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

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Adele Nelson
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2022. 382 pp.; 50 color ills.; 50 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (9780520379848)
Adele Nelson’s new book is a significant contribution to the literature on twentieth-century Brazilian art and culture. Brazil has been central to art historical research in the last two decades, and numerous scholars, both international and Brazilian, have turned their attention to the art produced in the immediate postwar period, a moment when the foundation of the São Paulo Bienal and a surge of museum building transformed the artistic landscape in the country. Nelson’s study is groundbreaking in several ways: it challenges the dominant narrative that the emergence and evolution of abstraction in Brazil was tied primarily to a quest… Full Review
April 14, 2023
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Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, June 3–August 28, 2022
After a searing year of fire and drought along Colorado’s Front Range, the one-person show, Clarissa Tossin: Falling from Earth, opened in June 2022 at Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) for a three-month run. The Brazil-born artist has built a collaborative research-focused practice from her base in Los Angeles that addresses connective tissue that links place, history, and aesthetics. Employing moving images, installation, and sculpture, she explores their alternative narratives in both built and natural environments of extractive economies. Whether reinserting figurative traditions and ritual practices of Mayan motifs in early twentieth-century Los Angeles architecture, as… Full Review
April 3, 2023
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Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA, August 11, 2022–May 7, 2023
Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, PA, October 7, 2022–March 26, 2023
Over the last five years, solo exhibitions of leading Indigenous artists have moved into mainstream museums and galleries. In tandem, these artists’ works are finally appearing in permanent collection galleries in this country as recognition of the important dialogues Native American artists continue to raise for the field, particularly about the legacies of settler colonialism, the impacts of climate change, and the continued fight for Indigenous sovereignty. Artist Rose B. Simpson is part of this critical shift. Her sculptures are now on permanent view across the United States, from the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, to the Autry Museum… Full Review
March 29, 2023
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Dario Donetti and Cara Rachele, eds.
Brepols, 2021. 176 pp.; 60 color ills.; 30 b/w ills. Hardback € 85.00 (9782503591186)
Although architectural drawings were made before the Renaissance, the increasing availability of paper in late fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century Europe had a profound influence on the tools and processes of architectural design. Paper was economical, flexible, portable, and an efficient medium for capturing ideas quickly and for conveying elaborate and complex ideas about masses and volumes in visual terms. But architects did not abandon centuries-old tools overnight, and throughout the Renaissance, drawings continued to be made with a variety of media and for diverse purposes. Generations of modern historians, however, have given primacy to drawings on paper and have studied… Full Review
March 27, 2023
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The Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington and Volunteer Park, Seattle, WA, August 2022—August 2023
Inscribed across the top of a shin-high slab of stone in a shady corner of Seattle’s Volunteer Park are the words: “Set against a series of existing monuments built to honor war, purchase, transport, and forms of expansion we might otherwise call control, finally an opportunity not for waiting, but for repose.” Chloë Bass’s Soft Services, a project commissioned by the Henry Art Gallery and organized by Shamim M. Momim for the new Henry OffSite program, consists of fourteen stone “benches” installed throughout the 48.3 acre, Olmstead-designed park and two more located outside the museum’s entrance. The stones are… Full Review
March 22, 2023
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Antoinette Le Normand-Romain
Exh. cat. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2022. 256 pp.; 210 ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780300264067)
Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, June 18–September 18, 2022; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, October 21, 2022–January 15, 2023
Framed within the elegant glass architecture of Tadao Ando, the towering figure of Balzac (1897) welcomes visitors to the Clark. This first gallery serves as both the introduction and the conclusion to the show which occupies the museum’s dedicated exhibition galleries downstairs. In the background, a cut-out window on a red wall opens onto a large photographic reproduction of the 1954 unveiling of Balzac at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Immersed within MoMA’s posh crowd, visitors are invited to linger in a dedicated reading space and enjoy some historical people watching. The purchase of Rodin’s controversial sculpture… Full Review
March 20, 2023
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Rosario I. Granados, ed.
Exh. cat. Austin: University of Texas Press and Blanton Museum of Art, 2022. 248 pp.; 140 color ills. $45.00 (9781477323977)
Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX, August 14, 2022–January 8, 2023
Setting the stage, deep red curtains mark the entrance to Painted Cloth: Fashion and Ritual in Colonial Latin America. Thoughtfully curated by Rosario I. Granados, the Marilynn Thoma associate curator of the Art of the Spanish Americas, this exhibition highlights the significance of cloth in the Spanish Americas, where it was a marker of social identity and a key facet of religious ritual. The works in the exhibition are predominantly drawn from eighteenth-century Peru and New Spain and span a variety of media, from paintings, sculptures, and prints that include textiles in their subject matter, to material culture related… Full Review
March 17, 2023
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Exh. cat. Columbus, GA, Norfolk, VA, and New Haven, CT: The Columbus Museum and Chrysler Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2021. 336 pp. Cloth $65.00 (9780300258936)
There are enough cities in America named after Christopher Columbus that until I arrived in front of The Columbus Museum and saw the banners for the Alma Thomas exhibition, I was worried that I might have traveled to the wrong one. America’s history of brutality, about which the name Columbus whispers or screams depending on who you are, is so vast that it forever spins off little whorls of cruelty like this—another tributary of brutality passed by, soaked in, so one can get somewhere else. On the walk to the museum in what turned out to be the correct Columbus… Full Review
March 15, 2023
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Aug 23, 2022–January 8, 2023, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA
Writing on the decolonial turn in curatorial practice, curator Ivan Muñiz-Reed asks, “How are curators and art institutions positioned within the colonial matrix, and is it possible for them to restructure knowledge and power—to return agency to those who have lost it?” (Afterall, 2020) A possible response to this provocative question is proposed by Reinventing the Américas: Construct. Erase. Repeat. Organized by Idurre Alonso, this exhibition displays many of the Getty’s collections of European colonial-era engravings, etchings, lithographs, illustrated chronicles, and decorative objects depicting the Americas during the so-called Age of Discovery. The show’s twist is that it seeks… Full Review
March 13, 2023
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Gregor Kalas and Ann van Dijk, eds.
Amsterdam, Netherlands: Amsterdam University Press, 2021. 342 pp.; 40 b/w ills. Cloth € 119.00 (9789462989085)
This volume, featuring nine essays and an extensive introduction by its editors, stems from scholarly discussions hosted by the Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Written by a multidisciplinary group of established scholars affiliated with universities across the United States and Canada, this book attempts to shift the scholarly debate about postclassical Rome from the concepts of decline and renewal to those of continuity, adaptation, reuse, reconstruction, memory, and (creative) resilience—a concept highlighted in the introduction (25–26). In this endeavor, the volume is successful and should be of interest to those engaged with… Full Review
March 1, 2023
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