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

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Exhibition schedule: Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, June 7–September 16, 2007
The Smart Museum bears a long tradition of exhibiting the art of early twentieth-century Germany, a period of remarkable cultural, political, and social transformation. Exhibitions such as The German Print Portfolio, 1890–1930: Serials from a Private Sphere (1993) and Confronting Identities in German Art: Myths, Reactions, Reflections (2003) have explored different manifestations of this change across several themes, from the portfolio as a medium for visualizing personal experience to collective and individual notions of national identity from the nineteenth century through National Socialism. Living Modern: German and Austrian Art and Design, 1890–1933, curated by Richard A. Born, senior curator… Full Review
September 25, 2007
Lisa Gabrielle Mark, ed.
Exh. cat. Los Angeles and Cambridge, MA: Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in association with MIT Press, 2006. 512 pp.; 475 color ills. Cloth $59.95 (9780914357995)
Exhibition schedule: Museum of Contemporary Art, Geffen Contemporary, Los Angeles, March 4–July 16, 2007; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC, September 21–December 16, 2007; P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York, February–June 2008; and Vancouver Art Gallery, British Columbia, October 4, 2008–January 18, 2009
WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution is an international survey of artworks featuring radical subject matter, experimental processes, and aesthetic activism from the women’s movement. This exhibition is one of the first major retrospectives of women’s artwork from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. It also includes performance documents, interdisciplinary projects, and journals that reflect the many different political responses that gender discrimination provoked in the seventies. Since that decade, we have come to call this social revolution “feminism.” And like the social movement itself, this extensive collection of “early feminist art” reflects the complex set of issues and… Full Review
September 25, 2007
Daniele Benati and Eugenio Riccòmini
Exh. cat. Mondadori Electa, 2006. 500 pp.; 148 color ills.; 122 b/w ills. Paper Euros40.00 (883704349X)
Exhibition schedule: Museo Civico Archeologico, Bologna, September 21, 2006–January 7, 2007; Chiostro del Bramante, Rome, January 26–June 5, 2007
Annibale Carracci spent most of the twentieth century in relative obscurity, his reputation overshadowed by that of other artists from his era. Though he was acknowledged by Caravaggio as a fellow “true painter” (Bellori) and served as inspiration to an awestruck adolescent Bernini (Baldinucci), Annibale’s fame has steadily dwindled since the nineteenth century, when illustrious visitors on the Grand Tour waxed rhapsodic over his work and made pilgrimages to Bologna and Parma to admire his altarpieces. Despite Dennis Mahon’s Herculean efforts to bring Annibale and his academy back into the spotlight and Charles Dempsey’s explorations of the technical and… Full Review
September 19, 2007
Miguel Falomir, ed.
Madrid: Museo Nacional del Prado, 2007. 465 pp.; 206 color ills. Paper $90.00 (1903470463)
Exhibition schedule: January 30–May 27, 2007
The Prado’s exhibition on Tintoretto, mounted by curator Miguel Falomir, meets the standard that a show is justified by its educational value to both the specialist and the public. Occupying the central wing of the primo piano of the Prado, the exhibit is mounted spaciously and offers judicious juxtapositions of paintings, drawings, and technical data. While presenting itself as the first monographic exhibition for the artist since 1937, the show also disclaims any pretension to be complete. (During the Tintoretto anniversary year of 1994, the Accademia in Venice provided an exhibition of Tintoretto’s portraiture, at which time an itinerary of… Full Review
September 6, 2007
Lin Po-t’ing, ed.
Exh. cat. Taipei: National Palace Museum, 2007. 495 pp.; 196 color ills. Cloth (1009503912)
Exhibition schedule: National Palace Museum, Taipei, December 25, 2006–March 25, 2007
In Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor, there is a scene in the Forbidden City after the 1911 Republican Revolution in which the already abdicated last emperor P’u-i (John Lone) warned his two chief eunuchs with these words: “I’ve recently learned that many pieces from the imperial collections were on sale in the antique stores of Peking!” Palace eunuchs were notorious thieves of imperial treasures. The Forbidden City, first built from 1406 to 1420, was not only the world’s largest palace complex for the twenty-four successive emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties, but also the home to the magnificent… Full Review
August 30, 2007
Ann Boulton, Jay Fisher, Dorothy Kosinski, Steve Nash, and Oliver Shell
Exh. cat. Baltimore, Dallas, and New Haven: Baltimore Museum of Art, Dallas Museum of Art, and Nasher Sculpture Center in association with Yale University Press, 2007. 312 pp.; 261 color ills.; 35 b/w ills. $60.00 (9780300115413)
Exhibition schedule: Dallas Museum of Art and Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, TX, January 21–April 29, 2007; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, June 9–September 16, 2007; Baltimore Museum of Art, October 28, 2007–February 3, 2008
“I myself have done sculpture as the complement of my studies. I did sculpture when I was tired of painting. For a change of medium. But I sculpted as a painter. I did not sculpt like a sculptor. Sculpture does not say what painting says. Painting does not say what music says. They are parallel ways, but you can’t confuse them.” —Henri Matisse Matisse’s statement, printed high on the wall in the Dallas Museum of Art foyer, sums up the motivation for Matisse: Painter as Sculptor, an ambitious exhibition jointly organized by the Dallas Museum of Art,… Full Review
August 29, 2007
Fereshteh Daftari, ed.
Exh. cat. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2006. 112 pp.; 98 color ills. Cloth $65.00 (0870700855)
Exhibition schedule: Museum of Modern Art, New York, February 26–May 22, 2006
Venetia Porter, ed.
Exh. cat. London: British Museum Press, 2006. 144 pp.; 204 color ills. Cloth (0714111635)
Exhibition schedule: British Museum, London, May 18–September 2, 2006
Contemporary art from the Middle East has only begun to emerge from obscurity in the past decade. Its struggle for recognition by the mainstream art world stems from an indefinable hesitation, lack of understanding, and the absence of established standards by which to evaluate it. A handful of major museums have started to collect this art seriously, while others continue to resist such acquisitions, often dismissing them as derivative and of questionable quality. Two recent exhibitions that focused on contemporary art from the Middle East and helped to put it on the map were Without Boundary: Seventeen Ways of Looking… Full Review
August 16, 2007
Robert S. Nelson and Kristen M. Collins
Exh. cat. Los Angeles: Getty Trust Publications, 2006. 320 pp.; 236 color ills.; 36 b/w ills. Cloth $75.00 (0892368551)
Exhibition schedule: J. Paul Getty Museum, November 14, 2006–March 4, 2007
The greatest gift of the exhibition documented in this catalogue is exemplified by catalogue entry 44 (by Glenn Peers), a small panel of just two figures. The desert father Makarios stands to one side, straight and intensely decorous in the “angelic robe” of the monk, his right hand resting on his long beard, his left lightly raised. Beside him looms a seraph, its upswept wings echoing Makarios’s hood, its cherubic face intent. Gently, it takes the monk’s left wrist in its small, red hand. Monastic inspiration is distilled here in an image of penetrating simplicity. Previously published only once, the… Full Review
August 2, 2007
Thomas Loughman, ed.
Exh. cat. Milan: Skira, 2006. 176 pp.; 52 color ills.; 20 b/w ills. Cloth $30.00 (8876249745)
Exhibition schedule: Phoenix Art Museum, December 10, 2006–March 4, 2007
Penelope Hunter-Stiebel, ed.
Exh. cat. Portland, OR: Portland Art Museum in association with Rijksmuseum, 2006. 144 pp.; 104 color ills.; 9 b/w ills. Cloth $29.95 (1883124239)
Exhibition schedule: Dayton Art Institute, September 30, 2006–January 7, 2007; Phoenix Art Museum, January 27–May 6, 2007; Portland Art Museum, May 26–September 16, 2007
This spring Phoenix, Arizona has become a center for Baroque art. Under the able leadership of James K. Ballinger, Director, and Thomas J. Loughman, Curator of European Art, the Phoenix Art Museum is hosting two major exhibitions of European seventeenth-century art, and for one of these, Phoenix is its sole venue. In the last decade, the museum has organized other major Baroque exhibitions, most notably in 1999 with Copper as Canvas: Two Centuries of Masterpiece Painting on Copper, 1525–1775; but scheduling two concurrent shows on seventeenth-century art—one focusing on the Mediterranean city of Naples, the other on the Dutch… Full Review
June 12, 2007
Elizabeth Hartley, Jane Hawkes, and Martin Henig, eds.
Exh. cat. Aldershot, UK: Lund Humphries in association with York Museums Trust, 2006. 280 pp.; 250 color ills.; 20 b/w ills. Cloth $100.00 (0853319286)
Exhibition schedule: Yorkshire Museum, York, March 31–October 29, 2006
Constantine is the man of the hour. The 1700th anniversary of his ascent into the ruling circle of the Roman Empire, just as the administration of shared authority instituted by Diocletian was about to break apart in civil war, is being celebrated across Europe. Rimini led off in 2005 with an important show and sumptuous catalogue (Angela Donati and Giovanni Gentili, eds., Costantino il Grande: La civiltà antica al bivio tra Occidente e Oriente, Milano: Cinisello Balsamo, 2005). The volume under review here, the catalogue of York’s effort in the fall of 2006, is the second entry in the… Full Review
June 12, 2007