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

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Sol Henaro, Mónica Mayer, Karen Cordero, Griselda Pollock, and et. al.
Exh. cat. Mexico City and Barcelona: MUAC-UNAM, Alumnos 47 and Editorial RM and RM Verlag, 2016. 272 pp. Paper Mex$300.00 (9786070251757)
Exhibition schedule: Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City February 6, 2015—July 31, 2016
It is rare when a retrospective exhibition centers on collective artistic production rather than the traditional focus on a singular (and most frequently male) artist. Si tiene dudas . . . pregunte: Una exposición retrocolectiva de Mónica Mayer / When in Doubt . . . Ask: A Retrocollective of Mónica Mayer, held at the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC) in Mexico City, successfully worked to highlight a pioneering figure in feminist art practice in Mexico while it simultaneously destabilized expectations of the retrospective format by emphasizing the role of collective artistic practice in Mayer’s work. Since the… Full Review
September 20, 2017
Christine Van Assche and Clarrie Wallis, eds.
Exh. cat. London: Tate Publishing, 2016. 196 pp.; 250 color ills. Paper $47.00 (9781849763608)
Exhibition schedule: Centre Pompidou, Paris, June 24–September 28, 2015; Tate Modern, London, May 4–August 21, 2016; Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, October 7, 2016–February 26, 2017
Mona Hatoum is a potentially paradoxical example of the contemporary artist working on the international scene today: On the one hand, she embraces various media and aesthetics in a pared-down, Duchampian approach to material and conceptual-based practices. On the other hand, she is a Palestinian woman who was forced into exile in London due to civil unrest in the Middle East in the 1970s, and thus an artist whose life experience is anything but clean and neat. It might be easy to presume, then, that Hatoum’s artistic agenda is strongly political, and yet her art almost uniformly (and cleverly) toys… Full Review
September 15, 2017
Emily Braun
Exh. cat. New York: Guggenheim Museum, 2015. 250 ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780892075232)
Exhibition schedule: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, October 9, 2015–January 6, 2016; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, K21 Ständehaus, Düsseldorf, March 5–July 3, 2016
Alberto Burri (1915–1995) had an extremely successful career almost from the get go, and his work was widely exhibited during most of it. However, if over the past thirty or so years one wished to see work by Burri in the flesh, one needed to make strenuous efforts to do so, for example by going to the artist’s native Città di Castello in Italy where Burri established the Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri in 1978, and subsequently placed late work on permanent display in the Ex Seccatoi del Tabacco. Otherwise, this artist’s work is difficult to find in museum and… Full Review
September 15, 2017
Stephen Gilchrist, ed.
Exh. cat. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Art Museums, 2016. 228 pp.; 122 color ills.; 2 b/w ills. Cloth (9780300214703)
Exhibition schedule: Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA, February 5–September 18, 2016
Near the entrance to Everywhen: The Eternal Present in Indigenous Art from Australia, a group of framed works on paper, all modestly scaled and dating from 1971–72, hang in a line. For some viewers, their distinctive disposition of spirals, striations, lines, networks, and circles will immediately call up traditions of Indigenous mark-making and design in Australia. The media used are less familiar, though. Here it is not a case of the materials most often identified with Indigenous Australian art—natural pigments on bark, for example, or acrylics on linen or canvas. Nor is it a question of media that are… Full Review
August 24, 2017
Joan Marter, ed.
Exh. cat. Denver: Denver Art Museum in association with Yale University Press, 2016. 216 pp.; 138 color ills.; 50 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780300208429)
Exhibition schedule: Denver Art Museum, Denver, June 12–September 25, 2016; Mint Museum, Charlotte, October 22–January 22, 2017; Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, February 18–May 28, 2017
There is much to celebrate about the exhibition Women of Abstract Expressionism curated by Gwen Chanzit for the Denver Art Museum (DAM), and indeed the mood of the show was decidedly exuberant in its design and content. From the breathtaking views of Helen Frankenthaler’s towering Jacobs Ladder (1957), Lee Krasner’s ebullient The Seasons (1957), or Elaine de Kooning’s explosive Bullfight (1959) to the reading room lined with archival photographs of laughing artists reveling in their 1950s studios, there was an air of excitement conjured throughout. This feeling was matched in the critical reception for the exhibition which has received much… Full Review
August 10, 2017
Exhibition schedule: Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR, July 23–November 13, 2016
Josh Kline: Freedom, curated by Sara Krajewski for the Portland Art Museum, is the title of the first work in a projected five-work cycle by the artist. Each will imagine a future that extends out from the present’s particular techno-economic landscapes. Less a single work than an evolving cluster of works, Freedom has been previously exhibited at the New Museum (2015) and Modern Art Oxford (2015). The Portland Art Museum show marks its completion (public conversation between Krajewski and Kline, Portland Art Museum, July 22, 2016). Many reviews of Freedom have covered some of the work’s most apparent interests… Full Review
July 26, 2017
Adam Pendleton
Exh. cat. Los Angeles and New Orleans: Siglio and Contemporary Art Center, 2016. 144 pp.; Many b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (9781938221132)
Exhibition schedule: Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA, April 1–June 16, 2016; Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Denver, July 15–September 25, 2016; Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, January 27–May 14, 2017
Installed in a city many consider ground zero for Black Lives Matter at a particularly volatile moment in U.S. race relations, Adam Pendleton: Becoming Imperceptible at the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) in New Orleans is charged with a political urgency at odds with the artist’s restrained forms, prosaic typography, and cryptic citations. Yet the triumph—and challenge—of Pendleton’s language-based enquiries reside in their capacity to interrogate system and process as provocatively as they explore the African American experience. The show’s title, Becoming Imperceptible, evokes the ontological investigations of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, who coined the phrase, and a specifically… Full Review
July 19, 2017
The third incarnation of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) opened to great fanfare in May 2016. The new building more than doubles SFMOMA’s galleries, increases by over ten times the educational facilities, and multiples by four the spaces devoted to cinema and performance. Despite the expanded potential, reactions were mixed. Much of the criticism focused on the architecture, notably the rippling facade of fiberglass-reinforced polymer panels. The sheathing incorporates white sand from the dunes of Monterey Bay that plays with the light atmospherically. Critics have described the facade diversely as “a giant iceberg” (Los Angeles Times… Full Review
July 18, 2017
Exhibition schedule: Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, March 12–July 11, 2016
“When you join an institution, you join its history as much as you work to create its future,” explained Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), Chief Curator Helen Molesworth shortly after accepting the position in 2014. Since then, Molesworth has reinstalled the museum’s Grand Avenue galleries as The Art of Our Time (August 15, 2015–September 12, 2016). A revision of postwar art history, it began with the experimentalism of North Carolina’s Black Mountain College instead of the familiar crucible of New York City. Winding toward the present, Molesworth similarly articulated formal and conceptual sympathies between the familiar and the… Full Review
July 12, 2017
Asia Society Texas Center, Houston. Exhibition schedule: March 26–July 3, 2016
The exhibition We Chat: A Dialogue in Contemporary Chinese Art took its name from the popular social-media app in China, giving space and voice to ten artists born after the end of the Cultural Revolution (1966–76). These artists are some of China’s “Millennials” (known also as the “Me Generation,” and successors of what might be called the “Mao Generation”), who were of single-digit age during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest-turned-massacre. Self-reflective and uninhibited by conventional social constructions of the past, the artists and their work suggest a new art history in the making. As a generation, they are similar to… Full Review
July 6, 2017