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

Browse Recent Exhibition Reviews

Stephen F. Eisenman
Exh. cat. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017. 248 pp.; 137 color ills. Cloth $45.00 (9780691175256)
Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, September 23, 2017–March 11, 2018
William Blake and the Age of Aquarius at Northwestern University’s Block Museum, curated by Stephen F. Eisenman, is a both learned and highly accessible look at the surprisingly broad influence that William Blake exerted on American artists in the 1960s. By focusing on Blake’s impact, Eisenman manages to present the sixties in a critical light, largely free of the tired nostalgia that usually accompanies the turbulent era. As Eisenman notes in the accompanying catalogue, the term... Full Review
August 16, 2019
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John P. Jacob and Luke Skrebowski
Exh. cat. London: D. Giles Limited in association with Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2018. 252 pp.; 174 ills. Cloth $59.95 (9781911282334)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, June 21, 2018–January 6, 2019; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla, CA, February 22–June 2, 2019
For over two decades the artist and experimental geographer Trevor Paglen has given form to visually elusive subjects, from black-op military bases hidden in Nevada deserts and spy satellites encircling the earth to NSA-tapped fiber optic cables on the Pacific Ocean floor. The Smithsonian American Art Museum... Full Review
August 15, 2019
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Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, April 29, 2016–May 12, 2019
“I need my space” proclaims the slogan on today’s ubiquitous NASA-themed T-shirts and hoodies, seen at popular stores like Target, Urban Outfitters, and Forever 21. This catchy phrase also adorns lunch boxes, coffee mugs, stickers,... Full Review
August 8, 2019
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Mass MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts, May 27, 2017–2020
While the use of cutting-edge technology has become increasingly common in contemporary art, it often comes at a price. Slick display of digital technology can easily overshadow content and turn a work of art into gimmick—novel entertainment, at best. Laurie Anderson is arguably the most prominent among the handful of artists today who are aware of this challenge. Building on the legacy of Nam June Paik’s pioneering contributions to what is now called new media, Anderson has passionately... Full Review
August 2, 2019
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Caroline Campbell, Dagmar Korbacher, Neville Rowley, and Sarah Vowles, eds.
Exh. cat. London and New Haven, CT: National Gallery in association with Yale University Press, 2018. 304 pp.; 275 ills. Cloth $50.00 (9781857096347)
National Gallery, London, October 1, 2018–January 27, 2019; Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, March 1–June 30, 2019
Discussion of the interplay between the North Italian Renaissance painters Giovanni Bellini and Andrea Mantegna has been a staple of art historical literature, yet this exhibition—Mantegna & Bellini, on view at the National Gallery in London, October 1, 2018–January 27, 2019—was the first to put the two artists toe-to-toe, with their achievements in direct confrontation. It’s not an easy call. These two brilliant artists, joined by family ties and a shared geography, are often... Full Review
July 31, 2019
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Gary Garrels, ed.
Exh. cat. San Francisco and New Haven, CT: SFMoMA and Yale University Press, 2018. 272 pp.; 230 color ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780300234213)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, December 15, 2018–March 31, 2019; the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, May 4–August 5, 2019; and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, September 24, 2019–January 12, 2020
Alongside modernism’s medium specificity arose a historical distinction between “higher” and “lower” forms, attendant to those media. In such accounts, certain media are presented as agents of distraction and spectacle, others as vessels for sustained attention. That is: the oil painting or the TV set, presented in stark contrast. As scholars have dismantled such essentializing of medium, a critical preference for the subjectivities of modernism persists—a rapt and purified... Full Review
July 24, 2019
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Victoria and Albert Museum, London, September 8, 2018–February 24, 2019.
Following the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851, the V&A created a space for applied arts centered on industry and design, a space that serves as a conscious foil to traditional fine arts museums. Curators Marie Foulston and Kristian Volsing carried the spirit of this mission forward into the twenty-first century with their exhibition Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt. The show revealed the innovative practices video game designers have developed over the past fifteen... Full Review
July 8, 2019
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Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York, May 11, 2018–March 17, 2019
Organized at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, by Susan Brown, associate curator of textiles, and Jennifer Cohlman Bracchi, reference librarian, Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color showcased a broad range of objects, predominantly from the Smithsonian Institution’s impressive collections. Beginning with a selection of rare handbooks dating back to as early as the seventeenth century (e.g., Athanasius Kircher’s 1671 Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae), the exhibition... Full Review
June 24, 2019
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Adriaan E. Waiboer, Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., and Blaise Ducos
Exh. cat. New Haven, CT and Dublin: Yale University Press in association with National Gallery of Ireland, 2017. 320 pp.; 180 color ills. Hardcover $60.00 (9780300222937)
Musée du Louvre, Paris, February 22–May 22, 2017; National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, June 17–September 17, 2017; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, October 22, 2017–January 21, 2018
The exhibition Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry, on Vermeer and “other” Dutch genre painters of his era, was easily one of the most significant international events of last year. Conceived by Adriaan E. Waiboer of the National Gallery of Ireland and developed in close collaboration with two museum colleagues—Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, and Blaise Ducos from the Musée du Louvre in... Full Review
June 19, 2019
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Robert Brown, Tushara Bindu Gude, Donald Stadtner, and Lakshika Senarath Gamage
Exh. cat. Los Angeles: LACMA Collator, 2018. 106 pp.; 53 ills. Paperback $50.00 (9781943042128)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, December 9, 2018–July 7, 2019
Palm-size bronze figures of Buddhas and bodhisattvas from ancient Anuradhapura. Lion-shaped stone stair balustrades from the fourteenth century. Black-and-white photographs of tropical plants by colonial British photographers. A painted ivory comb decorated with a sword-wielding goddess. And a twenty-six-foot inflatable reclining Buddha made in California. These are just a handful of works from a special exhibition showcasing the art and culture of Sri Lanka at the Los Angeles County... Full Review
June 11, 2019
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