MoCA, March 19, 2005–March 31, 2006; SITE Santa Fe, April 21–June 19, 2006; Katzen Art Center, American University, Washington DC, September 5–October 29, 2006; Frye Art Museum, Seattle, February 16–June 3, 2007; Salt Lake Art Center, Salt Lake City, June 23–September 30, 2007
Leipzig is the new Berlin—at least that is what I have been told. Rents are still what Berlin rents used to be, after reunification but before the government arrived. Many artists have already moved their Berlin or Cologne studios to Leipzig. It is like Prenzlauer Berg or Friedrichshain circa 1995, a combination of advanced, though scenic, urban decay pierced through with startling additions like high-tech (West) German mass transit or gleaming new bakeries and department stores. There is a developed Leipzig scene—the spreading waves of (West German-style) gentrification that includes clubs, restaurants, and of course, art galleries Another sign of… Full Review
August 1, 2006
Exhibition schedule: Istanbul, Turkey, September 16–October 30, 2005
The 9th International Istanbul Biennial, distributed across seven sites (Deniz Palace Apartments, Garanti Building, Antrepo No. 5, Tobacco Warehouse, Bilsar Building, Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center, and the Garibaldi Building) used the city of Istanbul as not only its host but its principal theme. Visitors walked to and from each site, guided by the Italian Gruppo A12’s fuchsia paint on the venues’ façades and windows, occasionally getting lost in the streets of the Beyoğlu district. Rather than finding such wanderings a burden, visitors enjoyed the treats and surprises wherein they were routinely rewarded with the discovery of buildings that would… Full Review
July 25, 2006
Exhibition Schedule: Tate Britain, London, February 4–May 7, 2006
With In Search of Perfect Harmony, a recent exhibition in the Art Now cycle at Tate Britain, British artist Jamie Shovlin cements his recent work’s affinity to what Hal Foster has described as the “archival impulse” prevalent in contemporary artistic production. The three works that comprised Shovlin’s exhibition all take root in the kind of idiosyncratic probing into a history, philosophy, or experience that Foster sees as the foundation of the “archival impulse.” While Foster’s descriptive moniker for this kind of work reminds us that such gestures have already become common practice in contemporary art, Shovlin’s… Full Review
July 19, 2006
Orange County Museum, June 4–October 2, 2005; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, December 4–February 26, 2006; Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, March 15–June 4, 2006
Comprised of one wonderful work after another, Villa America: American Modern, 1900–1950 makes a strong impression. Beyond presenting many excellent works, the exhibition illuminates the visual dialogue concerning style and theme undertaken between and among U.S. artists during the first half of the twentieth century, a particularly exciting period in U.S. art history. With its illuminating juxtapositions of works and its many self-portraits, Villa America brings to life the excitement and energy that percolated within the U.S. art world during this now rather distant era. The exhibition presents for the first time selections from the private collection of Myron Kunin… Full Review
June 28, 2006