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

Browse Recent Exhibition Reviews

Michelle White, ed.
Exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018. 192 pp.; 289 ills. Paper $50.00 (9780300233148)
The Menil Collection, Houston, October 13, 2017–February 25, 2018; Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St. Louis, April 6–August 11, 2018
Mona Hatoum: Terra Infirma at the Menil Collection, the artist’s first major solo exhibition in the United States in about two decades, presents an overview of Hatoum’s career in a nuanced yet direct manner. Hatoum’s work benefits from its quick metaphorical wit; however, this initial, deceptively easy clarity lingers and transforms into something else entirely, an experience underscored by the work’s placement throughout various rooms of the Menil Collection. Both artist and space offered the works for the viewer’s own interpretation, although attention to their specific historical and political context is frequently warranted by Hatoum. The majority of the exhibition… Full Review
May 2, 2018
Donald Albrecht and Thomas Mellins, eds.
Exh. cat. Munich: Hirmer Publishers, 2017. 160 pp.; 200 color ills. Hardcover $39.95 (9783777428567)
Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, September 11, 2017–January 1, 2018; Museum of the City of New York, New York, June 22–October 28, 2018
On the occasion of the milestone exhibition Twenty Centuries of Mexican Art, organized by MoMA in 1940, critic, anthropologist, and cultural promoter Anita Brenner stated that the brilliant artistic scene that arose in Mexico in the early 1920s had reached its eclipse. For Brenner, as well as other influential voices from the arts field, the show at MoMA did not embody the true richness and complexity of two decades of intense artistic exploration in Mexico. Instead, it demonstrated how a series of avant-garde movements had become part of an institutional discourse. Other voices were less critical. Painter and anthropologist… Full Review
Pellom McDaniels III, ed.
Exh. cat. Atlanta: Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library at Emory University, 2017. 98 pp. Paperback
Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, & Rare Book Library, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, September 15, 2016–May 28, 2017
Camille Billops and James V. Hatch are artists, educators, archivists, and activists who dedicate their lives to creating, teaching, collecting, and preserving art that reflects the experiences of the African diaspora. Pellom McDaniels III, curator of African American Collections at the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library at Emory University, curated an exhibition and book based on the Camille Billops and James V. Hatch Archives and the James V. Hatch and Camille Billops Papers housed at the Emory University library. The exhibition and catalogue, both entitled Still Raising Hell: The Art, Activism, and Archives of Camille… Full Review
May 2, 2018
Orianna Cacchione, Li Pi, Robyn Farrell, and Katherine Grube
Exh. cat. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 2017. 96 pp.; 60 color ills. Hardcover $25.00 (9780300226225)
The Art Institute of Chicago, March 30–July 9, 2017
Zhang Peili: Record. Repeat. represents a significant scholarly work on Zhang Peili, the multimedia artist often acknowledged as China’s first video artist. The exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) featured twelve video works made between 1988 and 2007, including five large, multichannel installations. It opened with 30 × 30 (1988), considered the first video artwork made in China. The single-channel, thirty-two-minute-long video shows in tight close-up Zhang’s white-gloved hands and sneaker-clad feet as he shatters a mirror and then painstakingly reassembles it piece by piece, before breaking it again. The exhibition’s most recent work was also… Full Review
April 30, 2018
Dana Miller
Exh. cat. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016. 232 pp.; 180 color ills.; 15 b/w ills. Hardcover $65.00 (9780300221862)
Whitney Museum of American Art, September 16, 2016–January 9, 2017;Wexner Center for the Arts, The Ohio State University, February 4–April 16 2017; K20 Museum in Düsseldorf, December 2 2017–April 8, 2018
Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight was a groundbreaking exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and its catalogue—with essays by Dana Miller, Gerardo Mosquera, Serge Lemoine, and Edward J. Sullivan, over one hundred full color plates, and a chronology by Moñica Espinel—is the perfect supplement. Carmen Herrera (b. 1915, Havana, Cuba) is female, Cuban, and an abstract and minimalist painter and sculptor. Her art background is in architecture and painting, and she utilizes both of these disciplines in her work. Before Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight opened at the Whitney Museum in fall 2016, Herrera’s name and her work… Full Review
April 27, 2018
William Curtis
Eds Mateo Kries and Jochen Eisenbrand Exh. cat. Weil am Rhein: Vitra Design Museum, 2013. 370 pp.; 250 color ills.; 250 b/w ills. Hardcover $100.00 (9783931936921)
Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, August 11–November 11, 2017; Kimbell Art Museum, Ft Worth, March 26–June 25, 2017; San Diego Museum of Art, November 5, 2016–January 31, 2017; Bellevue Arts Museum, January 29–May 1, 2016; Taipei Museum of Fine Art, Taiwan, March 28–July 5, 2015; London Design Museum, July 9–October 12, 2014; National Museum, Oslo, Norway, October 18, 2013–January 26, 2014; Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany, February 23–August 11, 2013; Netherlands Architecture Institute, Rotterdam, September 7, 2012–January 6, 2013
Visitors to the exhibition Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture, at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia—the final venue of an international, five-year tour—were greeted by a larger-than-life photographic portrait of the architect, his striking profile and silver hair outlined against the dark background, finger thoughtfully touching his lips and barely concealing a bemused smile. Cocurated by Stanislaus von Moos and Jochen Eisenbrand for the Vitra Design Museum, the exhibition and the lavishly illustrated catalogue with contributions by major scholars probed the many facets of this enigmatic, uncategorizable architect who daringly looked back to the classical past to… Full Review
April 26, 2018
William Johnston Building Gallery, Florida State University, September 28–November 4, 2017
The exhibition Kul’ttovary: Bringing Culture into the Soviet Home at Florida State University (FSU) was a welcome contribution in the area of Soviet design history. In narratives about this period, familiar tropes about lack of choice and low-quality, reverse-engineered copies are often contrasted with the iconic products of the United States, such as an Eames chair or the ’57 Chevy. However, this juxtaposition often involves thinking about design through certain Western assumptions, and can get in the way of a more thorough exploration of the history of Soviet material culture, a world precisely not driven by the values… Full Review
April 24, 2018
Rice University’s 300-acre campus is a bucolic enclave situated between the Museum District and the Texas Medical Center, all to the south of downtown Houston. The bulk of its academic buildings are clustered at its axial and planned core. Its north edge and east edge along Main Street are tree lined, well groomed and park-like. Its south and west edges are less tidy, however, and are lined with more functional structures—sports fields and surface parking lots. The Moody Center for the Arts, designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture in Los Angeles and opened in February 2017, is not part of the… Full Review
April 17, 2018
Mary-Dailey Desmarais and Thomas Brent Smith, eds.
Exh. cat. New York: Abrams, 2017. 304 pp.; 300 color ills. Cloth $45.00 (9788874397655)
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, October 14, 2017–February 4, 2018
Denver Art Museum, May 27–September 10, 2017
“This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” This quote from John Ford’s film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) illustrates the blurred line between fact and fiction in the American story of nation building. The exhibition Once Upon a Time . . . The Western: A New Frontier in Art and Film, cocurated by Mary-Dailey Desmarais of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) and Thomas Brent Smith of the Denver Art Museum (DAM), where it was titled The Western: An Epic in Art and Film, carefully… Full Review
April 13, 2018
Andrea Andersson, Lucy Lippard, Macarena Gómez-Barris, and Julia Bryan-Wilson
Exh. cat. Los Angeles: Siglio, 2017. 160 pp. Paperback $32.95 (9781938221156)
Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans, March 16–June 18, 2017
Through gestures of collecting and connecting, touch has defined the lifelong project of Chilean-born artist, poet, filmmaker, and activist Cecilia Vicuña. With the exhibition Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen, her deeply compassionate work gains an urgently needed visibility. Vicuña insists on the existence of a world that is interconnected and in which we, humans, are inherently embedded. Experiences of touch evoked by and constitutive of her work rupture the subject’s perceived individuality, isolation, and autonomy. This touch signifies a relationship—one that has already been established or is about to be established. One’s first encounter with Vicuña’s work as installed… Full Review
April 6, 2018