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

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David McCabe and David Dalton
London: Phaidon, 2003. 240 pp.; 400 b/w ills. Cloth (9780714843223)
Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery, Nashville, Tenn., September 2–October 14, 2004
In early 1964, shortly after acquiring the studio space at 231 East Forty-Seventh Street in New York that would become known as the Factory, Pop artist Andy Warhol commissioned British fashion photographer David McCabe to document his life for one year. Although the project resulted in over 2,500 photographs, none of the images were used by Warhol, nor were any published until last year’s release of McCabe’s book, A Year in the Life of Andy Warhol (London: Phaidon Press, 2003). The... Full Review
October 7, 2004
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Lynne Warren, ed.
Exh. cat. Champaign: Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago in association with University of Illinois Press, 2004. 96 pp.; many color ills. Paper $29.95 (0933856830)
That most Chicagoans who have encountered Dan Peterman’s work have done so without knowing it seems as fitting a tribute to the artist’s ambitions as does the current exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA). Indeed, as much as I enjoyed seeing Plastic Economies, I have equally enjoyed using Peterman’s installation Chicago Ground Cover (1997)— without realizing it was an installation—while learning to samba, salsa, shimmy, and shake atop the smooth surface... Full Review
September 14, 2004
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Robert L. Herbert
Exh. cat. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004. 288 pp.; 307 color ills.; 64 b/w ills. Paper $34.95 (0520242114)
Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago, June 19–September 19, 2004
Shortly before I visited the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago to see the exhibition Seurat and the Making of “La Grande Jatte”, an art historian friend in Berlin wrote me, asking if the show was traveling to Europe. The answer is no, and visitors to the exhibition are told the reason why: in 1958, a fire broke out at New York’s Museum of Modern Art while A Sunday on La Grande Jatte was on display there. Though Georges Seurat’s canvas was unharmed, the Art Institute decided... Full Review
September 10, 2004
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Andrea Bayer, ed.
Exh. cat. Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2004. 272 pp.; 136 color ills.; 83 b/w ills. Cloth $60.00 (0300102755)
Museo Civico “Ala Ponzone,” Cremona, February 14–May 2, 2004; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, May 27–August 15, 2004
Tracing artistic origins and sources is always tricky business, never more so than when one is seeking to identify and explain a concept as broad and malleable as naturalism. First there is the problem of the term itself. Postmodern theory has rightly claimed that there is no such thing as a naïve, unmediated, “natural” representation of the world around us. Not only are there different kinds of naturalism and different purposes it can serve, but one culture’s naturalism may also strike... Full Review
August 12, 2004
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Ann Goldstein and Lisa Mark, eds.
Exh. cat. Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in association with MIT Press, 2003. 452 pp.; 200 color ills.; 100 b/w ills. Cloth $50.00 (0262072513)
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, March 14–August 2, 2004
Two discourses of Minimalism have come to determine its academic reception today, both of which reject theories by the twentieth century’s most prominent critic, Clement Greenberg. One line of thought stresses the objecthood of an artwork against Greenberg’s insistence that modernist painting remain true to the inherent, unique qualities of the medium. The other emphasizes the phenomenological experience one has of sculpture in real time and space against Greenberg’s call for a disembodied,... Full Review
July 15, 2004
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The Norton Simon Museum’s exhibition of thirty black-chalk drawings by Jean-Honoré Fragonard offered the viewer an unusual challenge. Consisting of drawings after old-master paintings executed by Fragonard during a tour of Italy in 1760–61, the exhibition took as its subject the education of an artist. By positioning near each drawing a small photo reproduction of the original painting that Fragonard was copying, the viewer was inevitably drawn into a game of comparison as well as a quest to... Full Review
July 14, 2004
Alan Tapié
Paris: Somogy Éditions d’Art, 2003. 414 pp.; many color ills.; many b/w ills. Paper $58.00 (2850566470)
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Caen, Caen, France, July 11–October 13, 2003
Any outsider to the field surveying the recent spate of big thesis exhibitions could not fail to notice the discrepant narratives of the Baroque currently in circulation. The Genius of the Rome, 1592–1623 (held at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 2001) supported a story of individual styles and individual patrons’ taste, sometimes a chaotic situation, but one governed by individual choices that were only secondarily infringed upon by institutional needs or demands. By contrast,... Full Review
March 11, 2004
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Christine Y. Kim, Vijay Prashad, and Latasha N. Nevada Diggs
Exh. cat. Studio Museum in Harlem, 2003. 120 pp.; many color ills. $25.00 (0942949269)
The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, October 15, 2003–January 4, 2004. New York: Studio Museum in Harlem, 2003. 120 pp.; many color ills. $25.00 (paper) (0942949269)
While a handful of exhibitions have looked at the relationship between African Americans, Asians, and Asian Americans in visual art, such as Ancestors, a joint effort by Kenkeleba House and the Asian American Arts Centre in 1995, Black Belt is the largest exploration to date. As the title implies, it is structured around the premise of a cross-cultural fascination with Asian martial arts epitomized by the messianic icon Bruce Lee. Yet despite the backing of a thriving... Full Review
December 29, 2003
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Alessandro Bagnoli
Milan: Silvana Editoriale, 2003. 539 pp.; 300 ills. €48.00 (8882154831)
On June 9, 1311, Duccio di Buoninsegna’s Maestà was placed on the high altar of Siena cathedral. A mid-fourteenth-century Sienese chronicle describes its first presentation to the city: bq. On the day on which it was carried to the Duomo, the shops were locked up and the Bishop ordered a great and devout company of priests and brothers with a solemn procession, accompanied by the Signori of the Nine and all the officials of the Commune, and all the populace and all the most worthy... Full Review
December 11, 2003
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Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser, ed.
Hartford, CT: Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in association with Yale University Press, 2002. 352 pp.; 189 color ills.; 67 b/w ills. Cloth $55.00 (0300097670)
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT, January 17–April 20, 2003; Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, June 7–September 7, 2003; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO, October 11, 2003–January 4, 2004 . Marsden Hartley. New Haven: Yale University Press, in association with Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 2002. 352 pp. 189 color ills.; 67 b/w. $55.00 (cloth) (0300097670)
The large retrospective devoted to the work of Marsden Hartley, organized by Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser for the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, is a delight, a sadness, and a puzzle in nearly equal measure. The delight is easy to relate. It was thrilling to walk into the Hartford exhibition’s first gallery and face a wall of Hartley’s brightly colored, nonrepresentational paintings made in Paris and Berlin in 1912 and 1913 (cat. nos. 8–11). Their recognizable motifs—numbers, seated... Full Review
September 4, 2003
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