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

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Exhibition Schedule: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, March 16-May 28, 2000; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, June 25-September 17, 2000
Cities as art centers have not always had the attention they deserve, especially in art exhibitions, because of the daunting problems of scale as well as the problems of representation of both the architectural environment and the unmovable monuments. There have been some truly notable exceptions, with particular relevance to this ambitious effort on Rome: Philadelphia's own Second Empire Paris exhibition as well as Detroit's 18th-Century Naples (1981). Once more Philadelphia has taken on a... Full Review
April 1, 2000
Jane R. Becker and Gabriel P. Weisberg, eds.
Rutgers University Press in association with Dahesh Museum of Art, 1999. 170 pp.; 31 color ills.; 61 b/w ills. Paper $35.00 (0813527562)
The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, October 2, 1999-January 2, 2000; The Dahesh Museum, New York, January 18-May 13, 2000;
"Our studio now enjoys the same advantages as the studio of the men, that is to say, we draw from the nude every day from the same model in the same pose as they do; consequently we can now paint compositions of more importance than before." So wrote the Ukrainian painter Marie Bashkirtseff in November 1880. The studio to which she referred was one of the ateliers of the Académie Julian, located in the center of Paris, where she had been studying since 1877. That the women of the Académie... Full Review
March 27, 2000
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Elizabeth Hutton Turner
New Haven and Washington, D.C.: Yale University Press in association with The Phillips Collection, 1999. 160 pp.; 80 color ills.; 69 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00
Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., April 17–July 18, 1999; Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico, August 7–October 17, 1999; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas, November 7, 1999–January 30, 2000; Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, February 19–May 14, 2000.
This catalogue accompanies the exhibition of the same title, organized as "the first to focus in-depth on O'Keeffe's aesthetics through an examination of her paintings of objects" (vii). This formalist approach might seem a curiously retardataire method to employ nowadays, but those familiar with O'Keeffe scholarship will relish the focus on the artist's work rather than her self. The first museum to purchase work from Georgia O'Keeffe was the Phillips Collection, in 1926. At the... Full Review
February 11, 2000
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Petra ten-Doesschate Chu, Jürg Zutter, Patricia Mainardi, and Michael Clarke
Exh. cat. Paris: Editions Flammarion, 1998. 167 pp.; many color ills.; few b/w ills. (2080107879)
Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, France, November 21, 1998–March 7, 1999; Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, Sweden, March 25–May 30 1999
The most substantial exhibition devoted to Gustave Courbet's paintings since the Brooklyn Museum of Art's Courbet Reconsidered a decade ago was presented at the Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts in Lausanne last winter from November through March. It then traveled to the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, where it closed on May 30. Titled Courbet: Artiste et Promoteur de Son Oeuvre, it was organized by Lausanne's director, Jürg Zutter, in collaboration with the noted Courbet scholar Petra... Full Review
December 27, 1999
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William H. Truettner and Roger Stein, eds.
Exh. cat. Yale University Press in association with National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1999. 272 pp.; 100 color ills.; 120 b/w ills. $45.00 (0300079389)
National Museum of American Art, April 2–August 22, 1999
Shortly before the Federal Security Administration photographer Jack Delano set out for New England in the early 1940s, the program director, Roy Stryker, provided him with a shooting script. Stryker encouraged Delano to "pour maple syrup" on his subjects and "mix [them] well with white clouds." If this script corrupted Delano's "photographic soul," Stryker did not give "a damn . . . with Hitler at our doorstep" (quoted, 137). One of Delano's photographs, Picknickers along Highway 12A... Full Review
August 2, 1999
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Steven Kossak, Jane Singer, and Robert Bruce-Gardner
Exh. cat. Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Harry N. Abrams, 1997. 224 pp.; 134 color ills.; 15 b/w ills. Cloth $70.00 (0810965275)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, October 1998; Rietberg Museum, Zurich, February 1999
Identifying the sources of Tibetan Buddhist painting has been the object of much scholarship in recent years, a pursuit that has often been frustrated by the scarcity of materials. While almost nothing except a few Dunhuang paintings in Tibetan style remains from the period of the First Conversion in the eighth century, about 500 works have survived from the years between the eleventh-twelfth century chidar, or Second Conversion under the guidance of the Indian sage Atisha, and... Full Review
June 24, 1999
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Simon Olding, Giles Waterfield, and Mark Bills
Bournemouth, UK: Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum in association with Lund Humphries, 1999. 96 pp.; 52 color ills.; 36 b/w ills. Paper $29.95 (0853317488)
Dahesh Museum, New York, January 19–April 17, 1999; Frick Art and Historical Center, Pittsburgh, Pa., May 6–July 4, 1999; City Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland, August–September, 1999
The Dahesh Museum once again offered a valuable exhibition that expanded the offerings of art on view in New York. Dedicated to the display of "academic" art, its exhibitions have focused on the discarded artists of the modern period—Bouguereau, Rosa Bonheur, Alexandre Cabanel among others. This exhibition was no exception. While English art is on permanent display in New York at the Frick Collection and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it tends toward the well-trod areas of eighteenth-century... Full Review
June 14, 1999
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Richard Kendall
Exh. cat. Harry N. Abrams, 1997. 160 pp.; 85 color ills.; 36 b/w ills. Cloth $35.00 (0810963663)
National Gallery of Art, October 4, 1998–January 3, 1999; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, January 17–May 16, 1999
Van Gogh's Van Goghs: Masterpieces from the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, currently mounted at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's new West Wing (the onetime May Company Building on Wilshire) is a chronological overview of the artist's career as a painter, comprising seventy works from 1882 to 1890. Imposing chestnuts (The Potato Eaters, Vincent's Bedroom) and masterful achievements (The Harvest (Blue Cart), Blossoming Almond Branch) co-mingle with pictures of modest... Full Review
May 3, 1999
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Michael R. Cunningham
Exh. cat. Cleveland: Hudson Hills Press in association with The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1998. 286 pp.; 175 color ills.; 83 b/w ills. $50.00
The Cleveland Museum of Art held a monumental exhibition of Buddhist art from August 9 through September 27, 1998. Mimi Hall Yiengpruksawan writes in her catalogue essay that "the Cleveland Museum of Art, in bringing the art of the Nara National Museum before an American audience . . . in all their [its] richness and diversity, is in itself an act of lasting merit that helps to preserve one of the great traditions of Asian art" (p. 33). In effect, an... Full Review
April 30, 1999
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Paul Tucker
Exh. cat. Yale University Press, 1997. 310 pp.; 130 color ills.; 25 b/w ills. $50.00 (0300077491)
Exhibition Schedule: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, September 23, 1998–January 3, 1999; Royal Academy of Arts in London, opened January 21, 1999.
This morning I drank my green tea from my lavender Monet-signature mug. This same autographic logo is reproduced as the first word of the title of Monet in the 20th Century, the catalogue of a major exhibition seen in the fall at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and appearing this spring at the Royal Academy of Arts, London. I wasn't able to join the international throng of visitors who saw the show in Boston and London, but I am nonetheless grateful to the guest curator, Paul Hayes... Full Review
April 21, 1999
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