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

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A. A. Rub, ed.
Exh. cat. Moscow: Galart, 2015. 246 pp.; 136 color ills. Paper rubles 940.00
Exhibition schedule: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, March 13–July 26, 2015
In the early 1970s, a new trend emerged among the members of the Union of Artists of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Diverse groups of painters from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and the Russian urban centers of Moscow and Leningrad began to demonstrate a keen interest in photo-realism, producing large-scale canvases that mimicked the formal properties of photography, film, television, and other forms of mass visual media. Despite their prevalence,... Full Review
November 16, 2016
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Andrew Blauvelt, ed.
Exh. cat. Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 2015. 448 pp.; 200 color ills.; 80 b/w ills. Paper $55.00 (9781935963097)
Exhibition schedule: Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, October 24, 2015–February 28, 2016; Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI, June 19–October 9, 2016; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, February 8–May 21, 2017
Much contemporary political art, however strong in conviction, feels resigned to an inability to affect the conditions it addresses: Ai Weiwei on the migrant crisis, Laura Poitras on surveillance, and Olafur Eliasson on global warming are proximate in 2016. Conversely, Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia at the Walker Art Center remembers a moment when people believed that art could radically alter society. Hippie Modernism is filled with over two hundred and fifty... Full Review
November 11, 2016
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Gavin Delahunty, ed.
Exh. cat. London : Tate, 2015. 160 pp.; 100 color ills.; 18 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (9781849763929)
Exhibition schedule: Tate Liverpool, June 30–October 18, 2015; Dallas Museum of Art, November 20, 2015–March 20, 2016
Before viewing any of the artworks in the exhibition, visitors to Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) encounter a wall-sized, vertically oriented black-and-white photograph of a denim-clad Jackson Pollock, hammer in his back pocket, leaning closely to inspect the surface of one of his black enamel paintings. The painting he scrutinizes, Number 22, 1951, hangs in bright sunlight on the exterior wall of a wood-shingled barn. His forehead seems almost to... Full Review
November 10, 2016
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Dallas Contemporary
Dallas: Dallas Contemporary, 2016.
Exhibition schedule: Dallas Contemporary, Dallas, January 17–March 20, 2016
Black Sheep Feminism: The Art of Sexual Politics, a group exhibition curated by Alison Gingeras for the Dallas Contemporary that consists of works made mostly in the 1970s by Joan Semmel, Anita Steckel, Betty Tompkins, and Cosey Fanni Tutti, is prefaced by stanchion signs warning that the show “contains strong adult content” and that “parental guidance + viewer discretion is advised.” After checking in at the front desk, I was told that due to the sexually graphic nature of the show... Full Review
November 10, 2016
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Stella Nair
Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015. 304 pp.; 28 color ills.; 136 b/w ills. Paper $45.00 (9781477302507)
Stella Nair’s excellent new study of the Inca royal estate at Chinchero, Peru, At Home with the Sapa Inca: Architecture, Space, and Legacy at Chinchero, examines the experiential aspects of this site in relation to indigenous ideologies of space and the built environment. The book is divided into chapters that consider Inca ideas of place and time; specific architectural features; the community that built Chinchero under the direction of the tenth Inca king, Topa Inca; and that same... Full Review
November 9, 2016
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Maurice Berger
Exh. cat. New York and New Haven: Jewish Museum and Yale University Press, 2015. 172 pp.; 66 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Paper $45.00 (9780300207934)
Exhibition schedule: Jewish Museum, New York, May 1–September 27, 2015; Nova Southeastern University Art Museum, Fort Lauderdale, October 24, 2015–January 10, 2016; Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, April 9–July 31, 2016; Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore, October 20, 2016–January 8, 2017; Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, Chicago, February 16–June 11, 2017
The exhibition Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American Television offered objects and images meant to rise above the proverbial ambient static of TV—here figured literally as a wallpaper background—in an effort to argue for the formative influence of avant-garde art on the medium’s look and content in its early years. To be sure, the selections of television clips, furniture, artwork, and ephemera beguile and entertain, introducing young visitors to a bygone age of... Full Review
November 3, 2016
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Seth Price
New York: Leopard, 2015. 122 pp. Paper $20.00 (9780981546834)
Visual artist Seth Price’s Fuck Seth Price declares itself a novel. It claims this clearly on the cover: A Novel—with a capital “N.” While Fuck Seth Price is the artist’s fourth book, it is his first self-declared novel, though its qualifications to this identity begin to disintegrate even before one flips open the small volume’s die-cut cover. What readers find in the relatively short span of the book’s 122 pages is not a novel in any recognizable sense (though it makes... Full Review
November 2, 2016
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Andrew Bolton
Exh. cat. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015. 256 pp.; 231 color ills. Paper $45.00 (9780300211122)
Exhibition schedule: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, May 7–September 7, 2015
China: Through the Looking Glass, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exploration of how Chinese dress and aesthetics have influenced the Western fashion world, has been a popular success: with visitor numbers topping 800,000, it has entered the top five of the Met’s most successful exhibitions, beating another recent and immensely popular fashion exhibition also curated by Andrew Bolton, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, and proving yet again that fashion in the museum sells. But... Full Review
November 2, 2016
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Julia I. Miller and Laurie Taylor-Mitchell
University Park: Penn State University Press, 2015. 264 pp.; 34 color ills.; 47 b/w ills. Cloth $74.95 (9780271065038)
Julia I. Miller and Laurie Taylor-Mitchell’s From Giotto to Botticelli: The Artistic Patronage of the Humiliati in Florence, a long-awaited study on art related to the Humiliati (“humbled ones”), provides a fresh approach to examining the patronage of religious orders. Originating in the eleventh century near Milan, the Humiliati were officially recognized by Pope Innocent III in 1201 and the male branch suppressed in 1571, following the failed assassination of Cardinal Carlo Borromeo... Full Review
October 28, 2016
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Ruth E. Iskin
Interfaces: Studies in Visual Culture. Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College Press, 2014. 408 pp.; 48 color ills.; 188 b/w ills. Paper $50.00 (9781611686173)
Posters have long occupied a paradoxical position in the history of nineteenth-century art. Despite their appearance at the center of many exhibitions and textbook studies of the period, posters remain mostly peripheral to art history’s disciplinary foci. Ruth Iskin’s The Poster: Art, Advertising, Design, and Collecting, 1860s–1900s offers an important antidote to the exclusion of posters from substantive art-historical analysis. As her title asserts, “the poster” merits new... Full Review
October 28, 2016
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