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

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The Print Center, Philadelphia, May 12–August 5, 2017
Yoonmi Nam's Still was a simple, direct exhibition: three lithographs, three sculptures, and three Japanese woodblock prints (mokuhanga) displayed a single white room. While the sculptures rested on white perimeter plinths, Nam's lithographs and woodblocks held the walls, delivering spare, nearly diagrammatic flora composed swimmingly on creamy paper. The presentation was elegant and normcore basic, except that the sculptures were facsimiles of throwaways, appearing to be... Full Review
March 20, 2018
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Joanne Pillsbury, Timothy F. Potts, and Kim N. Richter, eds.
Exh. cat. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2017. 311 pp.; 428 color ills. Cloth $59.95 (9781606065488)
J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, Los Angeles, September 16, 2017–January 28, 2018; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, February 27–May 28, 2018
This magnificent exhibition and its corresponding catalogue, Golden Kingdoms: Luxury Arts in the Ancient Americas, are the product of a dedicated four-year research effort that gathered scholars from Latin America and the United States. The exhibition presents approximately three hundred objects that come from fifty-seven museums in thirteen countries. In addition to the prestige of the Getty and the Met, the worldwide recognition of the conscientious scholarship of... Full Review
March 20, 2018
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Larry F. Norman and Anne Leonard, eds.
Chicago: Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, 2017. 184 pp.; 105 color ills. Paperback $30.00 (9780935573572)
Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, February 16–June 11, 2017
“Our task is not to invent but to continue,” Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres reputedly decreed. The sentiment takes vivid expression in his Apotheosis of Homer of 1827, in the Musée du Louvre. The painting features an immobilized assembly of icons—from Plato to Poussin, from Menander to Mozart—at the foot of the Greek bard, worshipful congregants in the church of classicism. Equating artistic greatness with subservience to ancient precedents, the work advances a vision of classicism... Full Review
March 20, 2018
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Caroline O. Fowler
Studies in Baroque Art (Book 6). Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2017. 178 pp.; 119 color ills. Hardcover €70.00 (9781909400399)
In Drawing and the Senses: An Early Modern History, Caroline Fowler investigates how the printed drawing manual of the early modern period marked an important shift in European artistic pedagogy, not only by making drawing lessons available to a larger audience through the medium of print but by proposing a new course of study that centered upon the representation of the human sensory organs. Thus a page from a 1608 drawing manual by Odoardo Fialetti demonstrated how an artist could... Full Review
March 19, 2018
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Zeynep Çelik
Middle Eastern Studies: Art and Architecture. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2016. 282 pp.; 12 color ills.; 89 b/w ills. Paperback $27.95 (9781477310618)
Who owns antiquity? Opening with this deceptively simple question, Zeynep Çelik introduces the core project of her complex and wide-ranging book: to investigate the question from the origins of archaeology as an academic discipline in the nineteenth century. A historical perspective on this question then informs its continued invocation in current international debates regarding ownership of antiquities. More than merely passive witnesses of past human achievement or... Full Review
March 19, 2018
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In June 2008, The Rossetti Archive “closed,” although the site remains accessible. What can a “closed” site reveal to scholars today? Much. As digital scholarship gains purchase in the field of art history, we should learn from pioneering projects such as The Rossetti Archive. Edited by literary scholar Jerome McGann, the archive began in 1993 at the moment of public access to the worldwide web and when McGann’s home... Full Review
March 19, 2018
Christopher Reed
Modernist Latitudes. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016. 440 pp.; 126 b/w ills. Paperback $35.00 (9780231175753)
From its first pages, Bachelor Japanists: Japanese Aesthetics and Western Masculinities asserts itself as a sophisticated, well-written, insightful, and important contribution to masculinity studies and studies of japonisme and East-West exchange. Christopher Reed guides his reader through a variety of spaces and times, including an examination of the Goncourt brothers and other japonistes in Paris in the late nineteenth century, Ernest Fenollosa and the circle of collectors... Full Review
March 16, 2018
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Ana Clara Silva and Eugenio Valdés Figueroa, eds.
Exh. cat. Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2017. 404 pp.; 250 ills. $95.00 (9780692820735)
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, March 5–May 21, 2017; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, November 11, 2017–March 18, 2018
A series of international flags stripped of their color by Wilfredo Prieto framed the entrance to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston’s presentation of Adiós Utopia: Dreams and Deceptions in Cuban Art Since 1950. Titled Apolítico (Apolitical, 2001), Prieto’s gray-scale flags guarded the balcony of the second-floor gallery where the exhibition was on view, as if demarcating neutral ground for the oft-contested field of Cuban art. Visible just beyond Prieto’s... Full Review
March 16, 2018
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Lesley Harding and Denise Mimmocchi, eds.
Sydney and Bulleen: Art Gallery of New South Wales in association with Heide Museum of Modern Art, 2017. 216 pp. Cloth $45.00 (9781921330537)
Heide Museum of Modern Art, October 12, 2016–February 19, 2017; Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, March 11–June 11, 2017; Art Gallery of New South Wales, July 1–October 2, 2017.
O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism brought together the American Georgia O’Keeffe and two Australians: Margaret Preston and Grace Cossington Smith. Setting each artist’s work in its own tightly hung space, the curators (and there were many) presented an enticingly simple premise. In unison they stated: Here are three significant Modernists. Their work revealed to us rich similarities in ambition and productive differences in context and technique. Do you see them,... Full Review
March 15, 2018
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Noriko Aso
Asia-Pacific: Culture, Politics, and Society. Durham: Duke University Press Books, 2013. 320 pp.; 33 ills. Paper $27.95 (9780822354291)
The obvious characteristics that distinguished Japan’s modern museums from older indigenous practices are permanent space, comprehensive collections, and a viewing public. While the pivotal research on the state-centric practice of “show and tell” has been conducted by scholars such as Satō Dōshin, Christine Guth, and Alice Tseng, Noriko Aso focuses on the discursive formation of museum-going publics within broader developments of exhibiting institutions. Tellingly, she opens the book with... Full Review
March 15, 2018
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