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

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Byzantine Fresco Chapel, Menil Collection, Houston, TX, May 21, 2016 – Oct 28, 2018
Installed at the Menil Collection’s Byzantine Fresco Chapel in Houston, Texas, more than four hundred handmade images of the fourth-century saint Fabiola comprise Francis Alÿs’s latest version of The Fabiola Project. Except for a few small objects displayed in an adjoining room, the pictures are hung on a single wall 24 feet tall by 40.5 feet wide. The lower one-third of the works can be inspected closely, but the rest reside too high for such pursuits and are subsequently absorbed into a field of color dominated by the figures’ red veils. Adorning the left-facing profile of a woman, the… Full Review
December 12, 2017
Sarah Kate Gillespie, Janice Simon, Meredith E. Ward, and Kimberly Orcutt
Exh. cat. Athens: Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, 2016. 126 pp.; 42 color ills.; 40 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (9780915977956)
Exhibition schedule: Georgia Museum of Art, September 17–December 11, 2016
The forty works featured in Icon of Modernism: Representing the Brooklyn Bridge, 1883–1950 illustrate the influence that the imposing New York architectural landmark has had on modernist artists of varying stripes since its completion in 1883 to just after the Second World War. Included are a mix of paintings, works on paper, and photographs executed in several modernist styles from American Impressionism to Surrealism that depict the bridge from key vantage points. In fact, in the accompanying exhibition catalogue curator Sarah Kate Gillespie identifies three distinct categories of bridge imagery, the first being “views of the long sweep of the… Full Review
December 6, 2017
Victoria Lynn and Helen Hughes
Exh. cat. Healesville, Australia: TarraWarra Museum of Art, 2016. 120 pp.; 110 ills. AU$15.00 (9780994455222)
Exhibition schedule: TarraWarra Museum of Art, Healesville, Australia, August 19–November 6, 2016
The 2016 TarraWarra Biennial was conceptualized as an exchange between two influential modes within contemporary art today: the recurring “biennial” exhibition format and the prevalence of contemporary art journals. The exhibition’s curatorial premise, its catalogue, and its associated program of talks and publications were envisaged by curators Victoria Lynn (director of TarraWarra Museum of Art) and Helen Hughes (co-founder of Discipline journal) as being not simply in dialogue with each other, but constructing an interconnected project not bounded by gallery walls or catalogue pages. The biennial’s theme, “Endless Circulation,” suggested a feeling of perpetual movement and flux that occurs… Full Review
December 5, 2017
Matthew Affron, Mark A. Castro, Dafne Cruz Porchini, and Renato González Mello, eds.
Exh. cat. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2016. 432 pp.; 350 color ills.; 20 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300215229)
Exhibition schedule: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, October 25, 2016–January 8, 2017; Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, February 3–April 30, 2017; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, June 25–October 1, 2017
Marking the centenary of the Mexican Constitution (and some argue the end of the Mexican Revolution), the year 2017 is the occasion for many celebrations of Mexican art and culture. Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism, 1910–1950 offers a rare opportunity to see numerous exceptional examples of Mexican modern art, many loaned from private collections. The exhibition and its accompanying lavishly illustrated catalogue are collaborations between the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) and the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Curators Matthew Affron, Mark A. Castro, Dafne Cruz Porchini, and Renato González Mello’s welcome transnational perspective… Full Review
December 5, 2017
Pilar Silva Maroto, ed.
Exh. cat. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2016. 400 pp. Paper $45.00 (9780500970799)
Exhibition schedule: Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. May 31–September 25, 2016
In summer 2016, on the five hundredth anniversary of Jheronimus Bosch’s death (ca. 1450–1516), the Museo Nacional del Prado staged an impressive, well-researched monographic exhibition on the highly original and imaginative Netherlandish artist. Curated by Pilar Silva Maroto, head of the departments of Flemish and early Spanish painting at the Prado, who also edited the hefty scholarly catalogue that accompanied the show, the exhibition provided a unique opportunity to view the majority of Bosch’s works together for the first time. Its emphasis on the works themselves, on their materiality and technique, provided a fresh insight into Bosch’s oeuvre, which has… Full Review
November 10, 2017
Jens Hoffmann and Claudia J. Nahson
Exh. cat. New York: Jewish Museum in association with Yale University Press, 2016. 224 pp.; 185 color ills.; 20 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (9780300212150)
Exhibition schedule: The Jewish Museum, New York, May 6–September 18, 2016; Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, Berlin, July 7–October 8, 2017; Museu de Arte do Rio, Rio de Janeiro, November 2017–March 2018
In presenting the work of Roberto Burle Marx (1909–1994), curators Jens Hoffmann and Claudia J. Nahson (with Rebecca Shaykin) and the Jewish Museum have expanded the range of exhibitions on architecture and design to include not only a designer from Latin America but one whose primary medium is the most difficult to capture and express museographically: modern landscape architecture. While the focus is on the landscapes he designed, Roberto Burle Marx: Brazilian Modernist shows that his production was multidisciplinary and included everything from paintings, tapestries, sculptures, and maquettes, to decorative objects and jewelry. Works by international contemporary artists influenced by… Full Review
November 10, 2017
Henri Loyrette
Exh. cat. Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 2016. 255 pp.; 309 ills. Cloth $55.00 (9780890901915)
Exhibition schedule: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, June 24–September 18, 2016; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, October 16, 2016–January 16, 2017
Degas: A New Vision offered a rare, broad, and true career-spanning retrospective of Edgar Degas (1834–1917), whose body of work was produced over the course of half a century, in a trajectory that made many twists and turns. Degas was an artist deeply rooted in the traditions of the Renaissance and the Academy yet also one of the most avant-garde artists of his era. His innovations in monoprint, for example, both as a unique medium and in conjunction with pastel, show an experimental sensitivity to materials more commonly associated with modernists of the twentieth century. His interest in color theory… Full Review
October 20, 2017
Edward H. Wouk, ed.
Exh. cat. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016. 240 pp.; 55 ills. Cloth £25.00 (9781526109569)
Exhibition schedule: The Whitworth, University of Manchester, UK, September 30, 2016–May 29, 2017
The exhibition Marcantonio Raimondi and Raphael celebrates the collaboration between the celebrated papal court painter Raphael Sanzio (1483–1520) and the lesser-known but respected Bolognese metal engraver and goldsmith Marcantonio Raimondi (ca. 1480–ca. 1534). Tracing the development of the close working partnership shared between artist and craftsman, the exhibition reveals how this unique relationship benefited both men in their chosen artistic fields. Marcantonio Raimondi and Raphael centers on a number of exquisitely executed engravings in which the vision presented through Raphael’s drawings is transposed through the mastery of Marcantonio’s burin. Borrowed from collections throughout England, most notably from Manchester’s own… Full Review
October 13, 2017
John T. Hill and Heinz Liesbrock, eds.
Exh. cat. New York: Prestel, 2015. 408 pp.; 50 color ills.; 350 b/w ills. Cloth $85.00 (9783791382234)
Exhibition schedule: Josef Albers Museum Quadrat Bottrop, Germany, September 27, 2015–January 10, 2016; High Museum of Art, June 11–September 11, 2016; Vancouver Art Gallery, October 29, 2016–January 22, 2017
Walking into the Walker Evans: Depth of Field exhibition at the High Museum, one encountered three distinct gallery spaces that effectively chart the path of Walker Evans’s (1903–1975) career from his early work to his last images. Although his Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographs form the core of the exhibition—pictures that document the effect of the Great Depression across the United States and especially in the American South—the impact of Depth of Field is that it demonstrates the development of a highly personalized and exacting style over the course of Evans’s lifetime. He skillfully captured people and places… Full Review
October 6, 2017
Alexandra Schwartz
Exh. cat. Oakland: University of California Press, 2015. 176 pp.; Many color ills. Cloth $44.95 (9780520282889)
Exhibition schedule: Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, February 8–May 17, 2015; Telfair Museums, Savannah, June 12–September 20, 2015; University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, October 16, 2015–January 31, 2016; Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, February 21–May 15, 2016
In asking how best to characterize and periodize the 1990s, Philip Wegner proposes the “counterintuitive asymmetry” of beginning the decade with the fall of the Berlin wall, an event “which is in fact an ending,” and ending with 9/11, an event which he positions as “the opening of the true post-Cold War global situation” (Life Between Two Deaths, 1989–2001: U.S. Culture in the Long Nineties, Durham: Duke University Press, 2009: 28). The “long 1990s” (1989–2001), Wegner surmises, was a time caught “between two deaths,” a time during which certain kinds of histories (U.S./European geopolitics) were centralized and others… Full Review
September 28, 2017