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

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Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray
Exh. cat. New York: Skira Rizzoli, 2015. 256 pp.; 200+ color ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780847845279)
Exhibition schedule: National Portrait Gallery, London, February 12–May 25, 2015; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, June 29–October 4, 2015
Curated by the prominent John Singer Sargent (1856–1925) scholar Richard Ormond, the exhibition Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends at the Metropolitan Museum of Art presents ninety-two works that depict members of the artist’s vast social circle. Spread across five rooms and organized chronologically by Sargent’s location, these images chart the ways in which the artist’s personal relationships and growing prestige afforded him substantial access to creative personalities who... Full Review
November 17, 2016
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A. A. Rub, ed.
Exh. cat. Moscow: Galart, 2015. 246 pp.; 136 color ills. Paper rubles 940.00
Exhibition schedule: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, March 13–July 26, 2015
In the early 1970s, a new trend emerged among the members of the Union of Artists of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Diverse groups of painters from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and the Russian urban centers of Moscow and Leningrad began to demonstrate a keen interest in photo-realism, producing large-scale canvases that mimicked the formal properties of photography, film, television, and other forms of mass visual media. Despite their prevalence,... Full Review
November 16, 2016
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Andrew Blauvelt, ed.
Exh. cat. Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 2015. 448 pp.; 200 color ills.; 80 b/w ills. Paper $55.00 (9781935963097)
Exhibition schedule: Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, October 24, 2015–February 28, 2016; Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI, June 19–October 9, 2016; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, February 8–May 21, 2017
Much contemporary political art, however strong in conviction, feels resigned to an inability to affect the conditions it addresses: Ai Weiwei on the migrant crisis, Laura Poitras on surveillance, and Olafur Eliasson on global warming are proximate in 2016. Conversely, Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia at the Walker Art Center remembers a moment when people believed that art could radically alter society. Hippie Modernism is filled with over two hundred and fifty... Full Review
November 11, 2016
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Gavin Delahunty, ed.
Exh. cat. London : Tate, 2015. 160 pp.; 100 color ills.; 18 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (9781849763929)
Exhibition schedule: Tate Liverpool, June 30–October 18, 2015; Dallas Museum of Art, November 20, 2015–March 20, 2016
Before viewing any of the artworks in the exhibition, visitors to Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) encounter a wall-sized, vertically oriented black-and-white photograph of a denim-clad Jackson Pollock, hammer in his back pocket, leaning closely to inspect the surface of one of his black enamel paintings. The painting he scrutinizes, Number 22, 1951, hangs in bright sunlight on the exterior wall of a wood-shingled barn. His forehead seems almost to... Full Review
November 10, 2016
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Dallas Contemporary
Dallas: Dallas Contemporary, 2016.
Exhibition schedule: Dallas Contemporary, Dallas, January 17–March 20, 2016
Black Sheep Feminism: The Art of Sexual Politics, a group exhibition curated by Alison Gingeras for the Dallas Contemporary that consists of works made mostly in the 1970s by Joan Semmel, Anita Steckel, Betty Tompkins, and Cosey Fanni Tutti, is prefaced by stanchion signs warning that the show “contains strong adult content” and that “parental guidance + viewer discretion is advised.” After checking in at the front desk, I was told that due to the sexually graphic nature of the show... Full Review
November 10, 2016
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Maurice Berger
Exh. cat. New York and New Haven: Jewish Museum and Yale University Press, 2015. 172 pp.; 66 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Paper $45.00 (9780300207934)
Exhibition schedule: Jewish Museum, New York, May 1–September 27, 2015; Nova Southeastern University Art Museum, Fort Lauderdale, October 24, 2015–January 10, 2016; Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, April 9–July 31, 2016; Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore, October 20, 2016–January 8, 2017; Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, Chicago, February 16–June 11, 2017
The exhibition Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American Television offered objects and images meant to rise above the proverbial ambient static of TV—here figured literally as a wallpaper background—in an effort to argue for the formative influence of avant-garde art on the medium’s look and content in its early years. To be sure, the selections of television clips, furniture, artwork, and ephemera beguile and entertain, introducing young visitors to a bygone age of... Full Review
November 3, 2016
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Andrew Bolton
Exh. cat. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015. 256 pp.; 231 color ills. Paper $45.00 (9780300211122)
Exhibition schedule: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, May 7–September 7, 2015
China: Through the Looking Glass, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exploration of how Chinese dress and aesthetics have influenced the Western fashion world, has been a popular success: with visitor numbers topping 800,000, it has entered the top five of the Met’s most successful exhibitions, beating another recent and immensely popular fashion exhibition also curated by Andrew Bolton, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, and proving yet again that fashion in the museum sells. But... Full Review
November 2, 2016
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Taryn Simon
Exh. cat. New York and Berlin: Gagosian Gallery and Hatje Cantz, 2016. 208 pp.; 1,006 color ills. Cloth $100.00 (9783775741576)
Exhibition schedule: Gagosian Gallery, New York, February 18–March 26, 2016
Taryn Simon’s bibliography for Paperwork and the Will of Capital includes an 1816 volume by Scottish horticulturalist George Sinclair. His Hortus gramineus Woburnensis catalogues the results of soil and planting experiments conducted to enhance the performance and nutritive value of various types of grass cultivated for animal fodder. Plant communities composed of diverse species, Sinclair found, produce a greater yield than less species-rich plots. The implications of this... Full Review
October 26, 2016
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Darsie Alexander and Bartholomew Ryan, eds.
Exh. cat. Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 2015. 352 pp.; 230 color ills.; 115 b/w ills. Cloth $85.00 (9781935963080)
Exhibition schedule: Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, April 11–August 29, 2015; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, October 11, 2015–January 17, 2016; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, February 18, 2016–May 15, 2016
Organized by the Walker Art Center, International Pop is an ambitious show that aims to rethink the canonical narratives of one of the most recognizable artistic styles of the twentieth century. Structured around five national and five thematic galleries, it attempts to overturn the idea of Pop as a primarily American and British movement by redefining it as a fluid sensibility with an international reach and relevance. While the exhibition catalogue includes an impressively detailed... Full Review
October 20, 2016
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Centre Pompidou, Paris, February 26–March 6, 2016
What might dance achieve in a museum is the guiding question of choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s exhibition Work/Travail/Arbeid at the Centre Pompidou. Embedded within that broad question are several, more specific, strands: How might dance change perceptions of time and space? What defines dance as a medium? What remains after the exhibition? Such issues are endemic to a long-standing, sophisticated conversation about the possibilities of contemporary dance in museums (see,... Full Review
October 13, 2016
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