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

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John House, Petra ten-Doesschate Chu, and Jennifer Hardin
Exh. cat. St. Petersburg and Gent, Belgium: Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg in association with Snoeck, 2005. 206 pp. $35.00 (9053495452)
Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Fla., January 16–April 24, 2005; Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, N.Y., May 27–September 4, 2005; Baltimore Museum of Fine Arts, Baltimore, Md., October 2–December 31, 2005
At first glance this exhibition seemed misnamed, since, far from focusing exclusively on Monet, it presented a diverse group of dozens of artists and image-makers including European and American painters, printmakers, and photographers, all of whom were fascinated by the River Thames. A catalogue entry by the exhibition organizer, Jennifer Hardin, chief curator at the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, explains that the original motivation for the exhibition was the museum’s own Monet,... Full Review
January 23, 2006
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Joachim Pissarro
Museum of Modern Art, 2005. 256 pp.; 92 color ills.; 50 b/w ills. Paper $40.00 (0870701851)
Exhibition schedule: Museum of Modern Art, New York, June 26–September 12, 2005; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, October 20, 2005–January 16, 2006; Musée d’Orsay, Paris, February 27–May 28, 2006
The Museum of Modern Art’s Cézanne & Pissarro: Pioneering Modern Painting is the latest in a spate of recent shows focused on the theme of collaboration between a pair of modern artists.[1] Yet even if the theme and subject it proposes to examine is not new, the body of work assembled and shown together for the first time in this retrospective overview of the nearly twenty-year period that Paul Cézanne and Camille Pissarro were in closest dialogue is undeniably impressive.[2] The... Full Review
January 16, 2006
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Pieter Biesboer
Waanders, 2004. 144 pp.; 20 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (9040090068)
Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem, November 27, 2004–April 4, 2005; Kunsthaus Zürich, April 22–August 22, 2005; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., September 18–December 31, 2005
It is perhaps not surprising that the exhibition of the still lifes of Pieter Claesz. at the National Gallery in Washington is the first monographic show devoted to this artist. As a friend commented on paging through the catalogue, “His works are rather all of a piece, aren’t they?” It is very likely that more than one curator has turned away from the idea of such a show out of concern that the public might find the work too much alike to sustain interest. It is undeniably true that Claesz.... Full Review
January 10, 2006
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Jean Frémon and Antoni Tàpies
Exh. cat. Klosterneuberg, Austria: Edition Sammlung Essl Privatstiftung, 2005.
Sammlung Essl: Kunst der Gegenwart, Klosterneuburg, June 24, 2005–October 23, 2005
In this exhibition, Klosterneuburg’s Essl Collection—dedicated since 1995 to the dissemination of contemporary art—brings the Catalan artist Antoni Tàpies and the Austrian artist Arnulf Rainer together for the first time, thereby creating a unique encounter between their respective oeuvres. Conceived by collector Karlheinz Essl, whose collection contains most of the ninety-plus works on display, the exhibition was curated by Jean Frémon, a co-director of Paris’s Galerie Lelong and a long-time... Full Review
December 16, 2005
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Jonathan Demme, ed.
Kaliko Press, 1998. 63 pp.; 43 color ills. Paper
Selden Rodman Gallery of Popular Arts of the Americas and the Caribbean, Ramapo College, Mahwah, N.J., February 8–March 18, 2005; Waterloo Center for the Arts, Waterloo, Iowa., June 10–August 29, 2005
Ever since the American artist DeWitt Peters started the Centre d’Art of Port-au-Prince in 1944, Haitian art has attracted major European and American artists and collectors. Decades after Haitian art admirer André Breton called the landscape of the tropics the landscape of Surrealism, generous art donors and collectors with connections to the Midwest have raised the commercial value of Haitian art while establishing three major regional collections—at Iowa’s Waterloo Center for the Arts... Full Review
December 7, 2005
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Beacon: NY: Dia:Beacon, 2005.
Dia:Beacon, Beacon, N.Y., April 14–November 7, 2005
Agnes Martin and Jackson Pollock were both born in 1912, but Pollock had died by the time Martin moved from New Mexico to New York in 1957 to establish herself as a painter. Martin came at the behest of Betty Parsons, one of many women artists whom Parsons took under her wing as the fervor of Abstract Expressionism faded. Many of these women deferred their artistic careers until midlife, after families or more traditional careers—Martin herself was a teacher. Throughout her life, Martin... Full Review
December 5, 2005
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Carl Brandon Strehlke, ed.
Exh. cat. University Park and Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art in association with Pennsylvania State University Press, 2004. 184 pp.; 65 color ills.; 70 b/w ills. Cloth $40.00 (0271025360)
November 20, 2004–February 13, 2005
The thematic core of this exhibition was built around two vastly different but compelling unofficial portraits, Pontormo’s Alessandro de’ Medici (1534–35) and Bronzino’s Cosimo I de’ Medici as Orpheus (ca. 1537–39), each in the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Augmented by about fifty works selected from American and European collections, the exhibition explored the contribution of these two masters to the development and transformation of portraiture... Full Review
November 28, 2005
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If ambiguity was something that could be seen or touched, it might have a tangible yet enigmatic effect. Perhaps it would be like a fragile lantern lit from within, neither solid nor translucent, with angles of light taking shape through sudden rips of fabric. Or perhaps it would be a metallic cube hovering over the ground like an imbalanced weight, yet with a surface as seemingly delicate as crumpled paper. Or perhaps it would be a cold glass entrance with ice rock chandeliers, where... Full Review
November 28, 2005
Susan Donahue Kuretsky
Poughkeepsie, NY: Francis Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, 2005. 352 pp.; 85 color ills.; 120 b/w ills. Paper $60.00 (0964426374)
Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., April 8–June 19, 2005; John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Fla., August 20–October 30, 2005; Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Ky., January 10–March 26, 2006
One year before Vassar College first offered courses in 1865, the institution already had an art gallery and a collection. Purchases, beginning with that of the Reverend Elias Magoon’s American and English landscape paintings, and continuing into the present with acquisitions in various media from diverse cultures, have made the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center (which occupies an elegant building by Cesar Pelli) into an important museum possessing 12,500 objects, and also—fulfilling the... Full Review
November 18, 2005
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Peter C. Sutton, Marjorie Wieseman, and Nico Van Hout
Exh. cat. Greenwich, Conn.: Yale University Press in association with Bruce Museum of Arts and Sciences, 2004. 208 pp.; 60 color ills.; 40 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0300106262)
Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Conn., October 2–January 30, 2005; Berkeley Art Museum, March 2–May 22, 2005; Cincinnati Art Museum, June 11–September 11, 2005
It is a testimony to the esteem in which Peter Sutton and Marjorie Wieseman are held in the art world that they were able to find enough oil sketches by Peter Paul Rubens for an exhibition in the United States in 2004—the most competitive “Rubens” year in recent memory. Drawn by the Brush: Oil Sketches by Peter Paul Rubens is the first exhibition dedicated solely to Rubens’s oil sketches since the one Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann organized in Rotterdam in 1953–54. Although originally... Full Review
November 8, 2005
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