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

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Sébastien Allard, Côme Fabre, Dominique de Font-Réaulx, Michèle Hannoosh, Mehdi Korchane, and Asher Miller
Exh. cat. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2018. 328 pp.; 288 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9781588396518)
Musée du Louvre, Paris, France, March 29–July 23, 2018; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, September 17, 2018–January 6, 2019
On June 22, 1863—less than two months before his death—Delacroix concluded his Journal with a maxim that had guided his hand for some four decades: “The chief merit of a painting is to be a feast for the eye.” Entwined with this pursuit of visual delight was an insatiable appetite for pathos to which he had earlier confessed in a letter to Baron Charles Rivet (February 15, 1838): “My tragic inclinations always dominate me, and the Graces rarely smile on me.” The fertility of this... Full Review
May 2, 2019
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Morrison H. Heckscher
Exh. cat. Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 75, no. 4 (Spring 2018). 2018. 48 pp.; 55 color ills. Paperback $14.95 (9781588396471)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, May 14, 2018–January 27, 2019
The year 2018 marked the three-hundredth birthday of London cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale (1718–1779), whose legacy embodies an international style as much as actual designs and examples of furniture. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s recent exhibition celebrated the master while also reflecting on the cultural relevance of antique furniture today. Tucked into the American Wing’s Virginia and Leonard Marx Gallery, the two-room exhibition offered a brief examination of Chippendale’s... Full Review
May 1, 2019
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Martha H. Kennedy
Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2018. 255 pp.; 250 color ills. Cloth $50.00 (9781496815927)
In 1915 artist Cecilia Beaux wrote, “I very earnestly believe . . . that there should be no sex in Art. . . . I am pointing, I know, to a millennium at least . . . when the term ‘Women in Art’ will be as strange sounding a topic as the title ‘Men in Art’ would be now” (xi). This quote becomes a rallying cry for Drawn to Purpose: American Women Illustrators and Cartoonists at the Library of Congress. Prominently displayed in the exhibition and reiterated on the first page of the... Full Review
April 26, 2019
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Kim Conaty, ed.
Exh. cat. New Haven and New York: Yale University Press and Whitney Museum of American Art, 2018. 160 pp.; 115 color ills.; 15 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (9780300234978)
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, June 8–November 25, 2018
On the top floor of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Mary Corse’s (b. 1945) expansive canvas Untitled (White Inner Band) captivated with a subdued brilliance. Its pale vertical bands shimmered in response to ambient light. A seasoned art viewer new to the experience of Corse’s work could draw comparisons with analogous minimal painters like Agnes Martin or Robert Ryman. However, such comparisons dissolved as the vertical bands appeared and disappeared relative to one’s mobility.... Full Review
March 19, 2019
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Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, March 13–August 13, 2017
In 1839, shortly after publishing “Some Account of the Art of Photogenic Drawing, or the Process by Which Natural Objects May Be Made to Delineate Themselves without the Aid of the Artist’s Pencil,” William Henry Fox Talbot sent a letter along with thirty-six examples of photogenic drawings to Antonio Bertoloni, a botanist in Bologna, Italy. Talbot undoubtedly desired to alert colleagues to his invention in the wake of Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre’s announcement of his own... Full Review
March 4, 2019
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Catherine Chevillot and Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, eds.
Exh. cat. Paris: Les éditions Réunion des Musées Nationaux-Grand Palais, 2017. 400 pp.; 420 ills. Hardcover € 49.00 (9782711863730)
Musée Rodin/RMN Rodin, Grand Palais, Paris, France, March 22–July 31, 2017
To mark the centenary of the death of Auguste Rodin, the Musée Rodin organized a range of events and acted as communication hub for celebratory happenings around the world, which included this weighty (in every sense) and lavishly illustrated book. Its appendices alone comprise an invaluable, clear record of the exhibition, with a detailed catalogue of works exhibited (332 entries), an extensive bibliography, and a list of works alphabetically by sculptor. But the bulk of the book... Full Review
February 1, 2019
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Jeffrey Spier, Timothy F. Potts, and Sara E. Cole
Exh. cat. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2018. 360 pp.; 322 color ills.; 18 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9781606065518)
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, March 27–September 9, 2018
Beyond the Nile: Egypt and the Classical World of Greece and Rome was the first in a series of exhibitions organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum that put the art and history of ancient Greece and Rome in context by elucidating their relationships with neighboring civilizations of the Mediterranean and Near East. This approach of viewing pre-modern civilizations as part of a global network, in this case interconnected via trade, diplomacy, warfare, and religion, is part of a larger... Full Review
January 25, 2019
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Linda Borean and Stefania Mason Rinaldi, eds.
Exh. cat. Cinisello Balsamo: Silvana Editoriale, 2018. 285 pp.; 170 color ills. Cloth $47.50 (9788836638734)
Palais Fesch-Musée des Beaux-Arts, Ajaccio, Corsica, France, June 29–October 1, 2018
Rencontres à Venise was visually sumptuous and intellectually stimulating while manageable in size, graced by the superb quality of the loans and accompanied by an excellent catalogue, coedited by the curators Stefania Mason and Linda Borean, two distinguished Italian scholars of Venetian art. Whereas Mason’s catalogue essay provides a fresh analysis of the renewal of Venetian painting in the seventeenth century, weaving together its many threads, Borean’s contribution traces... Full Review
January 25, 2019
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Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas, June 30–August 26, 2018
From the Page to the Street: Latin American Conceptualism, curated by Julia Detchon, the 2017–2018 Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Latin American Art at the Blanton Museum, draws from its collection of prints and drawings to reconsider the role of paper in translating the concerns of artists into political protest in Latin America during the 1960s and early 1980s. Whether designed to evade the censorship of regional dictators or to bind the concerns of art to the conditions of daily... Full Review
January 18, 2019
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Andrew Bolton
Exh. cat. Two volumes. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2018. 335 pp.; 330 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (9781588396457)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, May 10–October 7, 2018
Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, the latest exhibition from the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, explored the influence of Catholicism on fashion. As curator Andrew Bolton writes in the exhibition catalogue, it examined “how the Catholic imagination has shaped the creativity of designers and how it is conveyed through their fashions” (96). The exhibition design, by architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, capitalized on light and height... Full Review
January 2, 2019
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