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

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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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Charlotte Cotton, ed.
Exh. cat. London: MACK, 2014. 192 pp.; 300 color ills. Paper $50.00 (9781910164136 )
Exhibition schedule: DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, Prague, October 24, 2014–March 2, 2015; Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, May 14, 2015–September 6, 2015; Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, October 15, 2015–January 15, 2016; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, February 12–June 5, 2016
In its opening wall text, the exhibition This Place claims to grapple with “the complexity of Israel and the West Bank, as place and metaphor,” and includes a dozen internationally acclaimed photographers in an effort to accomplish this feat. Nevertheless, in my view, a sense of apprehension regarding the loose mobilization of “place and metaphor” pervades. Certainly, multiple voices seem appropriate for engaging the discursive potential of this immensely fractured and intensely... Full Review
October 12, 2016
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Gabriela Rangel and Jorge F. Rivas Pérez, eds.
Exh. cat. New York: Americas Society, 2015. 280 pp.; 124 color ills.; 97 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (1879128799)
Exhibition schedule: Americas Society, New York, February 11–May 16, 2015; Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, October 11, 2015–January 17, 2016
The exhibition Moderno: Design for Living in Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela, 1940–1978 is a significant contribution to the study of modernisms and their relationship to processes of modernization. It focuses on domestic design in countries undergoing rapid change due to investments in infrastructure and economic growth, driven by the developmentalist policies of their governments. The home features as an important laboratory for design, where modernist ideologies with broad social... Full Review
October 5, 2016
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Austin: Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin, 2015.
Exhibition schedule: Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin, December 12, 2015–April 3, 2016
It is rare for an exhibition to be devoted to a single medieval manuscript. Such a display is impractical, if not impossible, given the fact that in most cases only one opening of a manuscript can be viewed at a time. Thus the display and exhibition of nearly every bifolio of one of the most sumptuously illuminated medieval manuscripts in a single exhibition—The Crusader Bible: A Gothic Masterpiece at the Blanton Museum of Art—represents an extraordinary opportunity to see a... Full Review
September 1, 2016
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Vicenza, Italy: Palladio Museum, 2015.
Exhibition schedule: September 23, 2015–March 28, 2016
Despite the richness of the country’s architectural heritage, museums devoted exclusively to architecture are rare in Italy; equally infrequent are exhibitions dedicated to understanding the building processes and principal protagonists responsible for shaping Italy’s historic landscape. The Palladio Museum in Vicenza is a notable exception. Since its establishment in 2012, the museum has proven itself to be an institution of international importance, promoting the study of Andrea... Full Review
August 18, 2016
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Catherine Craft, ed.
Exh. cat. Dallas: Nasher Sculpture Center, 2015. 208 pp.; 96 color ills.; 56 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9780991233830)
Exhibition schedule: Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, January 31–May 10, 2015; Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, September 1, 2015–January 10, 2016; Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH, February 12, 2016–May 8, 2016
Melvin Edwards’s work picks up where the traditional medium of sculpture—until the 1960s, associated with the production of anthropomorphic figures in the round—left off. The beginning of his career coincides almost exactly with Minimalism’s expansive redefinition of sculpture to include any three-dimensional object classifiable as art. While Donald Judd and Robert Morris were exhibiting their first stripped-down, spatially commanding objects in 1963–64, Edwards was learning to weld. Thirty... Full Review
August 11, 2016
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Exh. cat. Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2016. 264 pp. $70.00 (9781776560547)
Exhibition schedule: City Gallery Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand, August 22–November 2, 2015; Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Auckland, New Zealand, March 5–June 19, 2016; Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, Christchurch, New Zealand, July 9–November 6, 2016
A survey of thirty years’ work by one of New Zealand’s most prolific photographers required agonies of curatorial selection. Fiona Pardington and curator Aaron Lister collaborated for over two years, choosing works not only from institutional and private collections but also from boxes unearthed from under beds. Inevitably, curation becomes an exercise in synecdoche; each selection is a tip-of-the-iceberg gesture standing in for some facet of an extensive oeuvre. The combination of... Full Review
August 4, 2016
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